Stuttering affects people in individual ways, and there are multiple factors which may influence a person’s goals when seeking therapy. Even though there is a common consensus that speech-language pathologists should discuss the individual’s goals and expectations for stuttering therapy and outcomes, few studies have systematically investigated this issue.
The aims of the present study were to investigate individual motivations and goal-setting related factors in stuttering therapy. The associations between self-reported impact of stuttering and the participants’ perceptions of stuttering interference in communication, speaking abilities, and relationships with other people were also investigated.
This study is part of a wider-ranging treatment study of individualized stuttering management tailored to the participants’ personal goals and preferences. A mixed method, multiple single-case design was used to address the research questions. Twenty-one adults, age 21–61 years, took part in a pretherapy interview, which also included two quantitative measures: the Client Preferences for Stuttering Therapy-Extended version (CPST-E) and the Overall Assessment of Speakers’ Experience of Stuttering-Adult version (OASES-A). Findings from the study sample was compared with a Norwegian reference group, in order to check for the representativeness of the study sample.
Quantitative data showed that most participants wanted to focus on both physical and psychological aspects of therapy, and that 95% considered ‘to gain a sense of control over the stuttering’ as important. Participants’ perspectives on their speaking ability and stuttering interference in communication were identified as central factors, particularly in social and professional settings. These outcomes aligned well with the finding of avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding words and speaking situations. Qualitative data identified four main areas that the participants wanted to improve: speech fluency, emotional functioning, activity and participation, and understanding of their stuttering.
The study confirms that multiple and individual factors may influence the person’s goals for therapy. Goals were mainly anchored in participants’ wish of better coping in real world settings. A high degree of avoidance behavior was reported, suggesting that anxiety, and in particular linguistic-related anxiety needs to be taken into account when addressing social anxiety in fluency disorders.
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