Stammering - Treatment 

Treating a stammer 

Speech and language therapy

A speech and language therapist explains how the therapy works and who can benefit from it.

Media last reviewed: 11/07/2013

Next review due: 11/07/2015

Teen boys 15-18

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There are many different treatments available for stammering, depending on a person's age and other individual factors.

Some of the most commonly used treatments are described below.

Demands and Capacities Model

It is still unknown why a child will start to stammer at a certain point. One model that tries to explain this is the Demands and Capacities Model.

The Demands and Capacities Model suggests that speech fluency can break down in a child with a tendency to stammer when the demands on their speech are greater than what they are able to produce.

These ‘demands’ are often made by the child, as they put pressure on themselves to communicate in a way that they can't yet manage. 

The goal is to create an environment in which a child feels more relaxed and confident about their use of language. This involves:

  • speaking slowly to the child
  • developing a child-parent interaction
  • avoiding criticising or drawing attention to the child's stammer
  • trying to make the family environment as relaxing and calm as possible

Direct therapy

Most speech and language therapists (SLTs) may recommend direct therapy for cases of moderate to severe stammering that don't seem to be resolving over time.

A widely used type of direct behavioural therapy in the treatment of young children is the Lidcombe Programme.

The Lidcombe Programme is designed to be carried out by the parents of the child and is based on the principle of providing consistent feedback to the child about their speech in a friendly, non-judgemental and supportive way.

Stammering that persists beyond the age of six tends to be more challenging to resolve.

Other therapy options

There are other therapy options more appropriate for adults and those with acquired or late-onset stammering. These include psychological therapies and feedback devices.

Psychological therapies include solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), personal construct therapy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These therapies are not used to treat stammering directly, but may be useful if feelings such as stress and anxiety make stammering worse. During a course of CBT, your therapist may ask you what situations make your stammer worse, and your thoughts and feelings about those situations. Therapy programmes such as NLP can be helpful in providing confidence building techniques.

The British Stammering Association (BSA) has more information on all of the above alternative therapy options.

Feedback devices alter the way the voice is heard. They include:

  • delayed auditory feedback (DAF), which plays your voice back to you a fraction of a second after speaking
  • frequency-shifted auditory feedback (FSAF), which plays your voice back to you at a lower or higher frequency
  • combined DAF/FSAF devices, which use a combination of both methods

Read more information about feedback devices on the BSA website. The BSA, the main support organisation for people with a stammer, will provide a device on loan for two weeks if you are a member of the organisation.

For more information on becoming a member of the BSA, see Join BSA today.


Page last reviewed: 27/07/2012

Next review due: 27/07/2014


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