Have you thought to yourself, “If only I could control my speech, I would be able to speak fluently”? Maybe a well-meaning SLP told you to work hard to develop speech controls. Whether the idea came from you or was given to you, the idea that you can overcome stuttering by control is leading you to greater frustration and in some cases increased stuttered speech.
I know that I stand in disagreement with my colleagues who argue that stuttering happens because of lack of control. They say that head jerks, facial grimaces, repetitions and laryngeal blocks are signs of a lack of control, but this is an illusion. The fact is that speaking is an automatic system in the brain. Neurologist say this, psycholinguistic experts say this. The time has come for us to tell this to people who stutter.
“We do not let go of control; we let go of the belief that we have control. The rest is grace.” – David Richo
In Dynamic Stuttering Therapy, clients prove that giving up control results in fluent speech. Whenever they are speaking fluently with ease and comfort, they report that they hardly feel that they are doing something. They certainly are not thinking about how to talk. On the other hand, when they go with that urge to control how they are talking, they are once again struggling to speak.
Letting go of control is not easy, because our mind and ego want to control our environment and us. The mind fears results and wants to control what will happen. The idea of letting go of control is scary. In fact, it is so scary that the more we desire positive results, the more we tend to resist letting go. It is far easier to let go when we don’t care about the outcome. That is why it is easier for people who stutter to speak fluently when they are alone or speaking to animals or babies who do not judge them.
We cannot force ourselves to give up control, because that is also a form of control. However, we don’t have to force ourselves to give up control when we believe that control is unnecessary. We breath automatically because we know that’s how breathing works. We blink our eyes automatically, because we don’t think that it can be done any other way even though we could theoretically open and close our eyes on purpose. We also drive automatically and dance automatically (most of the time) because we know too much is required to carry out these activities by conscious thought. For 99% of the population speaking falls into the category of something we do without any thought or effort.
I know that giving up control over words and how to say them is not part of the psychological or belief system of people who stutter. However, it is possible to to change thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Giving up control is an essential part of the therapy process, because without giving up control, fluent speech will always be elusive.