Can speech therapy help people who stutter become more fluent, confident communicators?

Yes, speech therapy can help!

Stuttering is a complex and frustrating speech disorder, especially for children and teens.

Effective treatment requires skills of an experienced clinician. Intervention involves not just the person who stutters but the significant people in the speaker’s life as well.

Kathy Swiney, CCC/SLP; BCS-F, has earned specialty recognition in fluency disorders through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Of the 190,000 ASHA members, less than 200 clinicians have this distinction. See American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders at

Kathy Swiney has over 25 years of experience serving pre-school children, school-aged children, and adults. services are provided in her Memorial/Spring Branch area clinic. Telepractice sessions are also available throughout the state.

Childhood Stuttering

Treatment options:

Fluency Enhancement

Both a family-based prevention program and more direct stuttering intervention are available for preschool and school-aged children.

Indirect treatment is used primarily with very young children. The therapy, modeled and directed by an experienced speech-language pathologist, is implemented by parents or caregivers. One of the most successful indirect treatment methods is the Lidcombe Program. Developed in Australia, this method is supported by impressive research.

Parents, under the supervision of a specially trained speech-language pathologist, provide indirect intervention in the child’s natural environment—the home. The treatment supports the development of fluent speech before a child develops speaking fears and avoidance behaviors. Kathy Swiney is a trained Lidcombe Program provider.

Another type of therapy for school-aged children with equally robust research, is the Gradual Increase in Length and Complexity of Utterance, or GILCU method.

This research-based treatment focuses on both increasing fluency and decreasing speaking fears. This highly regarded method relies on more direct therapy by the clinician with carryover strategies implemented by parents or caregivers.

Depending on the unique needs of the child and family, these two methods are often combined to maximize opportunities for success.

See the video below on how to create an environment which supports fluency.

Teen & Adult Stuttering

Treatment options:

Fluency Shaping

The speech of people who stutter (PWS) contains both fluent and disfluent expressions. Fluency shaping techniques use a speaker’s existing fluency and expand it into more language contexts and speaking situations. Recognizing the fluent parts of his or her speech helps PWS create a more positive view of speaking which, in turn, reduces speaking tension. When speaking anxiety decreases, the ease and fluency of speech increases.

Reading aloud front of a group is very challenging for people who stutter. This young man refused to read aloud during his initial assessment. Eight sessions later, that same young man read an original story to his 2nd grade classmates.

See Kathy on Great Day Houston

Stuttering Modification

This treatment method provides the speaker with strategies to modify the form and intensity of the stuttering moment. The emotional aspects of stuttering are also addressed with the goal of developing healthier attitudes and reactions to the speaking experience. Speakers also learn ways to disclose the fact that they stutter, reduce speaking avoidance, and develop self-advocacy skills. These practices allow PWS to speak with more confidence – whether they stutter or not.

Talking Therapy

For adults and teens who stutter, intervention focuses on increasing communication confidence and reducing speaking anxiety in the social, academic, and professional activities in which they participate. Formal therapy is a combination of clinician and patient directed intervention.

In addition to more structured techniques, “talking therapy” is often a part of individualized treatment plans. Based on the work of Dr. Jerry Halvorson, talking therapy encourages speakers to increase overall communication attempts rather than focus only on decreasing stuttering.

Goals of talking therapy include:

• decreasing speaking fear.
• increasing the quantity and quality of communication.
• embracing rather than avoiding speaking.

Therapy requires specialized support from an experienced speech pathologist and the significant people in the speaker’s environment. This method often has a significant impact on the speaking confidence and communication effectiveness of teens and adults who stutter.

In the clinic, Talking Therapy is the #1 choice of teens and adults.

Individualized Treatment

Because each person is different in terms of experience, maturity, and personality style, treatment involves a combination of techniques that are individualized and vary over time.

SpeechEasy Device

Kathy Swiney is the greater Houston area fitter of the SpeechEasy fluency device. While not a cure, the device can be very helpful in high stress speaking situations. Click here for more information.

Listen to Kathy on 93Q Houston Radio and find out how the SpeechEasy helped improve Erica Rico's son's speech.


How do I know if my child is stuttering?

Most young children become disfluent about the time they start speaking in phrases or sentences. The type of disfluencies a child exhibits can vary. These differences are important.
(Gregory, H, H. & Hill, D. 1993)

Typical disfluencies: Hesitations, revisions of phrases or sentences, repetitions of phrases, or word repetitions without tension. These disfluencies are common in the speech of almost all young children and are not cause for undue concern.

Stuttered-like disfluencies: Word repetitions with tension, 3 or more part word repetitions, prolongation of sounds, or complete blockage of speech. Other behaviors related to stuttering include tremors of the lips, chin or jaw, blinking or loss of eye contact during moments of stuttering.

