Farewell to a Dear Friend and Hero – John Glenn

john-glenn
John Glenn

At Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), we lost a dear friend this week with the passing of John Glenn, an American hero recognized for his history-making journeys into space, stellar military service, and leadership as an Ohio senator for 25 years.

Our relationship with the Glenns began more than forty years ago when we received a call from them requesting information about HCRI’s stuttering therapy program. John’s wife, Annie, lived with a severe stutter.

HCRI President Dr. Ron Webster with Annie and John Glenn at the Institute's 35th Anniversary Event
HCRI President Dr. Ron Webster with Annie and John Glenn at the Institute’s 35th anniversary event.

Annie faced remarkable communication challenges throughout her life. She avoided talking on the phone, found face-to-face communications extremely difficult, and tried to escape the spotlight at a time when her husband was receiving national acclaim for being the first American to orbit the Earth.

Yet, John saw his wife as the true hero and champion in the family, based on her unyielding determination, strength, and talent. His love and adoration for Annie was always apparent for all to witness.

The couple learned about HCRI while watching an interview on national television with HCRI Founder and President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. They contacted the Institute to learn if the advanced treatment offered at HCRI could help Annie. Stuttering was holding her back in life and, most importantly, she wanted the ability to talk with her grandchildren and read a story to them without stuttering.

After consulting with Dr. Webster about HCRI’s behavioral therapy approach, Annie decided to attend our therapy program in Roanoke, Virginia. She was 53 years old.

At the conclusion of her intensive three-week treatment program, she asked to use the phone to call John before she returned home. He was surprised to hear her voice on the phone. She spoke clearly and fluently for the first time in her life. The call brought John to tears.

With her stuttering under control, Annie’s world opened up. She became an advocate for people with communications disorders and dedicated her time to helping a multitude of organizations by serving on boards and committees, as well as taking on high-profile speaking opportunities. She readily joined John at public events and felt comfortable talking with attendees and answering questions. Her world was transformed through her ability to speak fluently.

Following therapy, Annie and John stayed in close touch with HCRI and Dr. Webster. They communicated through phone calls and emails. And, the couple returned to Roanoke many times to attend HCRI reunions where John always made sure that Annie was the spotlight rather than him. In addition, Annie served as the keynote speaker at HCRI’s building dedication.

We will deeply miss John and consider our long-standing friendship with the Glenns truly special. Annie is an inspiration to people who stutter and exemplifies how life can significantly change through fluency.

Is HCRI Stuttering Therapy Worth Your Time and Money?

By Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI President

Many individuals who stutter have participated in a spectrum of speech therapies beginning at a young age. Concerned parents enroll their sons and daughters in traditional speech treatment through schools and/or with private therapists to help stop the stuttering. Treatment typically begins in elementary school and can last through the teen years.

For those who experience persistent stuttering after the age of 12, these well-intentioned efforts show minimal or no lasting fluency results. Compounding the impact of stuttering in daily life, the lack of fluency outcomes from treatment produce increasing frustration, confidence erosion and thinner wallets.

At Hollins Communications Research Institute, we find that the majority of people who contact us share this real-life scenario. As adults, many reach out as a last resort. They are at a tipping point where achieving fluency can change their trajectory in life – whether it be related to their academic achievement, career choice or personal lives.

They are deeply discouraged by their past treatment experiences, as well as the time and money they invested in therapies that didn’t work. When they contact us, these individuals inquire about expected outcomes from HCRI’s 12-day stuttering treatment and ask about the program fee. We welcome these and other questions.

Value of Stuttering Therapy

HCRI Treatment Outcomes – What You Can Expect

HCRI stuttering therapy works with a very wide range of stuttering types and severity.  After 12 days of systematic and intensive treatment, 93% of participants achieve fluency. When evaluated one and two years post therapy, 70-75% retain the ability to control their stuttering and speak fluently. This means you can expect similar results.

As you consider your therapy options, we encourage you to ask other providers for their statistics on successful treatment outcomes to better understand your probability of positive fluency results.

Science is at the core of the consistent outcomes that HCRI stuttering therapy delivers. Our in-house research scientists pioneered the concept of comprehensive behavioral therapy for stuttering after HCRI investigative work revealed stuttering is a physical phenomenon – and needs to be treated as such. Utilizing data and test results with thousands of stuttering cases, the HCRI team designed a sophisticated, powerful treatment that helps people achieve fluency in 12 days. Our therapy program has been continually enhanced through the years and is now in its fourth generation.

