Thursday, February 12, 2009

How good is Hollins?

I have said that the claims on their website are misleading: see the end paragraph of this post. They claim that 98% of HCRI program graduates say they would recommend this advanced stuttering therapy to others who stutter. 93% of clients attain normal levels of speech fluency by the end of our 12-day day program. And I said that these numbers are completely irrelevant, because you need to look at long-term data and record them secretly.

Adrian writes convincingly in support of my suspicion (apart from misspelling its as it's! :-) :
As a Hollins graduate, I'll simplify this argument. ... in my experience these techniques simply don't work very well. I attended the original three-week session and I kept up with all but two of my original group of ten after the course. I believe all but one of this group was considered fluent after the end of the course, yet all were stuttering at pre-course levels speaking with me on the phone a few weeks after we left the safety of the clinic. For me personally I was 100% fluent in the clinic following therapy, but I was still stuttering severely across the street at Hardee's ordering a cheeseburger.
Tom is correct to question these misleading success rates. It is very easy to produce fluent speech and have positive viewpoints immediately following therapy. It is another to have continued fluency in all situations after being away from the clinic for a length of time. Hollins has used these misleading statistics as the cornerstone of it's marketing and it's economic success for decades.
Adrian

Adrian, do you think you can provide more details of the people? Maybe we can publish something on my blog like: comments from x out of y people of Adrian's group on their fluency? There should be balance of reporting on Hollins / HRCI.

44 comments:

James said...

Not very good, and the cost is expensive.

Hollins is famous because of Annie Glenn....

Any Science research or independent publications

Ora said...

Tom - Of course, we have to be careful of selection bias. People's success or failure affects their willingness to report. Also, it affects their availability. People who are disappointed by the long-term effects are less likely to be available to follow-up.

By analogy, among our university classmates, the ones who are easy to find are those who have become doctors or lawyers or CEOs or professors. The ones that are hard to find are those that have not managed a successful career and thus are more likely to withdraw from being in contact with more their successful classmates.

Similarly, in a Hollins class, the people who continue to get some benefit or at least remain hopeful are the ones who are likely to keep in touch, while those who did not have a positive experience are likely to drift away and therefore be unavailable to an informal survey.

I'm sure this effect has been well studied. I don't know the results, but I suspect that there's a systematic bias toward positive or negative reporting when people self-select for a survey.

Having said that, I don't mean to suggest that the results are worthless. They just can't be pushed too far.

ig88sir said...

Hollins is also famous for John Stossel from 20/20 fame. He is a mild stutterer and I guess easy onsets help him. Or was he paid off?

I went roughly 10 years ago and did keep in touch with a few from my group. They all still did struggle and could not handle using the technique in real life. Sounds like capacity and demands here. I, as a 33 year old PWS (who started at age 12), find the Mcguire Costal breathing technique much better. It is easier and sounds more natural albeit slow with long pauses. I find that the pauses mask my spasmodic articulator behavior so the output is much more relaxed. I just have a hard time resisting time pressure! I could probably do a good presentation with the technique but can't have a one to one conversation due to losing content via time constraints (or my listener getting impatient!)

Adrian said...

Hollins is a master of marketing. They masterfully throw percentages out that are technically true, but in reality are meaningless. The ipod gimmick is another of their clever marketing ploys. And of course 98% percent would recommend the program after three weeks. These people have just devoted three weeks and several thousands of dollars to this course and don't want to admit to themselves that they have most likely failed. It took me several years and two refreshers for me to admit to myself that I had been swindled. Also, for many, the false fluency in the clinic environment may be the first fluency they have ever experienced. For some this is in itself is a reason to stay positive.

I don’t understand how Hollins has been allowed to enjoy a respectable existence. Ronald Webster is still held in high esteem by many, while people like Martin Schwartz has been vilified. Schwartz was forced out of ASHA, yet Hollins clinicians (including its clinical supervisor) have, to my knowledge, been left alone by ASHA.

Greg said...

I think part of the issue here may be the concept of cognitive dissonance. After the big financial, time, and emotional investment--people may not be all too excited to publicly admit their true personal experiences.

I've yet to meet a single person that said, "Hollins' changed my life!" ... yet I've met many with the feelings expressed here on this board.

Just a thought...

Greg
http://stuttering.me

Anonymous said...

Regarding "Perhaps the single biggest wrong-turn in the history of speech pathology."

Interesting comment. Pretty easy to go after dead people...

Not sure Van or Dean Williams would see it quite your way, but WTF...

Arrogance reveals fools and wannabes... From all of us who mistakenly took the wrong turn -Thanks for showing us!

