People who stutter often say that they are able to speak fluently in the clinic, but find that their fluency disappears when they leave. This is a serious problem and I believe the solution lies in rethinking the issue of “transfer.”
One problem in “transfer” is, of course, that people want to transfer fluency. Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I don’t believe that fluency comes and goes by itself. It is how the person’s brain functions that results in either stuttering or fluent speech. So if you are trying to be fluent and disregarding process, the results will be very disappointing.
Another problem is that people jump too quickly from being able to process speech in a way that results in fluent speech to wanting to use this way of speaking all the time. When I was a young and inexperienced clinician, I used to be happy when clients would say, “This is a wonderful way of speaking, I’m going to speak this way from now on”. Today, I realize that this is unrealistic. It takes time for the brain to accept a new way of functioning. This acceptance happens only after a period repetitive focused intention that enables the network of neurons in the brain that is now firing together to become wired together. When this happens the way of speaking becomes part of the self.
My advice to clients who have learned to process speech normally during our sessions is not to expect that because you know what to do it will happen automatically. Also, I do not want them to go and try to use this process when they are feeling anxiety and trepidation. Instead of going off into life and “trying” to speak this way, I encourage them to use the process alone and in non-threatening situations again and again and again. I want them to use this process of speaking for their own fun and enjoyment. I want them to see the relationship between process and results and I want them to get the sense of how peasant and easy it is to speak this way. As a matter of fact, I tell them not to even think of using it in any situation until they can’t wait to start using it, until it feels like the preferred thing to do. When that happens they will not be trying to do something they fear they cannot do. They will be confidently doing something they love to do. Under this circumstance, transfer will not be a threat it will be a pleasure.