The process of creating natural speech is, of course, a simple process that requires no thought or effort, as every fluent speaker knows. As a matter of fact, I tell my clients, “If it isn’t simple and comfortable, it can’t be right.” However, using this process both during the therapy sessions and in daily life is not so simple. Clients come to therapy with a whole host of false expectations, frustrations, the lack of belief that they can do anything to change the way they speak and a lack of trust that giving up control of speaking and using an automatic process is possible in general and for them specifically. Therapy, therefore, involves so much more than changing the neural network of speech production. It also involves helping the client to have realistic expectations.
One of the false expectations that is almost universal is the thought “I spoke fluently in therapy so now I want to see if it will work all the time.” This one expectation contains so much of the answer as to why what is done in the therapy session is not done outside the therapy room even when the goal of treatment is to speak naturally.
“I spoke fluently in therapy so now I want to see if it will work all the time.” contains these problems:
During therapy we need to help the client remain focused on process rather than looking for the false reward of succeeding to get a word out in any way possible. If the client “tries to use” the new process in their life too quickly, they might work for the false reward. Most clients do not come to therapy with a lot of patience. They want a quick fix. This is why I actually tell my clients that they are not supposed to use the process until it seems so natural and logical that they are excited, happy and confident about using it in life. The surest way to lose the client’s motivation and perspective is to tell them to use the process in their life before they show me that their focused awareness is in the right place and that they are mentally prepared to use the process.