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Therapy Source Career Center - June 2019

Stuttering Treatment and Counseling: Confronting hard conversations from a theoretical framework

Stuttering Treatment and Counseling: Confronting hard conversations from a theoretical framework
Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, Mary Weidner, MS, CCC-SLP
August 26, 2015

This text-based course is a transcript of the webinar, Stuttering Treatment and Counseling: Confronting hard conversations from a theoretical framework, presented by Craig E. Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F and Mary Weidner, MS, CCC-SLP.

>> Craig Coleman:  So far in this stuttering series, we have discussed the background of stuttering, assessment of stuttering and Scott Yaruss provided a great review of the ICF model and framework as it relates to stuttering treatment.  Brooke Leiman also did a great job talking about difficult discussions with families and how to incorporate families into the therapy process.  In this course, Mary Weidner will cover counseling and I will share some specific treatment activities that can be used when working with children who stutter. This discussion should give you an idea of how to accomplish some of the goals that were laid out in yesterday’s presentation, Stuttering Treatment: Treating the whole disorder.  We will also address bullying, teasing, and negative reactions, and what impact they may have on children who stutter and how we can prepare children who stutter to handle those situations when they arise. 

Learning Objectives

I want to start by covering the learning objectives.  Objectives include being able to describe the basic principles that are integral to effective counseling, being able to describe the theoretical framework of various counseling models and being able to describe specific counseling techniques and activities that can be applied in stuttering treatment. 

Counseling in stuttering is a very important and sometimes controversial issue.  There are still people who have the school of thought that SLPs should not be doing counseling with our clients.  However, SLPs should be doing counseling when it relates to communication disorders, and certainly for stuttering, SLPs should be providing counseling because we have the background, the knowledge, and the expertise to be able to do that effectively. 

Counseling is not easy to do, and Mary will talk a lot about that today.  But, first, I want to address how to work on bullying, teasing and negative reactions; which has a lot to do with counseling as well. 

Teasing and Bullying in Stuttering

When looking at teasing and bullying in stuttering, there are different types of bullying to consider.  In order for something to be considered “bullying” a few components need to be present. Teasing is very different than bullying, and I hope to lay out those differences today. Bullying has become a bit of a catch word in our society and we have to talk about in in a way that is meaningful, in terms of identifying what is needed for bullying to exist.


In order to have bullying there needs to be an intent to do harm.  Bullying has to be malicious.  There has to be an intent to do harm to the person being bullied. That does not mean that there is intent to do physical harm, but there has to be intent to have some kind of negative ramification on the person.  That also suggests that a person’s actions might have inadvertent consequences, it might be a negative thing, and it might force negative reactions but it may not necessarily be considered bullying because the intent to harm is not there.


The other thing that must occur for bullying is repetition.  It has to be behavior that is repeated over a period of time.  Essentially, that eliminates one shot circumstances.  For example, if a child has an experience with being teased for stuttering - maybe a waiter laughs at them or a store clerk laughs at them – that is a negative experience for the child; it is a negative response to the child’s stuttering and we want to help the child work through those situations.  However, that situation does not rise to the level of bullying because the repetition is not there. 

Imbalance of Power

There also needs to be an imbalance of power for bullying to be present.  This is often seen on the surface with bullying with big children versus smaller children, for example.  There is an imbalance of physical power there.  Bullying exists when an imbalance of power is present in any form, not just the physical form.  For example, to go outside of the scope of stuttering, bullying could exist in the workplace when there is an imbalance of power between people who are higher up or perceived to have more power, more say, and more authority than people who are lower on the food chain in the workplace. 

