The Complete List of Stuttering Treatment Techniques

Brain Picture

 

(Updated 6/2019)

This is the most comprehensive (but readable) list of therapy techniques for stuttering you’ll find anywhere.

If you feel like you’re out of your league treating stuttering, you won’t once you finish this list.

Hey, Stephen Groner here, fluently-speaking person who stutters and certified speech-language pathologist. I can still remember the first time I ordered what I actually wanted off a menu, not just what would come out at the time.

Freakin’ freedom. That’s what I want for your clients.

Below you’ll find every helpful stuttering treatment strategy I could find organized by the best age for using them, written in easily-understandable language with practice examples and a link to its source.

Are you ready? Thought so.

 

Age 2-6: Preschool-Age Children

In preschool (ages 2-6), therapy is usually most often about changing the environment around the child who stutters so their brain can figure out to get them more fluent on their own, instead of making a very young child master intricate speech techniques (this is also called indirect therapy).

These first few are some of the best changes to their environment you can make.

The Slowed-Down Speech Technique (For Parents)

This technique does two things: first, it models for your child what a smoother, more fluent way of speaking sounds like and secondly, it builds more time into the conversation so your child will feel less rushed (and therefore be more fluent).

How to do the Slowed-Down Speech Technique:

  1. Whenever you’re talking around your child who stutters, consciously slow down the speed of your words a notch or two, like you’re plodding through snow as you speak:

  2. Soinsteadoftalkinglikethistellingthemaboutgoingtoseegrandma”

  3. “Taalk a bit slllower, liike this, taaking a bit more tiime speeaking comfortaably aand slowly.”

  4. You can also slow down your speech by adding more pauses in natural places and holding them a beat longer than you normally would:

  5. “Soinsteadoftalkinglikethisandneverputtinginabreak...

  6. Talk more like this…….with slight pauses sprinkled throughout your speech…….giving it a..…..more relaxed, easy, and…….open way about it.”

  7. Also, slow down your speech at the beginning of sentences, where children who stutter have it the hardest, by consciously stretching out the beginning of the first word in the sentence:

  8. “Aaaaaaas you talk sweetly to your child or play with them, stretch out the first word in each sentence. Thiiiiiiis will show them that they have more time to speak and get their words out.”

  9. Also, you can reflect your child’s sentences back to them at a slightly slower speed to show them what it sounds like:

  10. So if they say, “I-i-i wwwent to music class t-today a-a-aaand we played the drums!” You would just say “You went to music class today and played their drums?” in a very slow, easy, and relaxed way.

This is all gonna feel slightly weird at first. But it can help an awful lot. And children pick up on it, almost unconsciously. And then it can change the way they speak.

Here’s a source, and another.

The Reduced Demands Technique (for Parents)

Although we don’t often think about it, talking effortlessly in front of people can be pretty difficult, especially if your child stutters.

That’s why it can be so powerful for children who stutter if the demands placed on them around speaking are dialed waaaaaay back.

A lighter speaking burden leads to easier, more fluent speech.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Have daily, one-on-one time alone with your child, just you and them.

  2. Let them take the lead on what gets played with and talked about and follow them there. Whatever they’re interested in is what you should be interested in.

  3. Don’t finish their sentences for them or guess what they’re trying to say, even though it may feel like you’re trying to help.

  4. Make more comments instead of asking questions so they don’t feel like they’re in the hot seat (for example, when talking about a knight, say “He’s climbing up the castle” [comment] instead of “What’s he doing now?” [question]).

  5. When you do ask a question, ask them “closed” questions, which can be answered with a single word or small fact, instead of “open” ones, which require more complicated language,

    For instance, instead of asking, “What did you do in school today?” which is pretty open-ended and complex to answer, you could ask, “Did you go to art class today?” and after that, “Did you like it?” Which require only a “yes” or “no” answer.

  6. Leave a brief pause between turns in the conversation. When they ask or say something, pause for one beat before you respond, to show them they have more time to talk.

  7. Everytime they say something, no matter how it comes out, make them feel like what they’ve said is the most important and meaningful thing in the entire world to you in that moment. Focus on the message beneath the stuttering, not the stop-and-start method in which it’s conveyed.

In the whirlwind of life, young children who stutter can often lose in the competition of communication. Give them an easier way where they can win. They’ll oftentimes be more fluent because of it.

See this source, and this one.

The Verbal Feedback Technique (For Parents; Also called The Lidcombe Program and the Response/Contingencies Approach)

Our brains (especially children’s) are utterly incredible. They’re like Playdoh, changing simply based on the outside feedback we get.

Only meant for children 3-6, making verbal responses about a child’s speech can help their brain learn to speak more fluently without them consciously learning any intricate techniques. Their brains just do it on their own.

