Stammering (also known as stuttering) is a condition familiar to most people, especially those who have seen the film “The Kings Speech”. However not everyone who stammers has the same experience as George VI, and stammering therapy has moved on a bit too!

The causes of stammering are not yet fully understood, although there are plenty of theories. For each person who stammers, there are probably several contributing factors.

Stammering has been compared to an iceberg. There are some aspects which are above the surface, and apparent to other people, like repetition or prolongation of speech sounds or syllables and “blocking” of speech. Then there are other aspects below the surface, which a casual observer may be unaware of. These could include the deliberate avoidance of certain speech sounds, words or situations and general anxiety about speaking. Each stammer is different, some people have “above the surface” or “overt” stammers with very little anxiety. Others may have almost fluent speech, but beneath the surface huge amounts of anxiety which dictate all sorts of life choices, these are known as “covert” stammerers.

Modern stammering therapy seeks to address the overt speech behaviours with various exercises and speaking techniques, and the covert issues with a more psychological type approach. Solution Focused Therapy has been shown to be very useful for the latter.