//www.iowa.edu/~cyberlaw/wj/wjbib.html

//www.iowa.edu/~cyberlaw/wj/wjcv.html

//www.iowa.edu/~cyberlaw/wj/wjwhowho.html

Anonymous said...

Let’s look at the numbers from HCRI website.

(I have put my comments, personal opinions, and percentages under each bullet item, I "graduated" from Hollins back in 2000 or so)
•98% of HCRI program graduates say they would recommend this advanced stuttering therapy to others who stutter.
I agree with this percentage. After spending $ 5,000 and three weeks working very hard, day and night to perfect the use of targets and becoming 100% fluent for the first time in your life. You better believe you would recommend this therapy to everyone that stuttered.
•93% of clients attain normal levels of speech fluency by the end of our 12-day program.
I agree with this percentage. I guess they shortened the three week program to 12 days. I can say first hand from my treatment at HCRI that we all obtained “normal” levels of speech fluency by the end of our course.
•For many HCRI graduates, stuttering therapy is a one-time experience; fluent speech has replaced stuttering and additional treatment is not necessary.
This line is up for interpretation. How many is many? I do know many people out there that went back a few times. I went back for an additional refresher. I needed to spend that additional week, $ 2,000 more, and 2 years of my life blaming myself for not working hard enough. I always thought 1 + 1 = 2. It was that additional year I needed under my belt to really convince myself that stuttering was not my fault and that Fluency was not the only piece to my puzzle. How many times do you let a “Friend” screw you over before ending the friendship? HCRI did not directly screw me over they just provided me with a one Tool. It was my bad for not knowing that there was more to it than fluency.
•Follow-up studies show that 70% to 75% retain fluent speech when evaluated one and two years post therapy.
This line is up for interpretation. These percentages can’t be acquired. They can’t be acquired by the iphone either. Stuttering is too transient and internal to ever know how much fluency is actually being retained. Now I would like to throw some numbers out there too. These are my numbers from talking with graduates of HCRI, from listening to the heartfelt stories of losing the short lived heady fluency that is generated from intensive programs.
10% of the people immediately lose fluency after they return to their natural environment and gain no lasting fluency.
50% of the people lose most fluency after 1 month.
20% of the people lose most fluency after 3 months.
10% of the people keep most of their fluency for a year or 2 by working 1 to 2 hours a day on targets and going to refresher courses. Likely missing the point of this one time therapy treatment and being driven by the chase for the fluency God.
8% of the people fall somewhere between the above percentages.
1.5% of the people likely retain fluent speech by using the targets in the prescribed manner, all of the time.
0.5% of the people may permanently retain fluency in the sense that people may consider a cure. Possibly, the physical use of the targets brings the rest of the puzzle into alignment and the person’s physiology takes over plowing new speech pathways in the brain which are used from then on.

John Books said...

I think that Hollins thinks that they can advertise this because, 1.we don't know or are not told the selection process used in deciding on who to contact after they leave the clinic and 2. they feel that they can do this because, after all, a very high percentage of people (95% +) ARE fluent after the 3 an now 2 week program and 3. the people who can complain are, well, too embarassed to do that.....

All THAT HOLLINS HAD TO DO IS EXPLAIN THE PROCESS USED IN THE 75 % stat and that would do it....

Rebecca said...

I would honestly be one that would say "Hollins changed my life." I attended the program as a SEVERE stutterer 3 years ago, and I haven't stuttered since.
They don't claim that their program is a cure, they just give you the tools to overcome. If you don't practice the targets taught after the program, stuttering will return. If you don't put your heart into it it doesn't work as well, as one boy in my session proved.

John Books said...

Rebecca said that she was a severe stutterer and she took the program and hasn't stuttered since. This is a complete LIE and someone put her up to it. If she had said that her speech has improved a lot that would be believable but every stutterer knows that to say "they have not stuttered since" is not true and, well ,impossible. And if it is true, she keeps what she says to a minimum, is very controlling in how she answers people and does not have a lot of social interactions and she is still switching words and avoiding situtations and words and other things. I took the program and was very fluent until I started to use words I was avoiding and put myself into situations I was avoiding.

middlevillager said...

Tom,

I am starting to have serious conerns about the Hollins program.

I mean I already have had personal concerns about the Hollins progam and Dr. Webter and am considering legal avenues to complaintbut just take his postings at U Tube.

I have on many time posted respectable and professional and well thought out comments to the Hollins videos at U Tube. None of them have ever been printed and they are always reviewed first before considering that they be printed underneath the U TUBE Hollins videos.

