The S-Word: A Crash Course in Stuttering

Change your story.


Stuttering is not just about speech.

Standing in line waiting to order food. Debating if you want to go to that birthday party, because you’ll have to introduce yourself. Knowing you’d excel at the job promotion, but questioning yourself because it requires public presentations. Having a lot to say, but not saying it, because of how you might look if the words refuse to come out.

Stuttering is a whole-life experience, and working on stuttering requires a whole-life approach. To that end, speech IRL has developed the S-Word: A Crash Course In Stuttering. The S-Word is an immersive two-week experience designed to tackle the physical, mental, emotional, and practical life issues that accompany stuttering.

The goal of this intensive program is to equip you with the knowledge, skills, and fortitude to address your stuttering in a way that makes sense for you. You’ll learn about the physical aspects of speech production, ranging from classic stuttering techniques to advanced work with voice and singing specialists. You’ll develop cognitive skills to manage the mindchatter associated with stuttering, through daily mindfulness instruction and use of psychology frameworks like CBT and ACT. You’ll explore the emotional experience of stuttering through social exercises targeting fear, shame, anxiety, by moving into courage, pride, and confidence. And, most crucially, you'll spend a heartfelt two weeks with other people who stutter  working through the same challenges you are. You'll be learning and exploring for yourself, but you also have the opportunity to help fellow stutterers achieve satisfying communication.

Community, peer-based support is an essential component of this program. Activities, exercises, and instruction are vital, but the real catalyst of this type of therapy is exploring these challenging topics alongside other people. Each participant is required to set their own goals and write their own path for stuttering success, and no two people will be exactly the same. By actively encouraging one another on your individual paths, you not only experience change for yourself-- you will help others create change for themselves.

Program At-A-Glance

Dates: August 6th-18th, 2018

Location: speech IRL, 73 W Monroe, Chicago, IL 60603

Cost: $3500

Participants: adults (18+) who stutter

Questions about dates, travel, or other information? Check out our FAQ.

Speech therapy student interested in an internship? Click here to apply.

What does this program look like?

Our program recognizes that stuttering is a complex, multifactorial disorder. Each day will focus on a different aspect of stuttering treatment, building on the work of the previous day. We start with building strong foundational skills such as education of the individual physical components of stuttering and move into voice and technique work in order to build strong communication skills. The second week focuses on social-emotional change through desensitization activities and outings to practice    Lessons will be reinforced through individualized nightly homework assignments.

The program includes 50 hours of therapy, individualized homework assignments, an outdoor adventure experience, family education day with a catered luncheon, customized maintenance plan, and 1 follow up individual session which can be completed over Skype.

A typical day begins with a recap from the previous night’s homework. Each day will have a different focus and will include teaching, discussion, and practice in and out of the therapy room. The day will end with creating homework assignments for that night.

Who is this program for?

This therapy program is for adults who stutter ages 18 and up. An official diagnosis of stuttering not required. A free consultation will be scheduled beforehand to determine if this is the right program for you. Due to the program dynamic, this intensive is only appropriate for adults.

How does this program compare to individual therapy?

The combination of group therapy and intensive practice makes intensive therapy programs one of the most effective types of stuttering therapy. According to recent research (Irani et al., 2012), participants in intensive therapy programs make long-lasting positive changes in both measures of speech disfluency and attitudes surrounding stuttering. Similar stuttering intensive programs result in significant long-term improvements in fluency, and reduction of struggle and avoidance (Blomgren et al., 2005; Pollard, 2012). Intensive programs heavily incorporate aspects of support and community. Involvement in support groups result in more positive feelings about identifying as a person who stutters and lesson the life impact associated with stuttering (Murgallis et al., 2015).

What will happen after the 2 weeks? Will my stuttering be gone?

There is currently no cure for stuttering. This program will not cure your stuttering. However, clients typically report an increase in speech fluency and a healthier attitude toward their stuttering. All clients are sent home with a personalized maintenance plan in order to maintain their progress. Regular individual therapy “check-ins” are encouraged.

What type of follow up support is available?

On the last day of the program clients, with their clinicians, will create individualized maintenance plans. Graduates of the intensive program are encouraged to pursue individual speech therapy sessions to solidify newly learned skills. speech IRL also offers several stuttering therapy groups. Clients are also encouraged to get involved in self-help organizations such as the National Stuttering Association.