HCRI stuttering treatment teaches participants how to replace faulty speech muscle movements that cause stuttering with new speech muscle behaviors that enable fluency. In addition, we invented new ways to use technology in therapy that facilitate the learning of lasting fluency skills.

HCRI Therapy Cost and Value 

The cost of stuttering therapy at HCRI represents a significant value when the therapy fee and results are considered together. At HCRI, clients benefit from a scientifically proven treatment program, administered by world-class clinicians, with a high probability of a positive and lasting outcome.

The 100 hours spent in HCRI’s stuttering therapy program equate to $42.85 per hour. This is likely much less than spending the same amount of time with traditional speech therapists. In addition to investing $4,285 for comprehensive treatment and post-therapy support, we recognize that travel and lodging costs will be incurred. Yet, consider these factors in relation to the speech outcomes from program participation.

At HCRI, you acquire fluency skills you can use for the rest of your life.

Also, consider the enormous value experienced daily by HCRI therapy graduates who enjoy the benefits of fluent speech in their everyday lives. After all, stuttering has significant personal costs. When you think about the human potential that is bottled up within a person who stutters, and the fact that this set of extraordinary capabilities is not realized, the costs of stuttering are enormous.

There is yet another cost of stuttering. It involves the cost that comes from missing the simple joy of speaking freely and fluently at will.

Taking into account all factors related to stuttering and treatment, the value of HCRI stuttering therapy is exceedingly strong. The treatment fee relative to therapy results yields tremendous value – quite possibly one of the best values available anywhere.

HCRI’s Roanoke, Virginia stuttering treatment center is easily accessible and within a day’s drive of 65% of the U.S. population. We offer several options to help you meet the cost of therapy. We have payment plans, scholarships and advice on agencies that might assist in meeting your costs. Our staff will help you in every way possible to make HCRI stuttering therapy available to you. Please contact us at info@stuttering.org or 855-236-7032.

HCRI News and Happenings

This year has been exhilarating for our nonprofit institute. In addition to treating a growing number of stuttering therapy clients, our team at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) has been hard at work testing a new service offering and developing more treatment innovations that advance fluency outcomes. Following is an overview of HCRI news and activities.


 

New Therapy Release

In August, we launched a new “high definition” version of our stuttering therapy program. This new release elevates HCRI treatment to an unprecedented level of precision and ease with which fluency can be learned. For details, click here: Hollins Fluency System III.

Pilot Training Program for Parents of Children who Stutter

parentschildTo address growing demand, we are testing a new service designed to teach parents of young children who stutter how to effectively work with their sons and daughters to promote fluent speech.

This training initiative involves a series of individualized sessions with parents and kids at HCRI. Over two and a half days, we impart specialized speech techniques and exercises that parents can put into practice with their children when they return home. Then, we follow-up with the parents to monitor progress. More testing and refining will continue over the coming months and into 2017.

Remote-Access Therapy Testing

remotetherapyTrials continue to determine the viability of offering remote-access, quality-controlled alumni refresher programs via the web using an iPad, computer or late-model iPhone. The use of Bluetooth headsets with these devices facilitates instruction, speech measurement and fluency progress.

Current findings show great promise. Our goal is to be able to offer refreshers – and ultimately the HCRI stuttering therapy program – to anyone, anywhere who has a device and internet connection.

Multi-Dimensional, Automated Speech Measurement

stuttering speech measurementOur team is developing new technology that automates the measurement of speech at a level of detail that enables us to better examine how stuttering is physically differentiated from fluent speech.

As we develop this new system, we will evaluate how well we can use objectively extracted acoustic features to assist in improving the diagnosis and treatment of stuttering. Our early work is encouraging. We are continuing our efforts to reach the stage where practical clinical benefits can be achieved.


 

At HCRI, we continue to push forward advancing stuttering treatment and helping people from across the U.S. and worldwide achieve their full potential in life through fluency. It is a privilege and a pleasure to serve our clients and alumni on an ongoing basis.

We are always here for you and encourage you to reach out if you need assistance, have questions or want to connect for any reason. Contact us at info@stuttering.org or 855-236-7032.