Dr. Webster and his staff make every attempt to monitor criticisms of their therapy and block every one they deem undesirable which is ALL OF MINE.

Just go to U TUBE and you will see NO COMMENTS PRINTED THERE FOR ANY HOLLINS POSTING SO EVERYONE ELSE IS HAVING PROBLEMS.

What can you do about this and what do you think about this?

Anonymous said...

I've never been to Hollins but am considering applying.

I just wanted to point out to middlevillager, who is considering "legal avenues" (I presume he means venues), that not having his comments posted on Youtube is not enough basis for a lawsuit, sorry. I don't mean to be mean :) I just found your post a little amusing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rebecca. Hollins is a life changer, but only if you use the techniques taught all the time. It takes alot of effort. I attended the three week program when I was about 22, and I am 52 now. I also took a refresher course about 5 years ago. If I religiously apply the Hollins program techniques,I stutter, but not that much. My problem is that when my stuttering is under control, I stop working on my speech, and them my speech problems over time return. This is my fault, not the Hollins program.

Anonymous said...

Could you be more specific about how bad your stuttering gets,anonymous, when you stop using the Hollins targets? Why do you stop using the Hollins Targets, that would be interesting?????

Anonymous said...

HCRI offers a very valuable experience for people who stutter and probably offers the best program around which shows you in great detail why you stutter and gives you the tools to have control over your speech. The only problem with HCRI program is that if you don't completely understand the speech targets and how they work together to produce fluent speech during the initial 3 week program then you will probably never have the chance again to learn this unless you are wealthy, independent and can afford to not have to work and can attend HCRI refreshers and HCRI consultations at your leisure to re-learn what you have not understood which is not true for most people who have to take off from work or don't have enough fluent speech and self confidence to ask the right questions about what they did not understand. Standard HCRI refreshers and reunions are not adequate to handle questions of this type. Also the behavior modification format of the program is excellent for re-learning how to speak but also takes away from enabling you to be able to understand the lessons of the program due to its conditioning format of practicing many hours each day at the Institute during the 3 week program in isolation. Also it is likely that due to several changes and clarifications of speech targets over the years many people who took the earlier speech program were not exposed to the final iteration of the speech program and were cheated out of getting Dr. Webster"s full research and final program and Dr. Webster did not contact these people who took his PFSP program at PFSP Centers all over the country, Centers which he closed down leaving only Hollins because they were not providing the program correctly. In summary, people were used in earlier years to develop the final program and did not know this and were not told of changes to the program and why these Centers were closed. So although Dr. Webster has arrived at a final speech program there has been some dishonesty on his part in earlier years and it reflects on him now and his integrity I am sorry to say. However even though there is now finally a finalized speech program the problems I have outlined are still valid and true. The new technology introduced in the program does not address the problems I have outlined to a sufficient degree.

Anonymous said...

I posted reviews of HCRI at the Better Business Bureau website that monitors the Hollins Communications Institute. BBB printed them up and the website indicated that Hollins would receive copies of my comments. Well, after they were on display for several days THEY WERE REMOVED. It is my opinion that Hollins arranged to have them removed even though BBB had me sign a form indicating that I had posted comments which were true, WHICH THEY WERE, and that BBB will not accept responsibilities for the comments which I did not expect them to and signed their form accordingly. Here are the two comments for others to read and benefit from:

Review 1: " HCRI offers a very valuable experience for people who stutter and probably offers the best program around which shows you in great detail why you stutter and gives you the tools to have control over your speech. The only problem with HCRI program is that if you don't completely understand the speech targets and how they work together to produce fluent speech during the initial 3 week program then you will probably never have the chance again to learn this unless you are wealthy, independent and can afford to not have to work and can attend HCRI consultations at your leisure to re-learn what you have not understood which is not true for most people who have to take off from work or don't have enough fluent speech and self confidence to ask the right questions about what they did not understand. Standard HCRI refreshers and reunions, however, are not adequate to handle questions of this type. Also the behavior modification format of the program is excellent for re-learning how to speak but also takes away from enabling you to be able to understand the lessons of the program due to its conditioning format of practicing many hours each day at the Institute during the 2 week program in isolation. Also it is likely that due to several changes and clarifications of speech targets over the years many people who took the earlier speech program were not exposed to the final iteration of the speech program and did not get Dr. Webster"s full research and final program and Dr. Webster did not contact these people who took his earlier PFSP program at PFSP Centers all over the country, Centers which he closed down leaving only Hollins. In summary, people were used in earlier years to develop the final program and did not know it by providing Dr. Webster with feedback on speech target usage. So although Dr. Webster has arrived at a final speech program there has been some dishonesty on his part in earlier years and it reflects on him now and his integrity I am sorry to say. However even though there is now a final speech program the problems I have outlined are still valid and true. The new technology introduced in the program does not address the problems I have outlined to a sufficient degree. "

Anonymous said...

