A sophomore presented at the university counseling center complaining of stuttering during her speech class. Her next speech, due in three weeks, was to be the longest yet, and she felt terrified. By using guided imagery to recreate the actual event of giving a speech, Jenna was able to explore changes in her anxiety level and automatic thoughts on a moment-to-moment basis, from preparing the speech the night before, to getting up to give the speech, to saying her first words, to starting to stutter, and then to finishing and sitting down again. Most of these cognitions focused on making a fool of herself. To deal with the immediate threat, the upcoming speech, graded exposure through imagery was used to help extinguish her anxiety reaction. Although the speech was not the very best in the class, it was also not the catastrophe she feared. Following this, therapy began to focus more broadly on self-esteem issues that had punished all attempts at self-assertion almost from her earliest memories. By addressing the immediate problem and then shifting the focus to broader personality issues that would otherwise tend to reinstate the original problem, the client was able to take an advanced speaking course, receiving a B+ for her effort.
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Discover Simple Techniques to Help Control Your Stutter. Stuttering is annoying and embarrassing. If you or a member of your family stutters, you already know the impact it can have on your everyday life. Stuttering interferes with communication, and can make social situations very difficult. It can even be harmful to your school or business life.