Overcoming Stuttering Enabled a Dream Career

Bethany Marcusson-Mercedes works at a thriving start-up company that specializes in educational technology. As an experienced educator and school administrator, she is uniquely qualified in her role as a trainer and teacher liaison to help the company transform classrooms around the globe using new mobile technology.

HCRI alumna Bethany Marcusson-Mercedes with her husband Chris.
HCRI alumna Bethany Marcusson-Mercedes is shown here with her husband Chris.

Bethany’s responsibilities involve regular travel and speaking in front of large groups of educators on an ongoing basis. With the confidence and expertise she exudes in her presentations, no one is aware that Bethany has lived with a stuttering condition that impacted her ability to speak fluently since the age of three.

Beginning in elementary school, Bethany’s parents were proactive and enrolled her in speech therapy to address her stuttering. While she worked hard in therapy year after year, she continued to struggle with her speech on a daily basis.

She confronted ongoing communication challenges and was mocked by classmates because of her stuttering. Yet, with ever-growing fortitude and the encouragement of her parents, she pushed forward with her young life and participated in school and extracurricular activities.

Then, when she was 16 years old, Bethany and her parents were introduced to an engaging woman at their church who also had a stuttering condition – yet spoke fluently. Bethany learned that her new friend participated in the stuttering therapy program at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org) in Roanoke, Virginia where she acquired skills to speak fluently and spontaneously.

Developed by stuttering expert and HCRI Founder Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI stuttering therapy is a science-based, 12-day behavioral treatment that has been tested with thousands of stuttering cases. HCRI’s specially trained clinicians utilize detailed behavioral therapy protocols and advanced technology to systematically teach people how to replace abnormal muscle contractions that cause stuttering with specific, new muscle movements that generate fluent speech.

“Our center’s early research demonstrated that stuttering is a physical condition and not emotionally based. HCRI therapy teaches individuals how to control the physically derived repetitions, prolongations and voice blockages that characterize stuttered speech.” Webster explained. “During our treatment program, clients are methodically taught new ways of speaking that enable them to stop stuttering and generate fluent conversations in everyday situations.”

That meeting at church was a turning point in Bethany’s life. Her parents enrolled her in HCRI stuttering therapy. Bethany was excited about her treatment program and seized the opportunity to acquire skills that would enable her to take charge of her stuttering once and for all.

“I found HCRI stuttering therapy hard work. Each day was intensive and led to the next step in the treatment process. The other therapy participants and clinicians were an excellent support system throughout the program and afterwards,” Bethany said.

By the end of her treatment, the teen could speak fluently for the first time in her life. The therapy was transforming. Yet, Bethany knew that she had to commit to practicing her new speech skills every day once she returned home.

“Daily practice helped me habituate my fluency capabilities. While some days were harder than others, I continued to persevere to control my stuttering,” Bethany explained.

Even now, many years later, when she is preparing to speak in front of groups, Bethany mentally reviews the fundamental fluency principles she learned at HCRI.

“Without a doubt, I would not have the career that I have today without HCRI. The therapy and ongoing support from HCRI have made such a difference in my life,” she concluded.

Bethany’s Advice to Individuals who Stutter

  • Never let stuttering define you.
  • Don’t give up if you have a hard time.
  • Don’t let fears stand in the way of what you can achieve.
  • Get the help you need to make a difference in your life.
  • Stay connected to people, utilize available tools and have a support system you can always count on.

About HCRI

Hollins Communications Research Institute was founded by Ronald L Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of innovative, scientifically derived therapy approaches.

HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,500 individuals from across the U.S. and 50 countries. Research shows that 93% of therapy participants achieve fluency by the end of their 12-day program. Follow-up studies one and two years post therapy reveal 70-75% of clients maintain their fluent speech.

HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, contact HCRI at info@stuttering.org or 855-236-7032.

Dr. Ron Webster’s Pioneering Work in Stuttering

A Career Dedicated to Helping People Who Stutter Achieve Fluency

Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.

Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., Founder and President of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) observed stuttering for the first time when he was a graduate student at Louisiana State University. One of his professors stuttered. Webster was moved by this impressive man’s courage to face students and lecture each day, despite having a speech disorder.

After graduate school, Webster began a multi-dimensional career as a research scientist, psychology professor and clinical psychologist. At the same time, he pursued his keen interest in the study of speech. Webster conducted research on speech development and collaborated with speech experts from across the country.