This is the second review of HCRI which BBB had printed and was on display for several days and then was removed:

Review #2: "Clarification on 1st review: Changes to one major speech target were introduced in approximately 1980. These changes were not adequately explained by PFSP clinicians in Hollins managed PFSP centers in various parts of the country. Even by 1984 these new targets were still not being adequately explained to clients, even at Hollins, according to someone who took PFSP at Hollins in 1984. Eventually in the late 1980"s these PFSP centers were closed down by Hollins because Hollins discovered that his program was not being delivered properly (in addition to the new target information not being adequately explained anyway which was already going on earlier). People who took the PFSP program prior to 1980 received an earlier version of the PFSP program. Also over the years the manuals for the PFSP program were revised to clarify instructions on speech targets. People who took the program earlier used manuals that were confusing in their descriptions of speech targets. People who took the program in PFSP clinics other than Hollins either received an earlier version of the program or received later a wrong version of the program- these clinics were closed only leaving Hollins. Hollins did not bother to tell these earlier clients that they may have an older version of the program or that they had received a wrong version of the program. If they were told they could have gone to Hollins to get the correct new version or if they were told Hollins should have provided this new correct info for free to all clients. By not telling people about these changes/incorrectly provided program, these clients walked around trying to get a PFSP program to work when it could not work and not even know it! As far as I know my experience is the same as others: we did not sign any paper agreeing to being part of an experiment. If you did sign such a document, fine, but how would you know of changes to the PFSP program. In essence, you got the idea that the PFSP program does not work or that iIT IS YOUR FAULT THAT IT DOES NOT WORK since Hollins advertises 90% ++ success rate, the same success rate in the 1980s and now!!!! Hollins gives very specific instructions on how to speak, very little detailed speech targets and percentages for how often they are done during the day. Early clients were probably being used as part of an experiment and did not even know it. Hollins says stutterers make "speech sounds incorrectly". FIne but don't change the targets, advertise 90%++ success rates and not tell earlier clients about the changes. Most people cannot decide on their own to go down to Hollins at great expense TO SEE if something changed. Older PFSP clients were not told about refreshers and reunions in the mail or by phone, only Hollins original clients. No one was told about PFSP center closings or why they were closed, Dr. Webster says that he wants "a person to have the best possible one time experiences". That is what he says now.

Anonymous said...

Correction: BBB indicated that they had accidently removed my comments and they are back on. DR WEBSTER ANSWERED MY COMMENTS AND I WROTE BACK TO HIM.

Anonymous said...

Comment from the Business 1st half only due to space restrictions, see the other half that follows below this:
" I first want to make the point that we do not have a person named LeRoy Jones in our client roster. There seems to be confusion on the part of this person about where and when he attended stuttering therapy. He may or may not have have participated in a version of my Precision Fluency Shaping Program that was offered by a clinician or clinicians at a location or locations other than here in Roanoke, Virginia. The response from L. Jones is factually incorrect, the inferences are faulty and the conclusions are erroneous. HCRI provides upfront data regarding the effectiveness of our stuttering therapy program: 93% of cases have attained normal levels of fluency by the end of the program. Our long-term follow-up data show that between 70 and 75 % of the cases retain normal levels of fluency at one and two year intervals after therapy. We also report that 98% of our clients would recommend this program to others. We do not represent our program to be anything other than what it is, a strongly effective treatment for most people who stutter. HCRI maintains a scholarship program in order to assist persons attend our therapy program who might not otherwise be able to afford it. We strive to assist as many people as possible with this program. During the course of the program clients work closely with highly experienced clinicians for approximately 90 to 100 hours. Every effort is made to assure that each client understands what is taking place at each step of the program. Extra training is provided in the event additional instruction is indicated. Few people fail to learn the basic fluency skills taught in our program; however, there are up to approximately 7% who do not learn these skills well. We have not yet identified any pretherapy measures that predict with acceptable reliability, which people will succeed and which ones will not. This remains an empirical question to this day. This critic has apparently been out of touch with his therapy program for a significant number of years. He misses the point that my therapy program is 12-days in duration and not three weeks. Years ago, the program was 19-days in duration. However, the 12-day version was implemented in 2002. The following statement made by the critic is not factually correct. “Also the behavior modification format of the program is excellent for relearning how to speak but also takes away from enabling you to be able to understand the lessons of the program due to its conditioning format of practicing many hours each day at the Institute during the 3 week program in isolation.” ....continued below....

