Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Charles Van Riper on "being willing to stutter."

Charles Van Riper was probably the most important stuttering therapist of the twentieth century in the United States. His methods have been adopted widely, and his books and other writing were highly influential. A recording of an interview he once gave is available here linked to the words "this interview."

"...these therapists who suggest that stutterers be willing to stutter.... I think that's outrageous. It asks the impossible. On the other hand, you can ask them to study what they're doing, to learn how to change what they're doing, and to find an easier way to respond to the fear of stuttering or to the feel of stuttering. If, when fear comes, he doesn't just panic, but he tackles that word carefully, if a moment of stuttering comes, he finds an easier way out of it, making faces, all of the unnecessary things that he's learned... you can be willing to work, but you can't be willing to stutter, I think. [my emphasis in bold]

Van Riper saw stuttering as an affliction to be confronted and overcome. I find it interesting that some speech therapists today use Van Riper's techniques, which are based on Van Riper's understanding of stuttering, yet seem to be more interested in the confronting and "accepting" than in overcoming.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark

    Just a note on Van Riper. I've also read both his The Nature of Stuttering, and The Treatment of Stuttering. Both books contain a mass of valuable information, but much of it is also hopelessly out of date. For instance, he shows very little insight in the nature of stress - in fact, The Nature of Stuttering doesn't contain a single reference to Hans Selye, the father of stress research. For me, that greatly diminishes Van Riper's value. Bearing in mind his huge influence, his lack of understanding of stress is probably a major reason why the quality of speech pathology has, for many years, been what it has been - out of touch with real life. Fact is that Selye has created a new paradigm which impacts on stuttering - those who do not understand stress, will not understand stuttering. Regards.