These are the five types of responses parents can give to their children based on their speech:

For fluent speech:

  1. Praise them: “Good talking; no bumps!” “That was lovely, smooth talking” or “I’m loving your smooth, easy speech, man!” Be genuine and praise the child in their own special way they like.

  2. Ask them to evaluate their own speech: “Was that smooth?” “Were there any bumps there?”

  3. Simply acknowledge stutter-free speech: “That was smooth,” “No bumps,” “Smooth again.” This is a matter-of-fact statement and not a positive comment.

Most comments should be these ones; ones made for fluent speech.

You can also include some (very rarely though) for unambiguous, overtly stuttered speech:

  1. First, simply acknowledge the stutter: “A little bumpy there,” “That word got stuck.”

  2. Ask for self-correction: “Can you say that again smoothly?” “Try that one again.” This should be the most rare response given and if your child reacts in any way negatively to it, cut it out.

These responses help first to normalize stuttering and make it something that gets talked about, which is rare in our culture.

Then they help to encourage brain change towards fluent speech by providing positive reinforcement for it in everyday life.

See here and here. Oh and here.

The Syllable-Timed Speech Technique (Also called the Westmead Program and the Robot Speech Technique)

Syllable timed speech is a technique that, when practiced every day, can help children decrease their stuttering by 96%. It capitalized on rhythm’s ability to induce fluent speech.

How to do it:

  1. Start by looking at pictures with your child and talk about what you see.

  2. As both of you talk, say one syllable at a time, breaking up your words into syllables and putting a boundary after every one:

  • Soinsteadoftalkinglikethis…

  • Talk.like.this, break.ing.each.word.up.in.to.its.syll.a.bles.and.putt.ing.bound.aries.a.round.each.one.

You might think this would make you sound very strange and it does feel slightly weird at first, but you make it sound more normal if you use your normal tone of voice and speak at your normal speed, simply adding definite boundaries around each syllable.

Once your child can do this looking at pictures as a guide, start using Robot Speech in everyday conversation.

Use this kind of speech in special practice sessions 5-10 minutes long about five times a day and encourage your child to use it outside of those times if they like.

The Phase II clinical trials found that children (aged 3-12 years old) who practiced syllable timed speech in conversation for just 5-10 minutes four to six times per day for 9-12 months reduces their stuttering by 96%.

The same kind of results haven’t been seen in adults, though, likely because their brain’s speech systems are already hard-wired and not as easy to change as children’s.

If you want easy tutorial videos of each of these techniques and simple therapy worksheets to make stuttering therapy easy forever, click here to get "The Ultimate How to Treat Stuttering Package."

 

Age 6 to 12: School-Age Children

Once children hit 6, most are in school (hence “school-age”) and all therapy from here on out is called “direct therapy:” it enlists their help to make direct changes to their speech.

When it comes to direct therapy, there are two major camps: stuttering modification (also called easy stuttering) and fluency shaping (also called speech restructuring and prolonged speech).

Stuttering modification’s main goal is to stutter but stutter quickly, easily, and more effortlessly so one’s speech can move forward faster.

Fluency shaping’s main goal is to eliminate stuttering so one sounds fluent and their speech can more forward faster.

Why would one approach to stuttering treatment not want to totally and completely eliminate stuttering, you ask? Because stuttering, only easily, takes A LOT less work than trying to eliminate it completely.

Which brings up a major point about stuttering therapy: Many people have many different opinions about the “best” way to treat stuttering. And many of them are perfectly right. In the end, different things work for different people. Or many things will work for the same person.

Simply take what works for you and leave the rest.

Learn About the Speech Mechanism

Speaking is the most physically complex thing humans do.

After receiving signals from our brain, more than 100 muscles move precisely in sync with each other over mere tenths of a second every time we open our mouths to talk.

The first biggie is our diaphragm, the muscle lying beneath our lungs that pulls downward, filling our lungs with air when we breathe.

Air is to our speech like gas to a car: without it, it can’t go.

That air is then passed through our larynx, or voice box, in our neck, where a number of tiny muscles vibrate our vocal cords to turn the air into sound, which we know as our voice.

That sound is then funneled through our mouths and nose where our tongue, lips, and teeth, (among some others) shape it into the recognizable sounds we make when we talk.

There are roughly 45 of these speech sounds in English. You may be thinking, “45 sounds...but I thought we only had 26 letters?”

Some letters, however, can stand in for more than one sound. Like how an “e” can make both the “eh” sound in “pet” AND the “ee” sound in “Pete.” Two different “speech” sounds, one letter.

Those 45 speech sounds are divided into two groups. Vowels are sounds where our voice is on and our vocal mechanism (our mouths and throats) are open.

Consonants are sounds where our voice is either on or off and there is some constriction or obstruction of our vocal mechanisms (like our lips coming together to make a “p” sound).

