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  • Writer's pictureBailey Levis

West Coast Stuttering Center

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Read more about why I decided to remove "fluency" from the name of my practice.

We’re changing our name!

San Francisco Speech and Fluency Center will soon be West Coast Stuttering Center!

Why the Change?

I’ve been thinking about changing the name of my practice for a few years. I’ve been wanting to remove the word “fluency” from the title. Even though stuttering is considered a “fluency” disorder by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, I have wanted to shy away from sending the message that fluency, i.e. not stuttering, is the ultimate goal with speech therapy for stuttering. I take a holistic and neurodiverse approach to stuttering therapy. This means that I view stuttering as a normal variation in the human population. Stuttering does not equal broken. Stuttering is not something that needs to be fixed or that needs to be made to go away.

However, I know that many people who stutter wish that they could make it go away or that they could learn tools to not stutter. I do value this desire and I do work on helping people stutter more easily with less tension and struggle. This is very different than teaching “fluency” techniques, which places emphasis on being fluent / not stuttering. For some, the pressure to use techniques to “be fluent” has the opposite effect, resulting in more tension, struggle, and feelings of hopelessness.

Changing speech patterns is difficult. It’s much easier to do in the safety and comfort of the clinician’s office. When there is fear, anxiety and worry present it makes it even more difficult to change our speech patterns. It’s not uncommon then for stutterers to feel discouraged and like they’re not trying hard enough. Ultimately this can lead to increased negative self-beliefs, which continues to feed the cycle of tension and struggle, what some refer to as “effortful stuttering“.

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Why now?

One of the reasons I’ve been putting off this change is that it requires a lot of admin work to change the business name with the various services I use to manage my practice. However, A recent article published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, makes a case for discontinuing the use of the term “fluency” because it “(a) is not fully inclusive or representative of the stuttering experience, (b) encourages the use of misleading measurement procedures, (c) constrains the subjective experience of stuttering within a false binary categorization, and (d) perpetuates a cycle of stigma that is detrimental to people who stutter (or, as many speakers now prefer, stutterers; Constantino, 2018) and to the stuttering community as a whole.”

This was my call to action. The article was written by SLPs, some who stutter, some who don’t, who are all strong advocates for the stuttering community. They are people whom I look up to and respect in the speech language pathology field.

If we’re to make these changes, we’ll need to make some sacrifices. The small part I can play right now is to make the change to my business name.

What will change about your approach to stuttering therapy?

I have always focused on seeing each and every client as an individual, as someone with a unique experience of stuttering and a unique set of challenges and goals. I have always tended towards addressing the emotional and self-acceptance component of stuttering. I always incorporate this counseling based component in my work. The degree to which I focus on counseling approaches vs. stuttering more easily varies from individual to individual. My therapeutic approach can resemble the Iceberg Analogy of stuttering. Meaning it’s not uncommon that 90% of the work that I do is on all of the stuff under the surface. I will continue to meet you where you are at. I will continue to provide a safe space in which you can be vulnerable and supported in your risk taking. I will continue to lead from behind. I will be right there, holding the flashlight illuminating the path that you choose to walk along. Over time, you will be carrying your own flashlight. Dawn won’t be far behind and you’ll be able to put that flashlight away. What you can look out for is the incorporation of new approaches to help you achieve your goals more efficiently and effectively.

Why West Coast Stuttering Center?

I’m licensed to provide speech therapy in more than one West Coast state (as well as Virginia). I wanted the new business name to reflect a broader reach. It’s also a bit of a nod to my father who was the clinical director at Westcoast Children’s Clinic. He was one of the first clinicians there in the early 1980’s when it was known as West Coast Children’s Center. They operated out of a small, dark basement in a church in Albany, CA. He has continued to be involved in some capacity or another ever since. They have grown to a large clinic providing much needed services to hundreds of youth from historically marginalized populations throughout Alameda County. Being a part of West Coast Children’s Center / Westcoast Children’s Clinic was his community service.

West Coast Stuttering Center aims to carry forward this same desire to support anyone who stutters in the best way possible.

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