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Recently a 21-year-old man who had stuttered horribly from an early age and had already worked with many speech pathologists, psychologists and medical doctors, called hoping that I might have a different voice training approach that could help him.

His frustration and impatience were obvious from the moment he spoke. For him, a very intelligent, ambitious, and good-looking man, speaking was a difficult chore that caused him to be deeply self-conscious. My heart went out to him as he told me that his embarrassment over his speech caused him to only talk when absolutely necessary and as a result he was lonely.  He secretly wished he could sing.

As a Voice coach, my feeling is that Voice Training or Voice Coaching is an interactive partnership with a client and in the case of serious chronic stuttering, the trust and belief that together we can break the speech pattern of stuttering, must be there.

I explained that I have been both and a professional actress and a voice and speech coach for many years, and that in Hollywood, I had taught actors how to be effective in TV interviews. And in the process, I had found that a certain number of actors had stuttering problems in their every day speech. However, to my amazement, when they were playing a role, the stuttering stopped. Therefore, I suggested that when in an interview, they create a public persona ROLE for themselves. It worked and their stuttering habit ceased during the interview.   

He immediately understood that the actors were being someone else and that the characters they were playing did not stutter so that somehow set the actor free to speak clearly.  We worked to create a public persona for him that would then set him free to speak more easily, clearly and effortlessly.

Building a public persona that spoke clearly, confidently and powerfully worked to some extent, in some speaking situations. However his skills at presenting himself in a new and different way in public were not consistent and I felt there was something else preventing him from speaking clearly.

My goal for him was that he would see himself as a confident, articulate speaker who communicates with power and persuasiveness.  I did not want his speaking skills practice in enunciation and breathing to become so frustrating that he would stop believing in himself; therefore I suggested we introduce a professional hypnotherapist into his voice training.

Hypnotherapy is not a regular part of a voice training program, however, I am convinced that in many cases, voice, pronunciation and speaking skills can be enhanced by learning and using the skills of self-hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy can be a great support in reducing stress and clearing strongly held habit patterns as over eating, drinking and smoking. If on a deep level (in his subconscious mind) he believed he couldn’t or didn’t have the right to speak clearly, then that belief could seriously limit his communication and preventing him from living a happy life.

I suggested that he take a hypnotherapy session with one of Voice Power Studios associate coaches: a trained professional hypnotherapist and a member of the International Registry of Medical Support Hynotherapists. The goal would be to use the skills of self-hypnotherapy to help him let go of his stuttering habit. He agreed it was worth a try…

My associate had explained to me that three things are necessary for hypnotherapy to be effective in changing habitual patterns.    

  1. The person is truly dedicated to maintaining the self-hypnosis skills until the habit pattern is broken.  
  2. The person is willing to give up the “pay-off” he/she receives from holding onto the addictive behavior.
  3. The person is willing to envision him/her self in a new way and to believe wholeheartedly in this vision.

My associate explained to my voice client that, since he had stated that his stuttering was not caused by a physical disability, it most likely started with an incident or event in his life that had affected his speech pattern. The incident need not have been a major traumatic event that was so frightening that he couldn’t speak.  It could have been a relatively minor incident that somehow had become associated with staying quiet or not speaking.  Most likely, an event he no longer remembered and may seem insignificant today. With hypnotherapy sessions he could unearth that incident and release the original trauma associated with his speech. This would allow him to understand the root cause of his stuttering and give him a window of opportunity to begin speaking clearly.  

Unfortunately his will power, desire and belief were not strong enough at that point in time to combine hypnotherapy with his voice training exercises.

Speak With Power and Confidence,

Warmest Wishes for a GREAT DAY!

Sandra McKnight
International Voice and Speech Coach