Anonymous said...

....answer from Hollins continued: "All indications are that excellent understanding of program skill training is achieved as it is clearly manifested in the long-term program results. The behavior modification procedures are indeed directly responsible for our strong results. Few of our clients fail to grasp the basic points of the therapy process, given the step-by-step, progressive building block approach built into our therapy. The critic is in error by stating that I “closed down PFSP centers.” I did train more than 100 clinicians, some of whom used my program. Clinicians made independent decisions to modify or not modify the program and to continue or discontinue these programs without my influence. Neither HCRI nor I had any role in their choices. I did not “close down” any centers at any time. The critic misses the point about my program developments over the years. I still have not reached the final program. As a matter of declared practice, my program is under continuous evaluation. From time to time, based on these evaluations, I introduce improvements on details of program administration, program software and program electronic speech measurement circuits. In fact, since the PFSP (my old therapy, the Precision Fluency Shaping Program), there have been two major updates (and numerous rolling changes) to my treatment program for stuttering. In 1984 I ended the PFSP and I introduced the Hollins Fluency System, based heavily upon computer instructional techniques and improved speech measurement tools we developed. Then, in 2010, I produced the Hollins Fluency System II, based upon internet access technologies, improved fluency skill definitions, improved instructional sequences and significantly improved electronic measurement of acoustic speech signal. The critic’s notion that people who previously went through my therapy program were cheated out of later developments is no more correct than to say that if you bought a Ford in 1980, you were then cheated out of subsequent innovations that appeared in later model Fords. Or, if your dentist repaired your tooth in 1980 with the materials and technologies available then, you were cheated out of new developments that later came along with improved materials and technologies. Or, if you bought a personal computer in 1990, you were then cheated out of the new iPad 2 that was released in 2010. The critic clearly holds an opinion; however, the factual inaccuracies, the flawed inferences and the invalid conclusions imply to me that the critic lacks proper and current knowledge of his subject matter. In addition, I repeat that his name does not appear in our client database and his comments do not appear to be founded in experiences he had here at the Hollins Communications Research Institute."

Ian Trimble said...

I wonder how this compares to the PFSP therapy. I for one went to the PFSP program twice and was fluent in the clinical setting, but of course the therapy didn't last.

Anonymous said...

I do not stutter, but I am interested in these programs and the ethics of advertising promising statistics like HCRI does.

There are a LOT of things to talk about here, but for now I'd like to isolate the idea that if the techniques are not working for you after you leave the program, that means you are "not working hard enough."

This is a wonderful (terrible) out that many therapies for all types of conditions implicitly or explicitly use. If the technique is not working, the client/patient is not trying hard enough.

Yeah, sometimes this is true. Of course. But is there no responsibility on the part of the treatment designers (representatives, SELLERS) to design a program where the amount of work -- continual follow-up work in this case -- is reasonable, or even possible?

If, and it sounds to me like this is a big if, 1 to 2 hours of practice a day will equal continued fluency, the next question is is it reasonable (NOT easy, but reasonable) to design a program that requires such a huge and never-ending commitment?

Well, from what I've read here and other places, almost no one is able to keep up with the daily practice. This tells me that it may be an unreasonable commitment. We are not talking about an unmotivated population. Most people who stutter would do almost anything not to. They've already spent thousands, often with great hardship.

This is conjecture, yes, but two things seem likely to me. It is NOT about people not working hard enough. At best it's about requiring and unreasonable amount of work. At worst I suspect that even the most disciplined (or motivated) among us, those who do actually practice 1 to 2 hours a day, are not able to achieve the level of fluency we hear in people at the end of the program, still in the clinic setting. Likely nothing close to it.

Believing the latter as I do, leads me to suspect that the problem has never been primarily that people are not "working hard enough," but rather that they've done enough practice, combined with experience in the real world, to know that no amount of daily practice is likely to give them the fluency that they were able to achieve in the artificial environment of the program.

I do not know the background on the evolution of HCRI. I am not prepared to call it an outright scam. There are grey areas here and many times treatment programs for all sorts of thing, programs that actually have very low rates of lasting success, have not arisen out of a plan to scam vulnerable people (all of us are vulnerable!), but rather from complex combinations of motives and denial.

However, there is no excuse for HCRI's advertised statistics. They are misleading and intentionally so. I am not a legal expert on this. Morally, however, it is indefensible. It's obscene.

Tim Steadman said...

