Charles Van Riper developed “Stuttering Modification” techniques in the 1930’s. Clinicians wanted to teach clients to “stutter more easily”. They taught techniques to reduce tension by training muscle relaxation during the moments of stuttering. Some of these procedures are “pull outs” (reducing tension during the stuttering moment) and “cancellations” (completing the stuttering moment and then going back over it with less tension). All of these were somewhat effective in reducing the severity of the stuttering moment, but the stuttering remained.
In the 1970s, fluency shaping was another approach to stuttering treatment. The procedures were very different from stuttering modification. As a matter of fact, the goal of this new therapy was to replace stuttering completely with a new way of talking that allowed the person to talk without stuttering. The goal of this “Fluency Shaping” therapy was not to stutter more easily, but to “speak more fluently”.
The program usually started with the production of a very slow unnatural sounding prolonging of sounds and syllables – but during this time the client did not stutter. Next, the rate and other factors were shaped gradually in steps to sound like normal, natural sounding speech. All the while, the client is still not stuttering.
After the stutter-free speech was established in the clinic, the client was carefully exposed to outside clinic situations. They started with the easiest speaking situations and gradually progressed to more difficult situations until the client was able to speak without stuttering to anyone all day long. Good examples of this type of program are the Stutter-Free Speech Program or the MPI Stuttering Treatment Program.
There has been little research on the effectiveness of Stuttering Modification. One study shows that it is less effective than Fluency Shaping. There have been many research studies on Fluency Shaping. Most show significant reductions in stuttering. Especially when the program is provided as an intensive stuttering therapy program by a stuttering specialist.
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