A Case Study
Stephen Kostes from Europe (Fictitious name for anonymity)
My experience with stammering is very similar with most people that suffer from the same thing. From my very early years I tried to hide it, overcome it, cure it, and accept it. All my efforts were almost fruitless. I felt that stammering controlled every aspect of my life and especially my choices in life.
I went to therapy twice. The first therapy did not help me at all, it actually made me worse and I quit it in the very beginning. The second therapy helped a lot. It did not make me fluent, but it took away the severe blocks. My speech was interrupted by many small blocks, but at least the severe blocks with the accompanying struggle to overcome them, were gone. I have to point out here that no therapist gave me false hopes. They did not promise fluency. They promised significant improvement. This was both good and bad. On one hand I did not have false hopes. On the other hand I felt that there was no hope at all. And under this perspective I adjusted my life to my stammering.
Things were going quite smoothly, but I knew that this was somehow an artificial state. I knew that sometime I would have to confront my stammering, because I could not always avoid situations (especially in the professional field) where my stammering would be a liability. And I also knew that stammering was the source of phobias and insecurities that would certainly affect my personal life. Well, as a saying goes, it never rains, it pours. And almost simultaneously my personal and professional life crashed. And I knew that one major part of this crash was caused by stammering.
At that time a friend of mine introduced me to NLP. In the beginning I was just curious. Soon this curiosity became a strong interest. NLP cuts through the essence of things and provides solutions, the “how to do it” rather than the “why” – why is of little practical help in resolving problems. Soon I started to wonder whether NLP could help me with my stammering. I conducted my search mainly through the Internet and after visiting tens of sites dealing with NLP I came along neurosemantics.com. For the first time I saw a thorough approach to stammering. Not just an article on some obscure approach, or just theories on how it is caused and what should a stammerer do, but many articles on how to actually deal with the problem and solve it. And among the articles, was one by Linda Rounds with Bob Bodenhamer. I could totally identify with Linda Round’s experience and Bob’s approach. No miracles, no drugs, no tricks to overcome or avoid blocks, just the utilization of a person’s powerful resources and the belief in God.
I studied these articles very carefully and I started practicing. Soon I realized that I could not do it on my own. I lacked the deep knowledge in NLP and I could not be the therapist and the patient at the same time. I needed professional help. I e-mailed Bob and he responded promptly saying that he was willing to help me. Since I live in Europe, I asked him whether we could do our sessions using the teleconference facilities of instant messaging software. He agreed and after numerous efforts we set it up.
In our three sessions Bob used mainly the drop-down through technique and time line therapy to disassociate (meta-state) feelings and situations from my stammering experience.
In the drop-down through technique we established a strong reference point and we took each negative feeling to this reference point. I am a visual type of person and, like Bob and Linda, I hold strong religious beliefs. With Bob’s guidance we established a very strong reference point (resource) that combined both these characteristics and we took each negative feeling to this sacred for me place. They were all neutralized (meta-stated) in insignificant nuisances that had no impact on me anymore.
Then Bob used the time-line therapy pattern to work with a particularly strong incident from my childhood that played a major part in how I perceived my stammering. This incident had instilled three very important feelings that follow me through my life and most stammerers know too well – guilt, shame and incompetence. Just think how many times you felt these things and tried to hide them either by retreating to your personal shell, or by attacking those near you. This was a very strong experience and it was the first time I talked about it to anybody. And although I was over flooded with emotions I felt secure with Bob to guide me through this traumatic event and make me meta-state it. When this was over it, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders. I felt, and most importantly, I knew that my life would become better in so many ways.
After concluding the treatment I am much-much more fluent. I speak to other people and I often amaze myself with this new found fluency. And although I am not totally fluent yet, I feel that I am getting there. After all a cognitive behavior such as stammering that has developed over 30 years of practice, cannot disappear immediately. Think of any bad habit that you have and you will understand this better.
I have to point out some things however. This treatment, like every other treatment depends very much on how one approaches it. To be successful with this treatment, one must:
- Be determined to succeed. I had always wanted very much to become fluent, but at this time of my life, due to various events, I had really decided to get rid of stammering. Until now I wished that stammering would go away by some miraculous treatment, drug, whatever. Now I was more determined than ever to get over it.
- Have faith. For me, my religious beliefs were a reference point that I could turn and rely on. For others it may be something else. This reference point has to be so strong that will neutralize everything bad.
- Understand the impact of stammering in behavior. Stammering is not only a way of speaking. Unfortunately it is a way of thinking and ultimately living with fears, phobias and negative emotions regarding you and the people around you. Getting rid of it is not merely speaking fluently, but living fluently. It is about choices, freedom and realizing the full potential of life.
My stammering has lessened significantly and I often amaze myself with this new found fluency. On the other hand I realize now more than ever that stammering is not only a way of speaking, but ultimately a way of living and that there are many things that I will have to overcome. After all my map of the world has been very much influenced by my stammering.