Stuttering and Your Child: Help for Parents

This excellent video is from the Stuttering Foundation of America. More information is available on their website

Videos for teens are also available.

What are the risks that a child will persist in stuttering?

A number of important studies have found the following factors to be helpful in determining which children may be at higher risk of stuttering.
(Yairi, E. & Ambrose, N. 1992, Ambrose, N. & Yairi, E. 1999 and Yairi, E. & Ambrose, N. 1999).

Gender: Male
Genetics: Family history of stuttering and persistence
Onset of symptoms: After 3 ½ years of age
Persistence: Symptoms persist for 6 to 12 months or longer
Other factors: Speech sound errors, other persistent speech and language disorders

What should teens and adults know about stuttering?

You are not alone. Millions of people have stuttered and gone on to have successful careers and social lives. While stuttering is certainly irritating, it’s not the end of the world. You might enjoy watching one famous person talk about his experience with stuttering

Also see Straight Talk for Teens at

Where can I get more information on stuttering?

The Stuttering Foundation of America Accurate, reliable information about stuttering and stuttering research. Free and inexpensive brochures, books and videos for parents, teachers, teens and physicians.

American Speech Language Hearing Association

Where can I get information on support groups for children and adults?

National Stuttering Association

Friends: National Association for Young People Who Stutter


Speech therapy is a deeply personal journey. See what people are saying.

• Thank you for helping me with the SpeechEasy device. I am now a plant operator for a major oil company. — A. L. Houston, TX

• You’ve not only made strides for our son, you’ve been a friend and an incredible support system as we navigate this journey. — E. M. Houston, TX

• Kathy, thanks for all your help with my son's transition to the university. He's taking his SpeechEasy device and your therapy skills with him! — K. H. Spring, TX

• Thank you, Kathy. You changed my life. — D.O. Houston, TX

• We've been to several therapists over the years without a lot of success. My son refused to attend anymore. We tried one more time with you. After our first visit, he said, “She’s the one who can help me.” — P.M. (Parent of teen) Houston, TX

• Thank you for being my therapist. I just went to the Spelling Bee. I told the judges that I stutter right at the beginning. I WON! Now, I am going to district competition. — P.S. (5th Grade)​ Victoria, TX

• The birthday dinner was such a fun evening! We had lots of laughs. (My son) happily discussed topics with the family. He did not hold back from conversation at all! — Emily (Parent)

• I got the job. I am a little anxious about the first week but I am looking forward to implementing some of the strategies we've discussed in the work setting. — Greg (Adult)

• Thank you for being an awesome speech therapist. You have always been kind and helpful not just with my stutter but also listening to my views on life. — George (Teen), Class of '17

• We have settled into our new home. Our son's speech is very smooth. — Katie (Parent)

• Thanks, you really made a difference. I got the job! — Gupta (Adult)

• I noticed my daughter talks a lot more now. She even got in trouble in class for talking too much. I was actually glad to hear that. You're really helping her a lot and we so appreciate it. — Shawnda (Parent)

• Thanks for the "accommodations" letter to my college. Using the SpeechEasy and taping the presentations at home allows me to present the most fluent discussions I have ever been able to do! — Meyer (Graduate Student)

• I am so grateful for what you have done to help (my child) feel OK about herself and stuttering. It has brought peace to our family. — Kristina (Parent)

• Thank you so much for all you have done for me in the four years of high school. You are a beautiful person and a great speech pathologist. I will miss you. — Dan (Teen)

• Just letting you know that after therapy I am finally taking the rest of the classes I need for my certification. — Joshua (Adult)

• You did such a great job giving us examples of what to do at home. — Cara (Parent)

• The phrasing I learned helped me get A’s on my oral reports. — Drew (MS Student)

• Please know we are thankful for your investment in time, patience, and skill in the speech development and refinement in our precious (daughter). I get raves from my mother-in-law! — Roxy (Parent)

• Thank you so much for always taking our calls, even at odd times, for answering our questions and reasuring us. — Dee (Adult)

• Ms. S - I couldn't do the homework because my mom didn't put it in my backback. — Eric (Child)

• Thank you. I am so proud of my son. He spoke to 100s of people at his grandfather's funeral. If these therapy sessions never do anything more than give my son the confidence to honor his grandfather, it will be well worth it. I was never prouder than at that moment. — Kim (Parent)

• Thank you for being the most funnest speech therapist ever. I really want to be a speech pathologist like you and Ms. Adrian in the future. — Nina (Teen)

• I am engaged. — GUESS WHO (adult)

Contact Me

Have questions? Would you like to set up an appointment? Please feel free to e-mail me by using this form below.

• Telepractice (therapy via the internet) can be provided throughout the state of Texas.