This work led him to a passionate concern about stuttering and the realization that no effective treatment existed to help people with the disorder. Webster set out to change that. The year was 1966. He began a life-long mission to investigate stuttering using empirical science and learn everything he could about the difficult-to-treat and misunderstood condition.

His intensive research revealed remarkable findings, which countered broadly accepted assumptions that stuttering was grounded in emotional or mental issues. Instead, Webster’s work demonstrated that stuttering is physically derived, with specific, distorted speech-muscle activities and patterns that give rise to stuttering.

WSLS News Segment - Dr. Ron Webster
WSLS-TV reporter interviews Dr. Ron Webster about his pioneering work in stuttering and the science-based stuttering therapy program at his nonprofit Hollins Communications Research Institute.

Once he quantitatively defined speech-muscle “events” that cause stuttering, Webster’s research efforts turned to identifying ways to alter these events to enable fluent speech.

Webster’s work was groundbreaking. The outcomes led to his developing the first systematic, behavioral stuttering therapy program. He founded nonprofit Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) in 1972 to continue his research and administer effective, science-based stuttering therapy.

HCRI’s 12-day stuttering treatment program teaches individuals how to replace faulty speech muscle movements that cause stuttering with new muscle events that generate fluent speech. Research shows 93% of program participants achieve fluency by the end of treatment. Follow-up studies reveal 70% to 75% retain fluent speech when evaluated one and two years post therapy. ​These outcomes stand in contrast to traditional speech therapies and devices that may only produce fluency results in approximately 25% of cases.

Webster and his HCRI team continually enhance the Institute’s quality-controlled therapy program, based on the latest research findings and technology. To make fluency acquisition easier and long lasting for clients, they have:

  • Increased the specificity of treatment protocols
  • Invented electronic speech measurement systems for use in therapy
  • Integrated the use of computers into the therapy process
  • Developed a 500-hour HCRI clinician certification program
  • Incorporated quality controls into treatment
  • Created a sophisticated “therapist in your pocket” app

These ongoing advancements raise the bar on stuttering treatment excellence. U.S. patents have been awarded to Webster for some of these stuttering therapy innovations. 

Since HCRI opened its doors, more than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to the Virginia-based treatment center.​ Clients include broadcaster John Stossel of Fox News; Annie Glenn, wife of Senator and Astronaut John Glenn; as well as athletes, teachers, engineers, students, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, a Supreme Court nominee and even royalty.

Dr. Webster and the HCRI team continue to push forward with their commitment to transforming lives through fluency. This includes testing the feasibility of online therapy delivery to increase accessibility, as well as partnering with the National Institutes of Health on a pioneering study that confirmed a genetic link to stuttering.

For more information about HCRI stuttering therapy, please visit www.stuttering.org. Contact HCRI at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.

 

How Fluency Changed Scott Nickell’s Trajectory in Life

Scott Nickell spends his work days calling prospects, conducting face-to-face meetings, strategizing solutions with co-workers, and giving presentations to packed rooms of industry professionals.

Scott Nickell - HCRI Therapy Participant
Scott Nickell

As Business Development Manager for a leading distribution company, success depends on Scott’s ability to effectively communicate with decision makers and convey how his company can transform their operational systems into a competitive advantage.

His daily communication requirements are demanding even for the most eloquent and powerful speakers. Though, the gift of speech isn’t something Scott takes for granted – and it isn’t something that comes naturally or easily. He lives with a stuttering condition that surfaced in his youth.

In school, his stuttering hindered his ability to socialize and diminished his self-confidence. He couldn’t say certain words and struggled to communicate each day.

After trying traditional speech therapies with no success, Scott’s parents heard about the unique behavioral therapy offered at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) in Roanoke, Virginia. They enrolled him in the intensive treatment program when he was 12 years old.

“My parents and I saw HCRI as the last shot. The ability to speak fluently meant everything to me and I was committed to giving 110 percent to the therapy program,” Scott recalled.

He found HCRI stuttering treatment unlike any other therapy experience. It was hard work and he was the youngest of 10 participants in his therapy group. Yet, HCRI clinicians provided tremendous support and guided Scott through each step in the treatment process.

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI clinicians work one-on-one with therapy participants and help them learn new, specifically defined ways to use speech muscles that enable the ability to speak fluently. Webster and his research team invented HCRI’s comprehensive behavioral therapy approach, which has been tested with thousands of people who stutter and continually refined through the years.

