DR. JOE TESTIMONIAL-5/25/19
A PSYCHOLOGIST WHO WAS CURED
While running on a treadmill one day in the fall of 2017, I found myself listening to a podcast. As the miles clicked by, I listened to the podcast guests talk about various things. In the middle of their conversation, one of the guests launched into a story of his experience as a stutterer and overcoming the affliction. I still remember how dumbfounded I was, and how my immediate reaction was one of disbelief. He sounded perfect. This guy couldn't have stuttered, and if he did, it was probably something mild and he overcame it as a little kid.
Then he started talking about how he works with stutterers to help them overcome it, too. “Who is this guy? People don't overcome stuttering,” I thought to myself.
As an aside, it's funny to think back on my first response. Not only was I very wrong in my assumptions, I didn't yet have the perspective to understand how negative my own thinking was and how rooted my mind was in staying a stutterer forever.
I'm not that guy anymore.
Anyway, something about his story and way of speaking resonated with me, so I took down his name and decided to look him up later. His name, of course, was Jeffrey Gurian.
In one of Jeffrey's books, he makes the case that when you leave your house and turn either left or right, the rest of your entire life is going to be different depending on which way you go.
That day on the treadmill I could have easily been listening to music, or not paying attention to the podcast, or cut the run short, or a host of different alternatives.
But that day I heard Jeffrey on a podcast talking about stuttering, and it set off a chain of events that has put me on a completely different path.
It's been more than 18 months since I first spoke with Jeffrey, but let me rewind a bit...
I've stuttered for as long as I can remember.
As a child, my parents diligently took me to speech therapy multiple times every week. I learned all of the techniques the therapists taught: bouncing words, easy onset, etc. But I would leave the speech therapy room each time and be back to blocking hard on every other word.
This lasted until I was about 12 years old and went to a very intensive summer program at Central Michigan University. For six weeks, we had therapy for about eight hours a day. I loved it, and started to gain control over my speech.
When the camp ended, I was fluent. I returned to the camp the following summer, but it wasn't as useful the second time – I was already fluent. It was like having a padlock released from my speaking mechanism. It was absolutely incredible. And it lasted for about 6 years.
By the time I graduated high school, I had even made a name for myself as a local actor. There were articles in the paper about my performances, I was winning awards, and I was speaking with agents in Chicago and small time directors in New York about possible projects. But my stuttering had returned – it was mild, but I was blocking a bit again.
And although I fell out of love with acting, I went off to college to find my next adventure.
During college, my stuttering would systematically come back. Over those four years, it slowly returned, every year a little worse than the year before. Still nothing like when I was a child, but noticeable and problematic. While in school, I discovered my love for science, and behavioral science specifically.
Growing up I never had any interest in psychology, but by the end of undergrad I found myself eagerly applying to graduate schools for doctorate programs. I had found my niche. And the stuttering came along for the ride.
While in graduate school for five years, my stuttering continued to progress. I gave some halfhearted attempts to treat myself, but those attempts were ineffective. By the time I graduated with my PhD in psychology, stuttering was back as a part of my life. Still not as bad as when I was a kid, but I found myself avoiding phone calls, contorting my face to get sounds out, etc.
Over the next few years, I would attend local National Stuttering Association meetings, but didn't find them helpful. I empathized with the others who stuttered, many worse than I stuttered, but I didn't find what I was looking for, and eventually stopped attending.
And then, in 2017, I started looking for treatment options. And wouldn't you know it? I happen to randomly hear Jeffrey talking on that podcast about stuttering. The next thing I knew, I had scheduled an introduction call with him to hear what he had to say.
During our first call (and first few calls), I had a chip on my shoulder. “How do I know this guy really stuttered?” Please understand, at this point, I didn't know anyone who had overcome stuttering completely, so I was hugely skeptical. As a comic, dentist, spiritual person, and person in the entertainment industry, we also had very little in common.
I was, and am, a hard-edged behavioral scientist. This guy was talking about the subconscious mind, spiritual energy, heart wounds, and other things that seemed like woowoo to me (you remember that chip on my shoulder I mentioned earlier?) But as I asked him questions, and we dove into these concepts, I found that I could reinterpret all of this into my own lexicon, and it started to make sense.
It became clear why what he was saying resonated with me – it was sound and rational. Jeffrey had, on his own, found the cure.
There was no magic cure, it's all hard work and self development. Soon, I was using Jeffrey's lexicon, and his ideas and perspectives seemed to become even more clear to me.
This would launch me on the last 18 month journey of convincing myself that I no longer need to stutter, or as Jeffrey likes to say, that it's not a valid response anymore.
But what I didn't understand until about a year into working with Jeffrey, is that stopping stuttering for good is really about changing myself at a deep level.
It's about developing into a better version of myself who doesn't need to stutter anymore.
It's not a hack, or a trick; it's literally developing a positive mindset through purposeful practice of affirmations, things like reading out loud, and evaluating each stuttering incident to unpack why I may have (subconsciously) decided to stutter at that moment.
It's a lot of work. But I still remember the first time I said a particular word at work that I hadn't said in years. It came out smoothly without even thinking about it. I remember colleagues telling me that I just seemed happier. And these sort of things are just the tip of iceberg. What I've realized is that the version of myself who doesn't stutter is a really great guy.
As I've developed my speech, I've made other positive changes. I ended a long-term relationship that had run its course. I bought my first house. I got back into endurance events and ran my first marathon in more than 10 years. My confidence is increasing while my ego is decreasing. The effects are profound.
And the list of positive outcomes from the hard work goes on and on. And it all relates to speech.
I'm 95% fluent today, and only have a big noticeable block maybe once every two weeks. But I don't avoid situations anymore, I don't get hung up on speech anxiety, and I know that 100% fluency is in my future. And 100% fluency won't be about tricks or avoiding words or anything of the sort: it's that I can tell that I'm very close to being a person who no longer needs to stutter.
Sure, I wish I was writing this after stopping stuttering completely, but I can't rush my own mind to stopping, and perhaps someone will read this and it will influence them to seek support from someone who has actually overcome the affliction.
It can be done. I'm almost there.
And my entire life has improved significantly as a result of the hard work and the support of Jeffrey.
Dr. Joe, 2019
After the first introductory session, other sessions are available in groups of six as a form of savings. Inquire with Dr. Gurian.
1. Question: How long does it take to get better?
Answer - If any one were to tell you that they would be taking advantage of you. It depends on how quickly it takes you to convince your sub-conscious mind that you no longer have any need to stutter.
2. Question - Do I have to do some work every day?
Answer - The more work you're willing to do, the faster you will see a change. You can never do too much work.
3. Question : What do the affirmations do?
Answer - Affirmations are positive statements that when repeated over and over again imprint themselves into your consciousness and help you to reprogram the way you think.
4. Question : How long is each session?
Answer- Each session is an hour except for the first one in which you go over a detailed questionnaire, besides learning techniques, so the first session is anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours.
5. Question: Are weekly sessions necessary?
Answer: Weekly sessions seem to be the most effective. Occasionally people will request more than one session a week.
6. Question : If you attain fluency, how long does it last?
Answer - The treatment is not a trick. We are looking for a permanent change, which is why it takes time. You can't "trick" your subconscious mind with weird breathing techniques or strange patterns of speaking, or else the stuttering will come back. The goal is for you to speak like everyone else who does not stutter.