In providing therapy at no cost to individuals who stutter, the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute also provides a hands-on, academically-enriching, meaningful experience for the students who are lucky enough to volunteer there. As a student clinician, I've had the opportunity to see and provide therapy for individuals who stutter, including a preschool client and adult clients. An experienced speech-language pathologist supervises every session and gives me detailed feedback, enabling me to sharpen my skills as a future SLP and deliver the best, most tailored therapy to my clients. Given that our supervisors are well-balanced in clinical and research expertise, I have learned a tremendous amount about a disorder that is commonly misunderstood, and feel that I am held to a high ethical standard that prepares me well for graduate school and beyond. The experiences that I've gained -- such as conducting parent interviews, developing and implementing a treatment plan, and engaging in tele-health conferences -- have exposed me to the field of CSD in an authentic and practical way. This type of experience as an undergraduate is rare and is one I am truly grateful for.
The best part of my experience at the institute, though, is learning from the clients themselves. By interacting personally with individuals who stutter, I learn what cannot be taught on paper. For example, through weekly phone calls with my clients, I learned that stuttering affects much more than the words that come out of their mouths; it affects their thoughts, attitudes, and self-perceptions. One of my favorite moments in therapy was when my client delivered a speech in which he talked about the “power of positive thinking.” He exhibited confidence in himself and in his communication regardless if he stuttered or not, and conveyed his message with wisdom and grace. Witnessing his openness and bravery was inspiring, and I still think about his message on a daily basis.
Overall, my experience as a student clinician at the Lang Stuttering Institute opened the doors to a warm, accepting, and nurturing environment that inspires each person, clinicians and clients alike, to embrace their differences and to be their best selves while providing practical communication strategies and tools. Thank you to the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute for this extraordinary learning experience!