The New England Fluency Therapy Program
Ms. DiGrande has been providing intensive fluency therapy since 1975. In 1982, she limited her practice to treating persons who stutter. In 2000 she developed The New England Fluency Program, an integrated intensive therapy program for children and adults who stutter.
The New England Fluency Therapy program is an integrated approach for treating children and adults who stutter. The program integrates both stuttering modification and fluency shaping strategies in order to address the complex nature of the stuttering and human behavior.
The program is 15 days in length and meets five days a week from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Programs are conducted at Emerson College in Boston and are led by Ms. DiGrande with assistance from graduate level clinicians. Groups are typically comprised of six participants, ensuring a high staff to client ratio.
Treatment is multifaceted and helps clients develop an awareness of the physical, emotional, and cognitive components of their own stuttering. Participants first identify and become desensitized to moments of stuttering and listener reactions in order to begin the process of changing strongly held beliefs about themselves and their stuttering. Our clients are then taught to physically reconstruct the motor behaviors that facilitate fluent speech. And finally, participants are given numerous opportunities, both inside and outside the clinical setting, to transfer their newly established skills. For example, clients make well over 100 phone calls, ask questions of store clerks in shopping centers, and present a final speech to family, friends, and other invited guests.
The program design encourages the use of one's own internal resources, especially in challenging speaking situations, and incorporates the use of mindfulness meditation to foster and deepen self-awareness and self-acceptance. Individuals are assisted in making alterations in their attitudes and belief systems in order to support the physical changes (fluency) that occur as a result of therapy. Educational counseling sessions for parents are scheduled weekly to assist with the home program.
Individuals completing the program make significant improvements in their overall level of fluency with approximately 80% of our clients achieving fluency levels within normal limits. Clients also report positive changes in the following areas: managing stress, confidence, reduction of avoidance behaviors, and attitudes about themselves and those around them.
Weekly post-treatment sessions are provided for approximately two months after the intensive phase of treatment to help maintain the important changes made in therapy. Consultation services and a workshop in the fall are offered, at no fee, to public school clinicians working with the children who have completed the summer intensive programs. E-mail and periodic phone check-in contact by clients and/or their parents is encouraged to maintain ongoing support.
Refresher programs are periodically offered to former intensive program clients to help re-establish fluency skills and maintain gains from previous therapy.
"I can finally speak fluently and I am no longer afraid to say what I want to. It feels like a dream to be able to speak fluently. It is a wonderful thing being able to talk whenever I want to without being embarrassed about it."