The best evidence has it that weaker neural connections make this rapid-fire, ultra-precise speech system work worse in people who stutter, leading to the disjointed kind of speech we all know.

Find more here.

The Syllable-Timed Speech Technique (Also called the Westmead Program and the Robot Speech Technique)

Mentioned earlier in the preschool age treatment section, syllable timed speech is a technique that, when practiced every day, can help children decrease their stuttering by 96%. It capitalized on rhythm’s ability to induce fluent speech.

How to do it:

  1. Start by looking at pictures with your child and talk about what you see.

  2. As both of you talk, say one syllable at a time, breaking up your words into syllables and putting a boundary after every one:

  • Soinsteadoftalkinglikethis…

  • Talk.like.this, break.ing.each.word.up.in.to.its.syll.a.bles.and.putt.ing.bound.aries.a.round.each.one.

You might think this would make you sound very strange and it does feel slightly weird at first, but you make it sound more normal if you use your normal tone of voice and speak at your normal speed, simply adding definite boundaries around each syllable.

Once your child can do this looking at pictures as a guide, start using Robot Speech in everyday conversation.

Use this kind of speech in special practice sessions 5-10 minutes long about five times a day and encourage your child to use it outside of those times if they like.

The Phase II clinical trials found that children (aged 3-12 years old) who practiced syllable timed speech in conversation for just 5-10 minutes four to six times per day for 9-12 months reduces their stuttering by 96%.

The same kind of results haven’t been seen in adults, though, likely because their brain’s speech systems are already hard-wired and not as easy to change as children’s.

The Cancellation Technique (Also Called a Post-Block Correction)

Many times, people who stutter will ratchet up a lot of tension in their mouths and throats as they try to wrestle their words out.

A cancellation is the stuttering modification technique of pausing after you’ve started stuttering, releasing the held tension, and then stretching out the stuttered sound to say it again fluently.

L-l-l-l (pause to release built-up  pressure) lllllike this.

More here.

The Pull-Out Technique (Also Called an In-Block Correction)

Once you’ve got the cancellation cechnique down, start trying the pull-out Technique. It’s extremely similar to a cancellation, except that you do it once you’re already stuttering. While you’re in the moment of stuttering, stretch out the stuttered sound gently and easily, letting it slide out.

L-l-l-l-lllllike this. You start stuttering, then you stretch out the sound you’re stuttering on to get through it.

More to see here.

The Prepatory Set Technique (Also Called a Pre-Block Correction)

Many people who stutter can see words they’re going to stutter on coming up in their speech, like brick walls rising up out of the road.

Once you’ve mastered the cancellation and pull-out techniques, you can start using the prepatory set technique (also called a pre-block).

A prepatory set is a stuttering modification technique that allows you to ease through stutter instead of coming to a complete and halting stop.

To do them, simply stretch out the first sound in the word that’ll cause you to stutter, moving through it to the next sound and the rest of the word, continuing on with your flow of speech.

Lllllike this.

See more here.

The Light Bounces Technique

Light bounces seek to make stuttering repetitions as gentle, quick, and painless as possible so you can keep moving with your message and not get bogged down in tension.

It does involve actually stuttering, which can be painful, but to do so in a way that doesn’t detract from your message.

To do it, whenever you stutter, don’t try to NOT stutter, that’ll only up the tension. Instead, stutter, but make those points of contact where the stuttering’s happening as light and easy as possible, so you get through it with easy bounces instead of hard stutters.

N-N-N_____NOT LIKE THIS (hard and tense), but l-l-like this (easy and light).

The Voluntary Stuttering Technique (Also Called Pseudostuttering or Negative Practice)

One of the worst parts about stuttering is feeling like you’re out of control.

It’s a frightening, tightening feeling and one many people who stutter quite understandably fight against.

That’s where voluntary stuttering is amazing. It has you intentionally insert stuttering into your speech where you would otherwise have been fluent.

Repeat the first sound of a word gently and easily and then move on until you decide to voluntarily stutter again.

So stuttering on p—p—purpose (just li—like this) slowly, easily, and gently is called vo—voluntary stuttering.

Sounds absolute crazy to most people who stutter, I know. And that’s one of the hardest parts about convincing people who stutter to do it.

But, it injects control into your speech. YOU get to decide when to stutter, instead of it being something that “happens” to you.

And that helps to reduce your (rightfully intense) fear of stuttering moments. Reduced fear then leads to actually more fluent speech.

Find out more here.

The Reduced Rate Technique

Speaking is the most physiologically complex thing humans do, requiring the instant coordination of hundreds of tiny muscles almost without cease.

Simply slowing down the speed at which you talk can buy more time for your brain to take care of everything it needs to do to speak fluently.

It will feel strange at first, almost like you’re walking like a turtle or plodding through snow.

But that extra little bit of time will take away some of the pressure of speaking and allow you to be more fluent.