Bullying does not just exist among children.  It is very common in schools, workplace settings, sports teams, dance teams, etc.  Bullying can exist anywhere.  It can exist for both children and adults.  That imbalance of power is key because if we think about something like stuttering, when a child is having difficulty communicating and other people perceive that as a weakness for the child, it creates an immediate imbalance of power.  Not only on the perception of the bully, but the perception of the bystanders around.  When a person is perceived as being weaker, whether that is physically, cognitively or communicatively, other people around them can perceive those differences as weaknesses.  That is why education is so important when working with a child who stutters, to be able to educate other people about what is stuttering is.  It helps the person who stutters take away the imbalance of power.  It helps them show other people that their stuttering is not a weakness, or it does not have to be a weakness.

craig coleman

Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F

Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, is an assistant professor at Marshall University and a Board-Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. Coleman is currently serving as coordinator of ASHA SIG 4 (Fluency) and as a member of the ASHA ad-hoc committee to revise the scope of practice in speech-language pathology. Craig is an adjunct instructor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Stuttering U. summer program for children who stutter, their families, and SLPs.

mary weidner

Mary Weidner, MS, CCC-SLP

Mary Weidner is a speech-language pathologist and doctoral student at West Virginia University where she studies stuttering and counseling. Her research focuses on measuring and improving attitudes of young children toward peers who stutter. Mary is co-founder of MC Speech Books where she has co-authored several books for children who stutter. She co-directs Stuttering U., a camp for children who stutter, their families, and professionals, and also co-leads support groups for adults and children who stutter. Before returning for doctoral studies, Mary worked clinically at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Related Courses

The Ripple Effect of Stuttering: A Community-Based Approach
Presented by Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, ASHA Fellow, Mary Weidner, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #9217Level: Intermediate2 Hours
This is Part 2 of a four-part series. The stuttering experience has a ripple effect that extends far beyond the child who stutters. Parents, teachers, peers, and others must possess both knowledge and skills to best support children who stutter. This course will highlight new clinical tools and resources to provide a community-based treatment approach for stuttering. (Part 1 - Course 9278, Part 3 - Course 9301, Part 4 - Course 9304)

Best Practices for Stuttering Assessment and Treatment Including the Role of Support Groups
Presented by Katie Gore, MA, CCC-SLP, Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, ASHA Fellow
Course: #9225Level: Intermediate2 Hours
This course is Part 4 in a four-part series. It will provide an overview of stuttering peer support communities and the clinical importance of incorporating community experience into therapy. Current research and practical application questions will address goal writing, SLP roles and responsibilities, and common challenges connecting therapy to the community. Case studies will be shared to highlight assessment and treatment across various age ranges. (Part 1 - Course 9278, Part 2 - Course 9286, Part 3 - Course 9301)

Overview and Assessment of Stuttering: What Every SLP Should Know
Presented by Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, ASHA Fellow
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This is Part 1 of a four-part series. This course will cover current research and trends in stuttering. Specifically, information related to risk factors and epidemiology, as well as the foundational knowledge needed to assess and treat stuttering, will be addressed. Additionally, assessment of people who stutter will be described through the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model, which focuses on all aspects of stuttering, beyond the surface-level characteristics. (Part 2 - Course 9286, Part 3 - Course 9301, Part 4 - Course 9304)

Young Children's Negative Attitudes toward Peers with Communication Disorders: What SLPs Can Do to Help
Presented by Mary Weidner, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8764Level: Introductory1 Hour
At a young age, children with communication disorders are at high risk for social punishment from their communicatively typical peers. This course provides an overview of the emergence of bias in young children, explains the impact of negative attitudes on children with communication disorders, and offers recommendations on how to productively address negative peer attitudes.

Creating Allies and Developing Advocacy Skills in Stuttering Therapy
Presented by Brooke Leiman Edwards, MA, CCC-SLP, Hope Gerlach, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #92232 Hours
This is Part 3 of a four-part series. This course will focus on specific strategies for involving parents/caregivers in stuttering therapy, and promoting self-advocacy skills among clients who stutter. Through the use of case studies, the speakers will problem-solve obstacles commonly faced by speech-language pathologists when addressing these important aspects of therapy. (Part 1 - Course 9278, Part 2 - Course 9286, Part 4 - Course 9304)

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