Eastern Workshop Gets Top Marks

By Diane Parris

The first ever two-week Eastern Workshop was held in Boston from June 13-24. Co-sponsored by the Stuttering Foundation and Boston University, the workshop attracted speech pathologists from six states and nine nations for the opportunity to learn from Willie Botterill and Elaine Kelman of the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children.  During the two weeks, participants focused on cognitive approaches to working with children who stutter and their families. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, and Family Communication Skills training were presented by these two master clinicians.

Case study demonstrations and interactive exercises enlivened the learning process. Routinely throughout the program, participants were asked to share what they would take away from the day’s learning. “Working with the whole person,” “focusing on communication as the ultimate goal, stuttering or not,” “listening more to parents,” “learning to accept and trust in what a difference small changes can make,” and “going deeply into perceptions, attitudes, and feelings with children who stutter in order to help them manage issues in their lives” were just a few of the comments made by participants.

The background and experience of the participants was as diverse as the nations from which they came: Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, and the United States. Participation in “jelling” exercises and sharing dorm rooms gave attendees ample opportunity to get to know each other. As a result, the classroom experience was enriched by informal discussions of therapy programs, work settings, and cultural differences over pasta dinners and strolls along the Charles River.

A network of colleagues and friends from around the globe enthusiastically left Boston, tired yet invigorated, with new outlooks on client and family centered fluency therapy.