Effective Change of Behaviors
Changing any behavior, whether it's
quitting smoking, losing weight or changing the way you speak, is
difficult. And, once the behavior has been changed, it is even
more difficult to maintain that change. Considering the
challenges of successfully maintaining behavior change in
general, it is not surprising that many people who stutter have
difficulty maintaining the improved communication abilities they
developed during treatment.
Following is a list of some of the concepts
and strategies that underlie effective self-change and
maintenance of that change. These strategies were learned while
working with stutterers in the maintenance phase of treatment and
by reading literature in the areas of stuttering and other
behavior problems. Understanding these ideas and using these
strategies will make it easier to maintain the gains made in
treatment for the long haul.
- Maintenance is not a static
stage. It is an active, busy period of change
and learning to cope with challenges. According to Einer
Boberg, maintenance is like walking on a treadmill
if you stop walking, you fall off.
- Change is a process with ups
and downs. In one study only 5% of people trying
to change problem behaviors made it through the cycle
without any setbacks.
- The difference between a lapse
and a relapse in the reaction to the experience. With
a lapse, you get back on track and learn from your
- Feelings and attitudes have a
strong connection to behavior. Negative thinking
can sabotage attempts to change and have a profound
influence on what you do before, during and after
- Integrate practice into your
daily life. Weave speech practice into the
fabric of your everyday living, but do it in a well-planned,
goal-directed way. Remember, ongoing practice takes
- Tackle avoidances.
This will help you overcome your fear of stuttering and
increase your self-confidence and feeling of being in
- Cultivate a supportive
environment. Let your family, friends and
coworkers know what you need. Join a support group for
people who stutter.
- Think of return visits to a
speech clinic as a natural part of the maintenance
process. Return visits give you the opportunity
to refresh skills, reframe problems and challenges and
renew personal commitment.
- Renew your commitment to
change. Make a regular time to reflect on your
accomplishments, to identify new goals and to renew your
commitment to change.
- Recognize your successes and
celebrate them. Look for both large and small
successes. Reward yourself for achieving your practice
goals. Keep a daily record of your notable successes and
review it when you're having a tough day.
- Create a new lifestyle. Meet
new people and find more opportunities to talk. It can
feel strange and unnatural to use your new fluency skills
with people your are familiar with. And, cues in your
environment can trigger the old ways of speaking and
acting. Getting involved in new activities with different
people can help you practice your fluency skills and
allow you to develop an image of yourself as a more
fluent, comfortable, talkative speaker.
- Be open about your stuttering
and your speech techniques and the need to manage your
speech. Openness counteracts pressure for
fluency that can cause tension and lead to struggle and
(The above information was taken from
Deborah Kully's Speech to the 1998 Canadian Stuttering
Conference, which was published in the monthly newsletter of
Speak Easy, Inc, a Canadian support group for adults who stutter.)
If you have
questions or need more information you can contact me at:
Overton Speech &
Language Center, Inc.
Fort Worth, TX
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Copyright © 2001 Overton
Speech & Language Center, Inc.
Last revised: May 05, 2001