Theory and therapy in stuttering: a complex relationship

J Fluency Disord. 2012 Dec;37(4):225-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


There are many treatments currently available for stuttering, for both children and adults. These range from direct interventions intended to reduce the severity and/or frequency of the speech behaviors of stuttering, to those intended to alleviate the anxiety and other mental health issues that can accompany the disorder. However, as there are little supporting data for many of these treatments, there is little consensus about which to use. Another way to evaluate stuttering treatments is to explore the extent to which they address the cause of the disorder. However, the cause of stuttering is not yet known. In this theoretical paper, a 3-factor causal model is presented, to which the mechanisms thought to be driving different treatments are then aligned. The model is innovative, in that it attempts to explain moments of stuttering. It is argued that all causal factors must be operating at each moment of stuttering. The model is intended as a new way of looking at cause, and how treatments may address cause. It is hoped this will stimulate discussion and lead to further lines of inquiry.

Educational objectives: The reader will be able to: (a) describe the P&A 3-factor causal model of moments of stuttering; (b) state how indirect direct stuttering treatments relate to cause, according to the P&A model; (c) describe how direct stuttering treatments relate to cause, according to the P&A model; (d) state the purpose of cognitive behavior therapy; and (e) describe at least one suggestion for further research arising from the P&A model.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Speech Therapy
  • Stuttering / etiology
  • Stuttering / therapy*