To practice, say your name at half speed.

Then say the name of the town you’re from.

Then try it with the school you go to or the job you work at.

Just a little bit easier, huh? (Although just telling someone who stutters to “Slow down,” isn’t going to solve their stuttering for them. If it did, we’d all have figured it out already).

Source here.

The Pauses and Phrasing Technique

This one relies on the same principle as the reduced rate technique: buying your brain more time to speak more fluently.

To do it, add more pauses into your speech in reasonable, natural places than normal.

It’ll take some of the mental workload off your brain, freeing it up for more fluent speech.

S-so instead of t-t-talking llllllllike this and not giving y-y-you’re brain a rest…

Try to talk (slight pause) more like this (pause) with thoughtful (slight pause) well-intentioned pauses (pause) sprinkled throughout.

Go here for more.

The Confident Eye Contact Technique

The most common thing people who stutter do in response to stuttering is avert their eyes.

Eye contact is a powerful thing and in a moment of disfluency, that powerful connection can feel like too much to process.

But an incredibly effective way to build confidence and desensitize oneself to the discomfort of stuttering is to maintain eye contact during it.

It might feel uncomfortable at first, but then you’ll see that you don’t die when you stutter and that your listeners stay with you.

It’ll also make them feel more comfortable as you stutter and show them that you’re not afraid and you’re in charge of your speech.

To practice, start off by looking at someone in the eye and telling them your name, making sure to not break eye contact even if (or when) you stutter.

Then do it again with the name of town you’re from.

If you look away, try it again until you don’t looks away.

Try it again with the school you go to or the job you work at.

More here.

The Self-Advertising Technique (Also Called Self-Disclosure)

A lot of people who stutter feel an internal sense of panic in conversations with other people. Will they find me out? What do they think of me? Do they think I’m stupid?

And that’s enough to make anyone stutter even more. The self-advertising technique will take the stressful edge out of any conversation, but it’s also one of the hardest things for a person who stutters to do.

It can bring a flood of peace, take away a lot of the tension, and allow you to think and speak much more clearly.

And all it takes is one simple step:

  1. As you start a conversation, whether it’s with a new client, a new customer on the phone, or as you start a presentation at school, simply share that you stutter and might throughout the conversation. Or point out a stutter once you’ve had one.

I know, I know. To most people who stutter, this sounds like death.

But I have to admit, telling a new client of mine, “Also, I speak with a slight stutter, so if you hear me get caught on a word or two here and there as we talk, just know I need a little more time to get it out, that’s all,” takes away all of the performance anxiety I used to talk with.

It’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, letting someone else in on that about me.

But try it, just once, and see if it doesn’t completely change the whole feel of your conversation.

If you try it once and it doesn’t help at all, then never do it again.

But in my experience, it’s one of the most freeing things a person who stutters can do, if they can muster the courage.

More here.

Join a Stuttering Community Group

For many people who stutter, the whole world has felt like a judgment zone for their entire life. Every conversation risks feeling completely humiliated.

That’s why stuttering support groups can be so life-changing.

Everybody knows what it’s like to be you and so they don’t judge you. You out you’re not alone. That you’re accepted. That you belong.

It’s powerful stuff, overcoming the loneliness of stuttering. It really is. And that can actually reduce how badly you stutter.

Try out these groups just for people who stutter:

 

If you want easy tutorial videos of each of these techniques and simple therapy worksheets to make stuttering therapy easy forever, click here to get "The Ultimate How to Treat Stuttering Package."

 

Age 12 and Up: Adolescents and Adults

Everything that was used for school-aged children can also be used in adolescents and adults, except the Syllable-Timed Speech Technique, which hasn’t been found to translate to adults as well as it does with children.

Here we’ll add the fluency shaping techniques* (also called speech restructuring or prolonged speech) that are some of the most difficult to master but also some of the best at allowing adults to have fluent speech.

*Some school-age children may also be able to do the fluency shaping techniques listed in this section, below, but it’s not guaranteed. Trial-and-error on a case-by-case basis might be possible.

The Stretched Syllable Technique

When you slow down your speech in a systematic way you can become more attuned to it and learn how to change it to make it more fluent.

Without slowing it down, it’s almost impossible to perceive and make the tiny, precise changes needed to speak fluently.

You start the stretched syllable technique by breaking a word down into its syllables. For instance, break “lightly” into the syllables “light” and “ly.”

Then, you stretch out each syllable for 2 full seconds, the first second entirely taken up by the first sound in the syllable, and the second second taken up by all the remaining sounds in the syllable.

In “lightly,” you’d stretch out the “l” for one full second, the “ight” for the other second, leave a second of rest between the two syllables, then stretch out the final “l” for one full second, and the “y” for the last second.