If you really want to know about the successfulness of the Hollins Program, come to one of the reunions they have almost every year in Hollins, VA. They are usually during the second weekend of July. I've been to 4 reunions. Almost everyone at the reunion has low to mild stuttering with a few people still severely stuttering. I myself still stutter enough to say I'm not happy with my progress. I've been through the program and one refresher. If you talk to most of the people at the reunion, most will say they don't practice enough or have stopped practicing all together. I think the long term stats (which are the most important) Hollins posts are correct for those people who do exactly what the center tells you to do...especially after the therapy program....which is call your clinician for help if you are having difficulty, practice daily, call for help, practice daily. The problem is, most people will not do this when they run into trouble. If you are not a tenacious person wanting to do everything you can do to stop stuttering, then the Hollins program probably will not be a long lasting success. You will definitely learn great tools that will help reduce your stuttering, but you will still stutter in the long run.

Maybe there should be a disclaimer on HCRI's website that states something like - this is not an easy fix. If you want to attain fluency, you have to work tirelessly during and especially after the program - religiously for months and years to attain sustained fluency.

People might work hard enough, but most won't sustain the work ethic long enough for this program to be successful. I being one of those people.

It is very much like people who loose a lot of weight quickly through various surgeries or weight loss programs. One life event after another creeps into your life and starts to derail your progress and the pounds start creeping back and eventually you find yourself back where you were.

I think the Hollins program is good. It does work for most people initially (it worked for everyone in my group except for 1 participant). Due to human nature, I believe it doesn't live up to its advertised long term stats (the 70-75% number...which by the way, if it was 73%, why not just say 73% or 72% etc?) I'd like to get an auditor to cold call past participants and simply ask them for their full name and to recite the city they live and phone number. I'd bet a sizable donation to Hollins that the stats they advertise on their website will not live up to this audit. I can clearly see and hear this when attending reunions and talking to other past participants. If they don't post these great stats, business probably wouldn't be very good, therefore closing the center and the great research they are conducting. What I can say is most past participants I've talked with are satisfied with the tools they have learned and the tools have helped them in some positive way.

Would I do it again, yes. For the month or so after therapy when I was completely and thoughtlessly fluent was one of the best feelings in my life. It is a good high. I did work hard afterwards but life eventually got in the way, disfluency crept in, I got pissed off, and there you go. I didn't reach out for help like I should have. I am not as disfluent as I was and I think that is worth something.

Anonymous said...

Why can't an independent agency call graduates of hcri to determine long term results?

Tom Weidig said...

There are several obstacles:

1) it costs money.

2) confidentiality issues.

3) impossible to reach them all.

4) even if you reach them, how do you measure success?

5) some might have done it 5-10 years ago, and might have done anything things in the mean time, so how do you know whether fluency is the cause of something 5-10 years ago?

Tim Steadman said...

Regarding my comment from before, my mindset has changed. I read a great book called Redefining Stuttering by John C Harrison. There is an article in it that one man wrote about HCRI...if you've been to HCRI, you know it is about HCRI. Article link below. This article struck home with me. Good read if you are considering HCRI as your stuttering therapy choice. Maybe if HCRI focuses more on the whole person - his/her beliefs, perceptions, emotions as well as the mechanical side of things, they might have a chance in the future. Programs like the Mcguire program deal with the whole person and are really gaining ground.

http://stuttering-specialist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/pdf/Ingram-story.pdf

Anonymous said...

My son did Hollins 1 1/2 years ago and I think the net effect was negative. The tools were hard to employ outside of a clinical setting AND their philosophy that you must not accept your stutter made him feel worse about it. His teacher was not exactly warm and fuzzy and it made it harder for him to reach out for assistance after he left though he would practice on his own. I think they had an obligation to reach out to him and encourage him to use the resources. They disagreed saying the ball was completely in his court. Not unreasonable but, really, was it so hard for them to encourage him a bit? We spent a lot of money. Remember there are travel and hotel costs to consider in addition to the cost of the program. In the end, he feels worse about his speech than ever. I am looking into McGuire but fear another failure will make things worse. At least their primary goal is acceptance and improvement in overall speaking skills, not simply fluency. Any thoughts?

Ora said...

Consider American Institute for Stuttering in New York. They have a very different orientation and approach than Hollins. They have substantially evolved away from a program that focuses on speech techniques, to a more holistic program that focuses on anxiety and avoidance reduction. They offer a three-week intensive program, and also individual therapy, including via Skype.

Anonymous said...

