Purpose: Stuttering can trigger anxiety and other psychological and emotional reactions, and limit participation in society. It is possible that psychological counseling could enhance stuttering treatment outcomes; however, little is known about how clients view such counseling. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of clients' experiences with, and perceptions of, a psychological counseling service that was offered as an optional adjunct to speech therapy for stuttering.
Method: Nine individuals who stutter (13-38 years old) participated in semi-structured interviews. Six participants had taken part in psychological counseling; three participants did not do so. Interview data were analyzed using grounded theory as a guiding framework.
Results: Four thematic clusters emerged from participants' accounts: insights into personal decision-making, why others may not participate in counseling, psychological counseling as a worthwhile part of therapy, and counseling as a necessary component in a stuttering treatment program.
Conclusion: In addition to experiencing barriers and facilitators to help-seeking that are reported in related fields, participants accounts also revealed novel facilitators (i.e., a 'why not' mentality and the importance of having a pre-existing relationship with the clinician who offered the service) and barriers (i.e., viewing the service as a 'limited resource,' and, the overwhelming nature of intensive stuttering treatment programs). Findings suggest that clients value the option to access psychological counseling with trained mental health professionals to support the stuttering treatment provided by speech-language pathologists. Participants made recommendations for the integration of psychological counseling into stuttering treatment programs.
Keywords: Client perceptions; Psychological counseling; Qualitative enquiry; Stuttering.
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