Try saying “lightly” with the stretched syllable technique:

“Llllll (one second)-iiight (two second)” (rest one second) “llllll (one second)-yyyyyy (two second).”

The first sound gets a whole second to itself, then the remaining sounds in the syllable fill up the other second.

Two seconds per syllable.

When you do it, put your mouth in position for the first sound of the syllable and hold it for one second, then transition to producing the rest of the syllable in the remaining second.

There are some speech sounds that cannot or should not be slowed. They’re:

P, B, T, D, K, G, F, S, SH, CH, H, and unvoiced TH. If a syllable starts with one of these, move through it quickly and instead slow the first stretchable sound in the syllable, which will be: A, E, I, O, U, M, N, W, V, L, J, R, Y, Z, or voiced TH.

Want to give it a try?

On: Oooooo-nnnnnn

Lightly: Llllll-iiight — llllll-yyyyyy

Alright, you’re getting good at this. What about these three-syllable words? Break each word into its syllables, then slow each syllable, saying the first sound for one second and the remaining sounds in the syllable for the length of the second second.

Gradual: Grrrrr-aaaaad — uuuuuuuuuuuu — aaaaaa-llllll

Whew. I think you’re ready to bring it all together into sentences. Take your time. Go one word at a time. Use the stretched syllable technique on each syllable.

I will speak fluently:

Iiiiiiiiiiii — wwwwww-iiilll — speeeeeeeeak — fluuuuuuuuuu — eeeeeennnnnt — llllll-yyyyyy

Now, you might have noticed by now that this sounds really weird. Don’t worry, this isn’t how you have to talk for the rest of your life.

It’s just so you can start to feel what your mouth is doing when you make words.

That way you can change them so they come out more fluently.

As you go on with the next few techniques, you’ll speed it up until you’re talking at your normal pace again, this time fluently.

Let’s recap: the stretched syllable technique slows down your speech so you can feel what you’re doing when you make sounds and allow yourself to make changes.

You do it by stretching each syllable in every word for two seconds.

You stretch the first stretchable sound in the syllable for one second, then stretch the remaining sounds in the last second.

More here.

The Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

Breath is to our speech as gas is to a car.

Without it, you’re not going anywhere.

We need to have enough air to speak, but people who stutter can breathe pretty poorly for speech, thanks to years of having to get creative fighting through all those blocks and repetitions.

From shallow breaths, to quick gulps, to squeezing out air when there isn’t any left, most people who stutter don’t have enough gas in the engine to ensure fluent speech.

That’s what the diaphragmatic breathing technique targets.

The diaphragm is the large muscle beneath your lungs that contracts down to expand your lungs and suck in air.

There are also smaller muscles higher up in your chest, rib cage, and neck that can expand your lungs to take in air, but they’re pretty small and we don’t want to rely on them for our breathing.

To get enough air for fluent speech, breathe with your diaphragm.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Feel your mouth, throat, and neck relax and untense, tongue on the floor of your mouth, jaw slightly open, everything open and easy.

  2. Feeling your diaphragm beneath your lungs extend downward towards your seat and, feeling your stomach, not your chest, expanding outward, take in a comfortably full breath of air.

  3. Don’t hesitate or clench at the very top of the breath, just switch immediately into relaxing your diaphragm and feel it naturally ease all the air out of your lungs.

That’s it.

Relax everything.

Focus your attention on your diaphragm and your stomach expanding down and outward (you can put your hand on it and feel it).

Take in a comfortably full breath of air.

Don’t hesitate at the top of the breath, just move straight into releasing the breath, no pausing or clenching, letting the diaphragm gently and naturally contract back to its resting position.

Give it a try.

Take 10 diaphragmatic breaths using the steps above right now.

More here.

The Gentle Onset Technique

Your vocal cords live in your voice box, or larynx, in the front of your throat and when they vibrate, they turn on your voice.

In people who stutter, our vocal cords can turn on too abruptly, causing blocks and stutters.

The gentle onset technique will help you gain control over how abruptly your vocal cords turn on, which will allow you to stutter less.

This is how you do it (for each spoken syllable):

  1. Turn on your voice with the lowest, softest vibrations of your vocal cords as you can.

  2. Smoothly increase both the volume and strength of your voice to your normal speaking volume.

  3. Decrease your vocal cord volume and vibrational strength back to the early, soft level.

That’s it. Easing them on instead of just popping them on will allow your words to flow out more smoothly.

Now, you’ll have to get really used to feeling your vocal cords intuitively to make this technique stick.

It can be helpful to practice the diaphragmatic breathing and stretched syllable techniques with the gentle onset technique.

Try these one-syllable words and sounds using the gentle onset technique.

Ah: aaaAAAAAaaa

In: iiiIIIIIiiin

Eat: eeeEEEEEaaat

Remember to start your voice right at the crest of your comfortably full diaphragmatic breath, with no hesitation at the top, simply softly and smoothly initiating voicing at the softest level possible.

