372 Section III • Treatment of Stuttering

incoherent language, can easily break the spirit of adolescents who are striving to fit in. It’s easy to place blame on the stut tering or the stutterer for these negative experiences— if they didn’t stutter, none of these negative things would happen— but we can flip the narrative and conceive that negative thoughts and feelings are evoked by the immediate and historical envi ronment, not something pathological about the stutterer (Gerlach-Houck et al., 2023). As such, I have found that a counseling approach that is trauma-informed (Goldstein, 2022) and grounded in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) (Beilby & Byrnes, 2012) helps young people under stand and navigate their inner experiences. There is an old Buddhist saying that “pain is inevitable, suf fering is optional.” In Figure 16.2, the adolescent on the left is experiencing pain when difficult experiences arise; they are noticing difficult or painful thoughts and feelings. The ado lescent on the right is suffering; they are making judgments and generating narratives about how bad things seem. This escalation can get in the way of their ability to notice things objectively and identify a productive way forward. Our task is to help adolescents learn to notice and make room for their inner experiences rather than trying to suppress them and to

discover new ways of coping that honor, rather than belit tle, what they are going through. Carl Rogers, a renowned humanistic psychologist who advocated for the power of client-centered therapy, argued that for a person to flourish, they need an environment that offers genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being treated with uncon ditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood) (Rogers, 1951). With these tenets in mind, let’s explore ways to work with adolescents’ inner stuttering experiences. Often times, our emotions about things that are hard and painful fog our ability to think rationally about it. For exam ple, if you are afraid of flying and you go on an airplane, you may be so consumed by your own anxiety and worry that you don’t realize that flying is actually one of the safest modes of transportation and may be the only feasible way for you to get to that faraway place you’re going. An adap tive way of coping with something scary is to learn about it De-Mystifying Stuttering Through Education

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Figure 16.2 Adolescents can experience pain about stuttering ( left ), which can escalate to suffering ( right ).

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