“Today, the use of advanced computer technology and real-time speech measurement during therapy at HCRI makes fluency acquisition even easier and more precise for participants,” Webster said. “In addition, our post-therapy clinical support and a comprehensive package of practice tools keep participants on track with fluency throughout their lives.”

HCRI research demonstrates that 93 percent of therapy participants achieve fluent speech at the conclusion of their treatment. When evaluated two years later, 75 percent of participants maintained their fluency.

By the end of his HCRI program, Scott spoke fluently for the first time in his life. When he returned home, people could not believe how well he spoke. It was exhilarating for the 12-year-old to talk like everyone else.

However, Scott is quick to point out that it is easy to fall back to old speaking habits without ongoing practice of the speech skills he learned during treatment. In fact, he practiced his HCRI fluency techniques every day for many years.

“When you are a stutterer, how you talk is always in the back of your mind,” he said. “Even to this day, I recall my HCRI fluency training and take advantage of HCRI’s online fluency-practice tools that are available to alumni.”

Scott believes his experience with HCRI at an early age changed his trajectory in life – from his educational achievement to his career success. “I talk every single day, every single hour, as part of my job. I love what I do. I would be in a completely different line of work if it hadn’t been for HCRI. I don’t know where I would be without fluent speech,” he added.

HCRI clinicians have treated nearly 7,000 people who stutter, aged 11 to 73, from 50 countries. Clients include students, broadcasters, athletes, teachers, engineers, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, paramedics, and others from all walks of life. For more information about HCRI stuttering therapy, visit www.stuttering.org.

Producer and Filmmaker Elan Dassani Overcomes Stuttering, Makes his Mark in an Industry Where Talk is Everything

 

Elan Dassani in MoscowAs a sought-after television series producer and filmmaker, Elan Dassani’s ability to effectually communicate with directors, actors, visual-effects artists, and staffers is paramount to his success.

On any given day, he may speak with up to a hundred people at a time. When he is not working on television shows, he scouts locations or pitches decision makers on using the many production and special-effects services of his company, Master Key.

Along with industry expertise, Dassani’s ability to speak persuasively is his most important asset. Yet, it is also among his greatest challenges because Dassani is a stutterer. Since he was a young child, his ability to speak fluidly and spontaneously was hindered by stuttering, which made it difficult even to say his name.

His condition produced involuntary interruptions in his flow of speech. Dassani experienced intermittent blocks, repetitions and prolongations of sounds and syllables, which made it difficult to carry on conversations. To fix his stutter, he tried different treatments that ranged from wearing an auditory feedback device to meeting with speech therapists. None produced lasting fluency.

While in college, he learned about the unique behavioral therapy offered at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), the same center that helped television broadcaster John Stossel overcome stuttering and catapult his career. Dassani decided to enroll and try HCRI’s stuttering therapy program.

Elan Dassani in Paris“The program was challenging and markedly different than any other stuttering treatment I experienced,” Dassani said. “The techniques and skills I learned at HCRI helped me proactively manage my stuttering and speak fluently in everyday situations.”

According to HCRI Founder and President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI stuttering therapy takes hard work, commitment and ongoing practice for optimal, life-long results. Developed by Webster and his research team – and tested with thousands who stutter, the therapy program is systematic and quality-controlled. HCRI participants work intensively with specially trained clinicians to learn new speech behaviors that replace distorted contractions and muscle movements that cause stuttered speech. The new behaviors enable people to generate fluent speech at will.

For Dassani, the ability to speak fluently makes life and what he wants to accomplish “easier and better.” He experienced firsthand the transforming impact fluency can have on someone’s life – professionally and personally.

He also acknowledges the importance of practicing HCRI fluency techniques on a regular basis. Practicing the behaviors taught during therapy helps sustain fluent speech for the long-term. When Dassani attended HCRI’s program, he was young and had a lot of ambitions that took time away from practice. Fifteen years after therapy, he noticed his speech was starting to degrade. So to get his fluency on track, he attended HCRI therapy a second time.

Now, his fluency has returned to the high levels he desires. He is committed to ongoing practice and follow-up with HCRI clinicians. He is using apps to serve as practice reminders and queues to focus on his fluency.

“There is no cure for stuttering. Yet, research demonstrates that HCRI therapy can help the majority of people who stutter acquire the ability to speak fluently.” Webster explained. “Elan Dassani is an excellent example of how fluency can open up doors of opportunity and enable people to reach their full potential in life.”

