There are many factors that go into selecting an effective stuttering therapy program that is right for you. To help in your decision-making process, this infographic shows the outcomes you can expect from participating in the Hollins Communication Research Institute (HCRI) 12-day stuttering therapy program. It also illustrates why experience matters when it comes to choosing stuttering treatment.
A Career Dedicated to Helping People Who Stutter Achieve Fluency
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.
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.
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.
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