Young people

Top tips from the MPC

Our young people’s summer group last year say: “you’re not alone”, “it’s ok to stammer” and “feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Do you want to know more about the ideas that come up in our therapy groups? You’ll probably spot some things that you already do (or do a bit, sometimes) and you might find something new that sounds useful. Whatever you are doing, give yourself a pat on the back for having a go and check out how to get referred to the MPC if you want more help from us.

Slow down a bit, pause a bit
  • Remember that people who stammer, as a rule, are slightly less efficient at the motor movements involved in speaking?
  • See if you can ‘go down a gear’ and experiment with whether that helps.
  • You might find that it takes the pressure off your speech motor system and also gives you more time to think.
  • Watch famous people who give public speeches. They often talk quite slowly and use lots of pauses. It actually makes people listen more to what you say!
Try not to force it
  • A natural reaction is to push harder when you stammer but this increases tension.
  • Try not pushing and see what happens – does the word come out more easily?
Watch your thinking
  • Do you start worrying about what might happen if you stammer?
  • Our minds are not always our friends – sometimes they set us up to get nervous even before we go into a situation.
  • Try to imagine your thoughts as traffic going down the road. See if you can step back and watch them go by rather than get caught up in them. What difference does this make?
Go for it
  • Is it tempting to stay quiet or choose different words?
  • This might feel like a relief in the moment (it gets you off the hook) but maybe it’s not how you ultimately want to handle things.
  • Instead try saying what you want to say and speaking up when you want to, regardless of whether you stammer or not.
  • Think of this as making a ‘towards move’ – doing something that helps you move towards being the person you want to be.
Notice if you give yourself a hard time
  • Do you go over things in your mind afterwards – maybe for longer than is helpful?
  • Do you give yourself a hard time when you think back over things?
  • Try training your brain to notice the things you’re pleased with or that have gone well. Keep a “pleased to notice” diary where you write down one thing a day.
  • Researchers have found that adolescents (and adults) have greater psychological wellbeing when they practice being kind to themselves.
Take a small step out of your comfort zone
  • Give something a go that takes courage and give yourself a mental pat on the back.
  • Take small steps.
“Ships are safe in harbours but that’s not what ships are for.” (John A. Shedd)
Think big, act confident
  • Communicating is about more than speaking fluently.
  • Notice the skills that other people use when they are commuicating.
  • What do you already do well?
  • What would you like to work a bit more at? For example, if you look away when you stammer can you try looking at people a bit more? How does this help you look more confident?
Work on your mindset
  • If you buy in to the idea that you have to be fluent this puts you under more pressure.
  • Another option is to explore the idea of letting yourself stammer and being ok with it.
  • This can be liberating!
  • Find the balance that is right for you between stammering less and deciding that it’s ok to stammer.

If you are having a hard time because of your stammer talk to someone

How can I get help?

Find out how to get help here.

I want to know about therapy at the MPC

Find out about individual therapy.

Find out about group therapy.

Young people
THE MICHAEL PALIN CENTER HELPLINE

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HELPLINE

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to

Our Helpline, 020 3316 8100, is open during office hours (9am-5pm) and voicemail messages can be left when the office is closed.

“The MPC ACT course has had an immediate impact on my practice as an SLT working with young people with a stammer. All the practical activities meant that I was able to implement elements of this approach literally the next day with empowering results for my teenage clients. Its emphasis on acceptance makes it an important resource for all therapists and essential for those working with people who stammer.”

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