Dassani added, “I want people to know that stuttering is not insurmountable. There were times when I was frustrated and down in the dumps about my stuttering. Yet, you can get past it with the right treatment and focus,” he concluded.

HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,400 people, between the ages of 11 and 73, from across the U.S. and 50 countries. For more information about Virginia-based HCRI, visit www.stuttering.org.

Perspectives about HCRI Stuttering Therapy Participation

Stuttering therapy participant Bill R. attended the Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) 12-day intensive treatment program nearly one year ago. During a recent phone call, he answered the following questions and shared his perspectives about HCRI stuttering therapy and his experience with program participation.

Why did you choose HCRI stuttering therapy?

During my life, I tried about every type of stuttering therapy available, including using an auditory feedback device.

Yet, nothing worked for me. I continued to seek treatment options in hopes of finally finding a solution to my stuttering problem. Then, I heard about HCRI. I went to the center’s website (www.stuttering.org) to learn about HCRI’s behavioral therapy approach.

I saw the statistics about HCRI’s fluency success rates [93% achieve fluency in 12 days and 70-75% sustain fluent speech over time]. To be honest, I was skeptical of those numbers since my previous therapies didn’t produce results. HCRI’s fluency outcomes seemed too good to be true.

Yet, while I didn’t have a lot of hope that HCRI would help me, it was the one approach I hadn’t tried. I took a leap of faith and enrolled in the 12-day program.

What were your impressions on the first day of HCRI stuttering therapy?

I was nervous when I first arrived at HCRI. I was worried that the therapy wouldn’t work. Though, I saw HCRI as my last resort for getting my stuttering under control.

Describe your experience during the first half of your HCRI therapy program.

In the first week, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. The way the therapy is designed to systematically progress, you don’t see fluency results until the last few days. Initially, it was hard for me to link what the clinicians were teaching ­– and the speech exercises I practiced – to the ultimate outcome of fluent speech.

Yet, I remained committed to the therapy process. I worked hard each day and followed the guidance of HCRI’s clinicians. In the evenings, I continued to practice the speech techniques I learned so I wouldn’t slip back into my old way of speaking.

What were your impressions during the second week of therapy?

Everything came together during the second half of my HCRI program and particularly in the last two days. What I was learning and doing all made sense. Week 2 is where you reap the rewards of your hard work. Each day, my speech got better and better. It was impressive.

What are your thoughts about HCRI now that nearly a year has passed since your therapy program?

I am a fluent speaker now. The fluency statistics on HCRI’s website hold true. Yet, they directly correlate with an individual’s work ethic each day of treatment. If someone stays dedicated to the therapy process and works hard every day, fluency will happen. There’s no limit to the success and fluency you can achieve.

In addition to the actual therapy, the support system you have with HCRI makes such a difference. HCRI clinicians are always there for you – during therapy and once you return home. I check in with them every few weeks to keep my speech on track. Mentally and through speech, that support system promotes such confidence. If I run into an issue with stuttering, HCRI clinicians take the time to work with me over the phone to address it.

Also, you become close with other therapy participants and help one another during the program and afterwards. I’ve stayed in contact with a number of people from my program. We regularly talk on the phone and practice the skills we learned to maintain fluency.

What advice to you have for others considering HCRI stuttering therapy?

Most other stuttering therapies treat the symptoms, which is why results don’t last. At HCRI, you focus on the source of your stuttering and relearn how to speak to generate fluency. Before coming to HCRI, I didn’t grasp the success that could be achieved.

Now that I have fluent speech, I’ve excelled in my career. I just accepted a new position that requires me to speak in front of groups on a regular basis. I wish more people who stutter knew about HCRI and the difference it can make in your life.

So my advice is… If you are committed to fluent speech, HCRI is the place to go.

Nathan Greiner Driven by Passion for Horses and Achieving Fluency

Equine trainer and clinic facilitator Nathan Greiner views his experience with stuttering therapy the same way he views how to effectively handle, care, and train challenging horses.

Achieve Fluency with HCRI Stuttering Therapy
Top/inset: HCRI Alumnus Nathan Greiner. Bottom: Nathan (left), Buck Brannaman (far right).

To achieve successful outcomes, he believes the root cause of the problem must be addressed rather than treating the symptoms with a temporary solution.