I took Ronald Webster"s program 35 years and have kept up with the changes to his program that included changes to the speech targets that are taught in his program. I have a lot of experience with applying his targets in many different situations and am very well read in psychology and have participated in many therapies of different varieties to help me use the speech targets. My experience has taught me that the people who do well with the Hollins program are those who work hard, are trying to apply the targets consistently and very importantly HAD A LOW DISFLUENCY RATE as measured by Hollins at the beginning of the program. I have researched this and discovered that the people that Hollins puts forward in their ADVERTISING as John Stossel and others had a low disfluency rate. What does this mean? It means that they have an easier time understanding the targets and and easier time applying them. One person who Hollins uses in their advertisement told me that he does not even use all the targets Hollins taught him and he is fluent!! The reason: HE IS MORE RELAXED AND THERE IS LESS TENSION WORKING AGAINST HIM IN USING THE TARGETS. My question to you is: what was your son's disfluency rate as measured by Hollins at the start of the program?? Hollins can tell you this. I will bet it was high. Find out and let us all know here if you want to. This conclusion of mine is of course based on the assumption that your son was able to learn the speech targets and how they work and how they work together. Well hope to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

I took Ronald Webster"s program 35 years and have kept up with the changes to his program that included changes to the speech targets that are taught in his program. I have a lot of experience with applying his targets in many different situations and am very well read in psychology and have participated in many therapies of different varieties to help me use the speech targets. My experience has taught me that the people who do well with the Hollins program are those who work hard, are trying to apply the targets consistently and very importantly HAD A LOW DISFLUENCY RATE as measured by Hollins at the beginning of the program. I have researched this and discovered that the people that Hollins puts forward in their ADVERTISING as John Stossel and others had a low disfluency rate. What does this mean? It means that they have an easier time understanding the targets and and easier time applying them. One person who Hollins uses in their advertisement told me that he does not even use all the targets Hollins taught him and he is fluent!! The reason: HE IS MORE RELAXED AND THERE IS LESS TENSION WORKING AGAINST HIM IN USING THE TARGETS. My question to you is: what was your son's disfluency rate as measured by Hollins at the start of the program?? Hollins can tell you this. I will bet it was high. Find out and let us all know here if you want to. This conclusion of mine is of course based on the assumption that your son was able to learn the speech targets and how they work and how they work together. Well hope to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

american institute for stuttering – Do not go here, this ""Institute" does not offer a real stuttering program. The American Institute of Stuttering (AIS) was founded by someone who originally worked for (Professor/Dr.) Ronald Webster of the Hollins Communications Institute in Virginia,a real Institute associated with a University, AIS occupies a few rooms on one floor in downtown Manhattan. The Founder of AIS delivered the Precision Fluency Shaping Program (PFSP) for Ronald Webster in NYC for approx. 8 years until Dr. Webster determined she wasn't delivering it correctly and he fired her. I went to the NYC PFSP in the 80's and knew her. And went back there several times for refreshers. My experience was that she never understood Dr. Webster's stuttering program, she probably never delivered it correctly and she probably was never really interested to deliver it correctly. She was too heavily influenced by her experiences at the Option Institute in Mass. that she heavily attended. The Option Insitute is has a cult like environment led by a charasmatic leader who provides advice on how to be happy and successful using such techniques as "don't judge yourself or others" which you are supposed to do constantly all day long (how practical is that?). With respect to her and Dr. Webster, she was fired as I said and she then started the Total Immersion Fluency Program (a rather bold title don't you think?) using the same information and technique provided by the PFSP without the feedback computer to judge your voice and using this same material in new manuals with her name on it. I took this program and she told me before I came that it was all new material!! She had dropped one PFSP speech target and I trusted her and then I walked around stuttering out of control until I put it back in and then my speech improved. She then continued to change the PFSP program until it was called the American Institute for Stuttering. Our Founder seems to think that she has the "option" to change the speech program she delivers for approx. $4,000 and experiment with people who are hoping to have control over their speech as often as she wants. The American Institute for Stuttering program is yet one more program that the Founder came up with that does not work. But AIS has a board of famous people who stutter whose speech problem was mild in the first place (obviously) who you think is active in the AIS stuttering program providing tips and such but they are not, they are just on the Board for show. The AIS program (continued in next post)........................................................

