Mindfulness is something that fascinates me on a personal level. Although, I only recently started thinking about using mindfulness in speech therapy. There really aren’t many articles out there about using mindfulness in speech therapy. However, this article from The Journal of Fluency Disorders is an interesting read. It describes applications of mindfulness to stuttering treatment. It indicates suspected mechanisms of change brought on by mindfulness. Some of these were: weakening the fear response, improved emotional regulation, changes in perceptions of thought and increased sensory-perceptual processing, attentional control, and acceptance. After reading this article, I started thinking about other ways mindfulness could be used in speech therapy.
So, how can we use mindfulness in speech therapy?
Mindfulness can be defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgementally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p.4). When we are in the present moment, we are in touch with our senses. By connecting to what we hear, see, feel, and smell, we are confronted with an abundance of descriptive vocabulary words. Therefore, using mindfulness in this way can be really great for building vocabulary. To put this idea to use in speech therapy, I created a mindfulness basket (pictured below). In the basket, I added some items that would require the use of a variety of descriptive words. Then, my clients and I worked to describe the items together. For example, a client would chose a quarter from the basket, then we would talk about how it looked (round), how it felt (bumpy), its temperature (cold), etc.
This could be a great way to work with young stutterers on concepts used for creating “easier and smoother” speech. For example, you could include items that are hard and soft. Then, use these to increase awareness of those concepts in relation to using the articulators in a tense and lax manner. You could also use items that are smooth and bumpy. With these you could help increase understanding of what many of us refer to as smooth and bumpy speech. If you like this idea, I’ve created a free file with ideas and visuals that you can easily use in your speech therapy sessions. If you’d like a copy of the handout, just sign up for email updates to get the pdf file delivered straight to your inbox.
Do you incorporate mindfulness into your speech therapy sessions? I’d love to hear about your experiences!