The best way to treat stuttering for adults and teenagers is to teach people how to control the stuttering. This is commonly called speech restructuring. This involves learning to speak in a slightly different way so that stuttering can be controlled during everyday life. The technique requires some effort but some people who stutter find that it can make a big difference to their lives. It has been used in intensive group programs for chronic stuttering for decades. These programs typically train people to use the technique in a very slow and exaggerated manner. People then increase their speech rate and learn to sound more natural while still controlling the stuttering. The technique can control stuttering in the clinic, and then people attempt to use the technique to control stuttering during their everyday talking.
Researchers at the Australian Stuttering Research Centre and colleagues around Australia have developed a speech restructuring technique called the Camperdown Program. A randomised controlled trial showed that this treatment can work by telepractice. In other words, the client and therapist can be in different locations, even in different countries, while receiving therapy. A qualified speech pathologist can do Camperdown treatment using a webcam over the internet (also called telepractice or telehealth). Because teenagers use the Internet so much, webcam treatment for them works particularly well.
Dealing with anxiety
Adults and teenagers who stutter commonly experience anxiety about speaking. Anxiety of this type can impact on job performance and participation, and may also interfere with social activities. Also, having speech anxiety may make it difficult in therapy to control stuttering. For all of these reasons, we recommend treatment for the anxiety.
The therapy of choice for social anxiety is cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT, which is a scientifically established psychological approach. CBT is based upon the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The therapy focuses on thoughts and behaviours that are causing distress or interfering with life. Therapy teaches elimination of avoidance behaviours, confrontation of fears, and changing negative or unhelpful thinking patterns.
The Australian Stuttering Research Centre team has developed a standalone internet treatment specifically to treat the social anxiety of those who stutter. This website provides treatment for social anxiety without the need for a clinical psychologist or a speech pathologist. We are in the process of enabling the web-based anxiety program to be available free of charge to the public.