All licensed speech pathologists are permitted to treat stuttering in the US. The problem is that most of them have little or no training in stuttering. A Fluency Specialist or Stuttering Specialist is certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. Therefore, qualified to conduct stuttering treatment.
ASHA changed the rules
This sad state of affairs came about suddenly. About ten years ago the American Speech Language Hearing Association changed the requirements for stuttering training in the graduate schools. They no longer required classes or supervised training in stuttering therapy. The graduate schools complained that they weren’t able to find enough stutterers for their clinics. Also, they could not hire enough professors to teach the stuttering classes. As a result, now, a student can graduate and obtain a license in Speech Pathology without any classes or training in stuttering.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the majority of speech pathologists in public schools feel uncomfortable assessing and treating children who stutter. When they are mandated to treat a child who stutters, they feel inadequately prepared. It is not their fault that graduate schools agreed to provide inadequate training in stuttering. They suffer the consequences when they treat children who stutter without proper skills in public schools. Because of this, I have trained many school districts in one-day workshops. I give them the skills needed to treat their childhood stuttering population.
At about this same time I and a few other stuttering experts decided to start a Special Interest Division in Fluency and Fluency Disorders. After several years, we devised a Specialization Program that required advanced training and experience in stuttering, regulated by mentors who certified successful candidates as Board Certified Specialists in Fluency (BCS-F) – Fluency Specialists.
How to find a fluency specialist
There are now about 160 Board Certified Fluency Specialists in the United States. I was a member of the initial cadre that devised the standards for specialization and was recognized as a Board Certified Specialist in 2001. A new organization was formed to monitor this process, the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders. Their website provides a search engine to identify local specialists by state or name and can be accessed HERE
Not only am I a Board Certified Fluency Specialist, but I limit my practice to treating only adults and teens who stutter. I stuttered myself for the first 35 years of my life. ASHA planned to remove the requirements for stuttering training during this time. Some of the stuttering experts and I spoke before the ASHA Convention senate about their decision. Because I had just been through an intensive therapy program, I was able to speak fluently.
We pleaded with them not to abandon the children and adults who stuttered. There were about 200 ASHA representatives in a large ballroom. I told them that without the training of my stuttering therapist Dr. Shames, I would not have been able to express my concerns to this large body. We found out later that they went through with the changes anyway. This is why we need to continue providing extra training after graduate school to those that want to specialize in stuttering treatment.