Three years ago, Nathan left an enviable position after 15 years with Fareway Stores, where his father serves as president, for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow his passion for horses.

He went to work for world-renowned horsemanship master Buck Brannaman. Brannaman inspired the character of Tom Booker in the Nicholas Evans novel The Horse Whisperer and the movie by the same name that starred Robert Redford.

Nathan now travels the country organizing and staging Brannaman’s sought-after equine training clinics.

When he started working with Brannaman, Nathan noticed his life-long stuttering condition was becoming more pronounced. In the past, he masked his stuttered speech by controlling his environment and using word-substitution techniques.

Yet, the travel and physical demands of his new position, coupled with the need to continually communicate with up to 50 clinic participants at any given time, took their toll on his speech.

Over the years, Nathan participated in traditional stuttering therapy and met with a speech therapist one or two days a week for a period of time. Yet, the time and money he invested in treatment did not yield the fluency results he wanted.

“I was living with my stuttering and not addressing it. I got to the point that I didn’t want to grow old and regret the way I talked,” Nathan said.

Then, Nathan learned about Hollins Communication Research Institute (HCRI) and the nonprofit center’s unique approach to stuttering therapy. He saw an online video of TV broadcaster John Stossel discussing his former stuttering condition and participation in an intensive stuttering treatment program at HCRI. Stossel’s confident, commanding speech style and HCRI therapy experience resonated with Nathan. He contacted HCRI and enrolled in the therapy program.

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI stuttering therapy is markedly different than traditional speech therapies for stuttering. “Our early research demonstrated that stuttering is physically based and needs to be treated at the muscular level. As a result, we used scientific principles to create, research and refine a comprehensive behavioral therapy program that addresses the problem of stuttering exactly where and when it occurs.”

HCRI stuttering therapy is an intensive program that teaches people who stutter how to replace faulty speech muscle movements, which cause the prolongations, repetitions and blocks of stuttering, with new muscle behaviors that produce fluent speech.

Specially trained clinicians conduct HCRI’s 12-day program in a small group setting at the institute’s headquarters in Virginia. Proprietary fluency training tools and therapy technology are used during the treatment process, which make acquiring new speech skills easier and more precise for therapy participants.

“I knew the therapy would be hard work. Yet, it is harder to live with stuttering,” Nathan said. “I was passionate about making it work. And, my experience with HCRI was great from the clinicians to the technology to the support staff.”

Nathan is quick to point out that HCRI stuttering therapy is not a magic formula or quick fix. Learning to systematically rebuild speech patterns takes commitment to the therapy process. Maintaining fluency after therapy takes regular practice because old speech habits can return. That’s why he regularly stays in touch with HCRI clinicians and other therapy participants to practice his speaking skills.

“When working with horses, Buck taught me the importance of dealing with their issues from the inside, so they will be right on the outside. Stuttering therapy is the same way. You’ve got to address the core of the problem that causes the stuttering and not just treat the symptoms. HCRI does exactly that,” Nathan concluded.

For more information on HCRI therapy, please click here: HCRI Stuttering Therapy Approach

Stuttering – Fear, Anxiety and Stress when I Need to Communicate.

While it was always a struggle, I never let my stuttering stop me as I went through school and started on my career path. Yet, I always felt like I paid a price for each of my accomplishments. That price meant dealing with immense fear, anxiety and stress every time I needed to communicate.

When I started working after business school, I realized how important strong communication skills were to my future. To advance in my field, I needed to master public speaking and effortlessly give presentations, participate in meetings and talk on the phone.

Since childhood, I have participated in different types of speech therapy and even tried using a special device designed to help with stuttering. None of the approaches helped with my fluency.

Then I was told about HCRI by a senior executive from my company who took a special interest in my career development. She knew of a colleague who had tremendous success with the Hollins program and put me in touch with him. Soon thereafter, I went to Roanoke and participated in the program. It was the first time any speech therapy had worked. At HCRI, I learned techniques and exercises that enabled me to speak fluently.

Since attending the program, my fear and anxiety from stuttering have been replaced with enjoyment and anticipation. I’ve advanced to a new position with my company and now look forward to presenting in front of groups and talking with business associates.

While I didn’t recognize doors being closed before I went to HCRI, now I definitely see them opening.

Henry Kessler
Product Manager
Bristol-Myers Squibb