Hope and Healing in Telling & Hearing Stories
Stories empower those who tell their stories as well as those who hear them. As with so many of life’s conditions, when people relate their individual journeys of stuttering, healing nearly always follows. And others who stutter who hear the stories are often inspired to then tell their own. The first part of this webinar will discuss ways in which people can tell and preserve their stories: from live presentations or interviews, face-to-face conversations, and written narratives, both public and private. These stories can be private or used clinically. For example, one’s stuttering story can be used in speech therapy to augment typical diagnostic evaluations and to provide individualistic roadmaps to important targets of desensitization and symptom change in therapy.
The second part will focus on healing that occurs from either group therapy or support groups. When folks who stutter, or even their allies who don’t stutter, share with one another their experiences with stuttering or other life difficulties, the associated burdens are suddenly easier to carry. Through group sharing, participants discover ways to change the themes of their personal narratives from defeat and suffering to confidence and empowerment.
Target Audience: Speech-Language Pathologists*, Parents of Children who Stutter, Adults who Stutter
Bio: Ken St. Louis, Ph.D., is a mostly recovered stutterer who has spent his 45-year career as a speech-language pathologist working to understand and alleviate the problem of stuttering. He has published and presented locally, nationally, and internationally on stuttering and cluttering over his career. Now, as a professor emeritus at West Virginia University, though retired, he remains active in research on understanding and alleviating negative public attitudes toward stuttering. Among his numerous awards, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Fluency Association.
Mid-career, he re-discovered something that he experienced as a college student and as a stuttering client, that is, sharing one’s own story of stuttering in a supportive environment provides healing in ways that even the best therapy strategies rarely achieve. Individual and unique stories of stuttering, became the raw material for a 2001 book entitled Living with Stuttering: Stories, Basics, Resources, and Hope and its recent 2021 second edition..
Ken spent two and half decades leading a support group for stuttering. He also published in 2021 a guide for leading support groups—or group therapy, In the Company of Friends: Group Support for People Who Stutter. The book features over 100 theme-driven plans for group sessions.