This article describes the treatment considerations when providing eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to treat clients who stutter. Since stuttering is often developed in childhood and persists into adulthood, it has long-term impacts on the educational, social, psychological, and professional development of those who stutter. While stuttering can present with physiological impairments not amendable to psychological interventions, EMDR therapy may effectively decrease the psychological stressors (such as social anxiety and shame) that can intensify stuttering. The authors present an extensive literature review on the traumatic experiences and adverse effects of stuttering. They also discuss essential treatment guidelines when using EMDR to work with people who stutter (PWS), including processing developmental trauma when stuttering, experiences of being bullied because of stuttering, shame and internalized negative self-statements, distrust of one’s body due to inability to control one’s speaking, and the social anxiety and avoidance in dealing with triggering situations. The clinical instructions are illustrated with a case example of a 40-year-old college professor who experienced anxiety and shame related to persistent developmental stuttering, and who sought treatment due to difficulties speaking in front of his classes. After completing 20 sessions of EMDR therapy, the client reported decreased social anxiety and shame and was able to teach courses comfortably. Further research considerations using EMDR treatment with PWS are recommended.
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Huang, H.-H., & Pfuetze, M. (2021). Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 15(1), 60–72. https://doi.org/10.1891/EMDR-D-20-00035
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research