Try these words starting with consonants now using the Gentle Voice Onset Technique.

No: nnnNNNNNnnnooo

Why: wwwWWWWWhhhyyy

Yeah: yyyEEEAAAhhh

Make sure your chest, neck, throat, cheeks, and mouth are relaxed as you do this. Any tension will make it more difficult to do gentle onsets.

Also, if words start with unvoiced consonants (P, B, T, D, K, G, F, S, SH, CH, H, and unvoiced TH), use the gentle onset on the first stretchable sound after the consonant:

Pay: paaaAAAAAaaay

Go: gooOOOOOooo

Cheer: cheeeEEEEEeeer

To recap: the gentle onset technique helps to easily bypass the stutters that arise from the too-abrupt starting of our voices.

To do it, feel your vocal cords turn on at a low, soft vibrational level, smoothly increase to a normal speaking volume and strength, and then decrease to that initial, low level for every syllable.

More here.

The Light Articulatory Contacts Technique

We have to touch or narrow our mouths or throats in some way in order to make all the speech sounds we say.

For instance, “P’s” involve closing both our lips briefly, “L’s” have us put our tongue just behind our top teeth then turn our voices on, and “E’s” are made by bringing our vocal cords together in the bottom of your throat and pulling your lips out to flatten the air.

A lot of stuttering happens at these touch points.

Which is why the light articulatory contacts is huge. It reduces the force and pressure of those constrictions so your speech flows smoothly.

How to do it:

  1. Feel your mouth come into position to say the sound.

  2. Make the touch inside your mouth with as light a touch as possible for it to still sound like the right sound.

Try it with these sounds:

  1. P: “puh”

  2. B: “buh”

  3. K: “kuh”

Make those sounds with as light and soft of a touch of your mouth as you possibly can while still making the sound.

Now try those one-syllable words:

  1. Pot

  2. Tip

  3. Great

And what about these two-syllable words?

  1. Backpack

  2. Fitbit

  3. Lipstick

Finally, try to make all the sounds in these short sentences as lightly as you possibly can:

  1. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

  2. I think I can, I think I can.

That’s it. You’ll get the sounds out, just with a lot less stuttering.

More info on the light articulatory contacts technique here.

The Continuous Phonation Technique

The continuous phonation technique is similar to the gentle onset Technique. In fact, it’s just simply multiple gentle onsets strung together.

It’s doing gentle onsets in running speech.

To do it, use both the steps for the diaphragmatic breathing and gentle onset techniques:

  1. Relax all the muscles in your neck, throat, and mouth.

  2. Take a comfortable, full, diaphragmatic breath, focusing on your diaphragm beneath your lungs expanding downward towards your seat.

  3. With no hesitation at the top of the breath, turn on your voice for the first syllable you want to say with low, soft vibrations of your vocal cords, increase them to a normal speaking strength and volume, then decrease them back to the soft, starting level (but don’t let them die out completely).

  4. Use the low, soft vibrations present at the end of that first syllable to begin the gentle onset for the next syllable, then increase those vibrations to your normal speaking volume, then drop them back down to a soft, low level.

  5. Repeat this cycle of vocal cord vibration ups and downs as you say all the syllables in your sentence. Pretty soon you’ll be able to fit in a number of syllables in one breath before you’ll need to take another diaphragmatic breath.

Alright, try a little bit of practice. Do each of these phrases three times using the continuous phonation technique:

I can (2 syllables = 2 gentle onsets)

I can do (3 syllables = 3 gentle onsets)

I can do this (4 syllables = 4 gentle onsets)

I can do this amazing thing

I can do this amazing thing and

I can do this amazing thing and speak

I can do this amazing thing and speak fluently.

Ta dah! Take a bow.

More here.

The Passive Airflow Technique

If you stutter, you know your stuttering can tend to be worst at the start of your sentences.

That’s because that’s when our brains have to do the most work to map out what we’re going to say and when we have to be the bravest to start speaking in front of people.

The passive airflow technique aims to ease the beginning of sentences to start and keep them flowing fluently.

To learn it:

  1. Start by sitting quietly and take five deep, audible sighs, like you’re sitting down at the end of a long day. Like this: “Ahhhhhhhhh…”

  2. Then, continue to sigh but turn off your voice, making them inaudible, with just the air coming out. Do 10 of these.

  3. The position your vocal cords are in during that relaxed, open sigh are their least tense position.

  4. Let out another silent sigh, and while that relaxed air is flowing passively through your mouth, say the sentence, “I’m speaking fluently,” stretching out the “I” in “I’m,” the first sound of the sentence. The sentence should come out fluently!

  5. Letting out a relaxed sigh opens up your throat and stretching the first sound in the sentence starts off your speech open and relaxed and allows the rest of it to come out fluently.

