Avoidance reduction

Home practice invitation

Read the attached handout on a step-by-step approach to experimenting with reducing some of the things you avoid because of anxiety about stammering.

During the week become more aware of the sound/word avoidance strategies you’re using. Each day choose a few relaxed conversations to experiment with reducing some of this avoidance, slowly stepping a little closer to some of the feared words with curiosity. Remember the aim of the experiments isn’t to be fluent but to learn more about your experience. Just the willingness to experiment means you’re moving away from the avoidance-anxiety vicious circle.

From a list of situations you tend to avoid, choose the easiest one and see what it’s like to take a small step towards it. If the situation feels too daunting, break the process down into smaller steps eg if you avoid asking for things in a shop, just walking into the shop with the intention to ask could be a step forward, even if you don’t ask for something on that occasion. The very first step could just be imagining the entering the shop and as you imagine this, you can notice your response (physical sensations, thoughts and feelings).

For inspiration, listen to this short BBC radio interview with Iain Wilkie, a senior partner of EY (formerly Ernst & Young), talking about his experience of stammering in the context of the workplace: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22465298. He used to try to hide his stammer at work. He has now helped to set up the Employers Stammering Network, in a bid to support employees with a stammer not to hold back from sharing all that they have to offer in the workplace.

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