CHAPTER 24

TO THE THERAPIST

In a sense, having a brief section devoted to information for speech therapists may strike these professionals as somewhat strange. After all, isn't the entire book precisely that? The answer, of course, is yes, but in this section my intent is to offer some cautionary advice.

The Air Flow Technique differs in important ways from speech therapy. As is apparent from the success of this technique, focusing on the speech problem itself has been one of the major mistakes in the treatment of stuttering. The struggle which so characterizes the disorder is not with speech but rather against a locking of the vocal cords which has occurred just prior to speech. Therefore to attempt to work on speech is a grave mistake, and any form of therapy that attempts to do so is of dubious value.

Traditional speech therapy techniques ("bounce," "pull-out," and "cancellation") have no value when viewed within the context of the orientation presented in this book. Our attention, and the attention of our patients, must be constantly focused upon what they do before they speak. If they set themselves up properly, that is, use the Passive Air Flow and intend a slowed first word, their speech will emerge fluently. This preoccupation with preparation and a total disregard for speech constitutes the major distinction between Air Flow therapy and traditional speech therapy.

The National Center for Stuttering has developed a training program for speech clinicians. At present, training for speech therapists is available in many cities across the United States. The training program consists of both observation and practicum. In the first phase, therapists observe a two-day intensive treatment workshop. The second phase follows the workshop and consists of a six-month clinical application of the therapeutic techniques demonstrated during the workshop. Therapists administer Air Flow Therapy to their own patients, recording on tape their initial presentation and periodic therapy sessions. These tapes are then mailed to the Center for evaluation. All tapes are returned with comments and suggestions.

At the end of the six-month monitoring phase, those therapists demonstrating a thorough understanding of the Air Flow Technique and the ability to transfer that understanding in the therapeutic setting are awarded Certification.

The Center has maintained a training program for speech clinicians for more than fourteen years. Typically, the Center trains about two hundred clinicians a year. Much work remains, however, since there are more than sixty thousand speech therapists in the United States. 


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