Try the passive airflow technique right now with these sentences:

  1. “I’m speaking fluently.”

  2. “My name is _________.

  3. “This is nice and easy.”

See more here and here for references.

Delayed/Frequency-Altered Auditory Feedback

Remember when you said the pledge of allegiance in the first grade along with everyone else and your stutter seemed to disappear?

That’s what small, hearing-aid-like devices like the SpeechEasy capitalize on to help people who stutter have more fluent speech.

They pick up your voice as you talk and play it back to you either a few milliseconds delayed (called delayed auditory feedback) or in a slightly different pitch (also called frequency altered feedback), to give people who stutter a second rhythmic signal to speak to to help their stuttering.

They can work remarkably well at inducing fluency, although some do say that the effect can eventually wear off if used 24/7.

See here and here for references.

The Attention Shift Technique

This technique takes your your focus off your stuttering so your brain can fall into that wonderful, spontaneous fluency flow people who stutter sometimes stumble upon.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. As you say each word in your sentence, summon up a literal picture of what that word is describing in your mind’s eye so you focus on the picture of what the word’s saying and not your potentially stuttered speech.

Sounds a little vague and simplistic, I know. But I dare you to try it.

For instance, if I were to say, “Hi, I’d like to order a pizza,” I’d literally picture each thing those words were describing in the sentence as I went, like this:

“Hi (I’d see in my mind’s eye someone waving) I’d (I’d see me pointing to myself) like (I’d see a Valentine’s Day card to stand for “like”) to order (soldier in uniform saluting to stand for “to order”) a pizza (pizza from a Pizza Hut commercial with the cheese dripping down).

Whatever picture each word makes you think of, focus on that as you go, instead of your speech, jumping from picture to picture as you say your sentence.

Take this one: “Today at work, I was so busy I skipped lunch.”

“Today (I’d see a calendar for “today”) at work (I’d see man swinging a pickaxe in a mine), I (I’d see me pointing to myself) was so busy (I’d think of a bunch of bees working in a hive) I skipped (I’d see a little girl playing hopscotch) lunch (a ham sandwich [my favorite]).”

Think of a picture that represents each word in your sentence, not your sentence or thought as a whole.

So, give it a try. Read each sentence first to know what it says, then close your eyes and say the sentence out loud, summoning up a picture each individual word describes.

  1. “When I was a kid, I loved dark chocolate ice cream.”

  2. “My mom’s flying in next week.”

  3. “Did you hear the news about the rescued boys?”

Whatever your mind first thinks of when you say each word, just go with it.

Did you feel the fluency that comes with the attention shift technique?

Focusing on the picture of the word in your mind’s eye takes the pressure off physically saying the word, helping it to come out a whole lot easier.

See more info about this technique here [disclosure, not peer-reviewed, but may still be helpful for some people who stutter so it’s on this list].

The Sing-to-Start Technique

We all know we stutter less, if at all, when we sing. The songs’ built-in rhythm just keeps our speech on track automatically.

The sing-to-start technique capitalizes on that same mechanism to help your speech flow out more naturally and easily.

It doesn’t require any physical changes to your speech, only one, small mental trick before you open your mouth.

How to do it:

  1. As you go to open your mouth to say a new sentence, act in your mind like you’re about to sing it out.

  2. Feel the internal preparation in your mind and body as if you are about to sing what you’re going to say.

  3. Then don’t actually sing your sentence, just say it instead.

You’ll be saying it a whole lot more fluently, though, as your body uses the same fluency success it gets from singing with your spoken words.

Let’s do some practice so you know what it feels like. Say each of these sentences with the sing-to-start sechnique preparation:

  1. My name is _________.

  2. I’m from _________.

  3. Hi, I’d like to order a large pizza with _________, _________, _________.

How did that feel preparing to sing but then just speaking instead?

The sing-to-start technique drops your mind into a very fluent state right as you start to speak, ensuring you speak more fluently than without it.

[Disclosure: not peer-reviewed, but theoretically possibly helpful so it’s included in this list. It’s explained in a video on YouTube that had 187,000 views, so try it out and take it or leave it].

The Modifying Phonation Intervals Technique

Check out this new stuttering treatment for adults: it’s called Modifying Phonation Intervals. Sounds fancy shmancy, I know, but it just means you’re “changing how long your voice is turned on for.”

Some industrious stuttering researchers discovered that having too many short spurts of voice while speaking led to more stuttering in people who stutter.

So they made some software that analyzes the length of the spans your voice is turned on for as you speak and gives you feedback on when you’re making the shortest spans as you talk so your brain naturally learns how to lengthen the time your voice is on and therefore greatly reduce your stuttering.

This technique requires downloading the special app and connecting with a specially-trained speech-language pathologist.

Get more info about this treatment here and get the app here.

Daily Affirmations

Our minds listen closely to what they’re told. That means they think and do what we, or others, tell them, like:

“Whew, I’m so worn out.”

“This is gonna be bad.”

“I’m such an idiot.”

We talk to ourselves all day, every day, and it’s usually not the good stuff.

These internal thoughts actually affect what we choose to do (like take that chance and strike up a conversation with a person in the elevator) or not do (order what we actually want from a restaurant).

I can still remember the when one of my best friends in college told me, “Stephen, you’re a great communicator.” I was stunned, because I sure as heck didn’t feel like I was.

But that compliment has stuck with me for years and it changed the way I saw myself.

That’s why filling our heads with positive messages about speaking can actually help us to speak more fluently. Language has power to change our brains and changed brains are more fluent ones.

So, to do the daily affirmations technique, say these things (or ones you come up with) to yourself 10 times each everyday. Try telling them to yourself right now:

  1. “You are good, important, and loved.”

  2. “You like to connect with people.”

  3. “You love to talk easily.”

Ten times each.

If you want to pick your own that speak to you deeply, choose one that’s about you being safe and okay, one about you interacting easily with others, and one about your speech flowing out smoothly.

You can write them down 10 times each too, every day. Start to tell your brain something different than it’s been told for many years.

Do this for a month and see if something does feel (and sound!) different.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Stuttering means freakin’ tense days.

So. much. effort. to get words out, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Years and years of this can leave us tight and tense where it matters most: in our speech-production systems.

That’s where progressive muscle relaxation can be incredibly powerful: it reminds our brains how to let our muscles relax. It does so by first tensing muscles as hard as they can be, then letting them relax, so our brains remember what that lessening, loosening, relaxing feeling feels like.

It feels slightly counterintuitive to learn to relax muscles by first tightening them up, but just give it a try, like countless other people have, and see how it works.

You can do progressive muscle relaxation for your whole body, but to do it just for your speech muscles, start at the top of your face at your forehead. Scrunch your forehead muscles as hard as you can and hold for five seconds. Say, “Tense, tense, tense” or “tight, tight, tight” to yourself as you hold it. Then, let all that tension go. Become aware of how it feels for that tightness to dissipate. You can say, “relax, relax, relax” to yourself as it melts away.

Go ahead, give it a try right now.

How’d that feel…good? Then, do the same with your face and cheek muscles. Smile as big and wide as you can, squeezing your cheeks tightly. Hold for five seconds, labeling that tension, “tight, tight, tight.” Then release it, feeling the slow, melting dissipation and label it, “relax, relax, relax,” or “light, light, light.”

Go ahead and try it, I’ll wait.

Pretty wonderful, huh? Lastly, do your neck muscles that house your voice box. Squeeze your neck as hard as you can and hold for five seconds, then let it go.

Do this 3 times in a row and see how much less tension is there to stick around and trip you up.

Read more about progressive muscle relaxation here.

The Rewarding Interaction Technique

The quick rundown on how our bodies create movement is that before we even become aware that we’re going to move, our brains are unconsciously preparing us to move.

Then it comes into our conscious awareness and signals are sent from our brain to our muscles to either contract or relax them, allowing us to move.

(Think about how you know that you want to walk somewhere, but you aren’t consciously aware of exactly what you’re doing to pull it off).

And speech is simply movement of our speech muscles.

Now, our brains are constantly trying to keep us safe. So it unconsciously runs a little cost-benefit analysis for every movement we could make, prepping us for the ones that could bring us good and choosing not prepping us for the ones that could hurt.

Since talking with people has usually brought people who stutter immense pain in the past, usually acute shame and embarrassment, it’s been found that their brains don’t unconsciously prepare them for automatic speech in the same way fluent people’s brains do…leading to more stuttered speech.

But there’s a way to help fix this: focusing during a conversation on how rewarding it will be instead of how painful it might be.

How to do it:

  1. While you’re talking to someone, consciously tell yourself how rewarding it will be to speak to and connect with them.

  2. Manifest your belief that talking to them will be rewarding to you and not hurt you.

  3. Summon up these same feelings and tell them to yourself before and after conversations too.

That belief that speaking will be rewarding and not hurtful will help your brain prep your speech muscles for good, fluent movement instead of stuttered speech.

Read more here.

In Conclusion

There you have it. The most comprehensive list of stuttering treatment strategies all in one place. I hope they help you speak more fluently.

To read the great academic reviews of stuttering treatment techniques that formed the foundation of this list, click here to see this one from 2017, this one from 2015, and this one from 2013.

Do you want easy tutorial videos of every technique in this guide, with simple, step-by-step therapy worksheets to make stuttering therapy easy for the rest of your life?

Then click on this link and get "The Ultimate How to Treat Stuttering Package" now. I mean it, click it.