Anonymous said...

buffet of all and any techniques for stuttering determined over the past 100 years including a small part of the Hollins program (hey, what the heck!). AIS is actually guilty of false advertising indirectly since one of course assumes that either the people on the Board took one of her programs or that they use techniques that are in the AIS program or that YOU will be able to eventually talk like them. This is not true. One major part of the AIS program is heavy use of Option techniques to reduce the nervousness associated with stuttering. Their effectiveness is questionable. The AIS program is actually a glorification of the Founders personal experiences at the Option Institute where now SHE is the guru of HER Institute. People believe she is wonderful because they believe she has the right idea that stuttering cannot be cured or really controlled and that she is wonderful enough to know that and tell them that which is not exactly true. People love her because she doesn't make them do the unfortunate tuff work which one has to do to control stuttering (which the people on the Board must have done) and gives them recognition for their stuttering problem and "emotional" support for the problem. AIS is a mini Option Institute and monument to the Founder of AIS who had an uncanny knack for charming people of all backgrounds and professions to do things for her like be on her board. The main stuttering technique is RANDOM FLUENCY MANAGEMENT. Go to Hollins and work hard

Anonymous said...

(American Institute For Stuttering continued): is a buffet of all and any techniques for stuttering determined over the past 100 years including a small part of the Hollins program (hey, what the heck!). AIS is actually guilty of false advertising indirectly since one of course assumes that either the people on the Board took one of her programs or that they use techniques that are in the AIS program or that YOU will be able to eventually talk like them. This is not true. One major part of the AIS program is heavy use of Option techniques to reduce the nervousness associated with stuttering. Their effectiveness is questionable. The AIS program is actually a glorification of the Founders personal experiences at the Option Institute where now SHE is the guru of HER Institute. People believe she is wonderful because they believe she has the right idea that stuttering cannot be cured or really controlled and that she is wonderful enough to know that and tell them that which is not exactly true. People love her because she doesn't make them do the unfortunate tuff work which one has to do to control stuttering (which the people on the Board must have done) and gives them recognition for their stuttering problem and "emotional" support for the problem. AIS is a mini Option Institute and monument to the Founder of AIS who had an uncanny knack for charming people of all backgrounds and professions to do things for her like be on her board. The main stuttering technique is RANDOM FLUENCY MANAGEMENT. Go to Hollins and work hard

Anonymous said...

If I were you I would not go to hollins. regardless if the therapy works or not, the clinical staff there is very unprofessional. While I was there I overheard two clinicians-Holly and Courtney- talking about how "weird our group was". The other clinician-Cathryn- Never came out of her office and had very little to do with the rest of the clinical staff. I was not the only client that week to hear Holly and Courtney talk negatively about us. I was very repulsed by their words and manner and had I known I was going to be treated in such a distasteful manner I would have never gone. I'm all for getting treatment, but unless you want to be made out as a freak by the clinicians, I wouldn't go to Hollins.

Chetan C said...

My experience with Hollins has been life changing. I attended Hollins around 1994. I came out completely fluent. I was fluent for 15 years. I practiced my targets every now and then and was able to maintain my fluency. Then I started to lose that discipline because of which I started faultering on some words. Completely my own doing. In 2010 I took a refresher. My fluency returned. As long as I practice my targets and remained disciplined in that, I could maintain complete fluency. whenever I put in a little practice in the morning - on my way to work for example - my day is fantastic. I work in the financial industry - I speak to clients all day, I speak at events to large groups of people. This is the deal - Hollins gave me the tools I needed to be fluent. Anyone who puts in the work and uses the tools will be fluent (just like you were when you were at the center in a controlled environment). I read some of the negative comments here and felt I needed to respond. Hollins made me BELIEVE that I could be fluent. That's all I needed. They rest was up to me. I have to do the work to maintain my fluency. Anyone who was fluent and gets lazy in practice will fall back to their old ways. Please don't put down a program because you did not do the work. I recommend Hollins for two reasons. One - to realize that you CAN be fluent. And two, for the tools that you can carry with you always. I have the audio practices on my iPhone and use whenever I need to. Anyone who has has had a less than successful transfer to the 'real world', please get back to the basics and practice. For the cynics out there - please know that I write this off my own accord.

Anonymous said...

What was your original rate of disfluency? Can you share with us how you practice?

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us what your original rate of disfluency was? Very successful people in the program had a low disfluency rate.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us what your original rate of disfluency was? Very successful people in the program had a low disfluency rate.

Anonymous said...

What was your disfluency rate? People who do very well in the Hollins program had a low disfluency rate. People who Hollins use in their advertising had low disfluency rates. This man"s success is rare.

Chetan C said...

I recognize that every one is different. No 2 people will have exactly the same outcome from Hollins as there are other factors that determine your success. Hollins focuses only on the mechanics of fluent speech - but your own emotional aspects cannot be discounted. Personally I had what could be considered a medium disfluency - not sure if there is a more exact way of measuring this. But I have seen worse - and seen way better. Hence my medium assemment. In any case - whether Hollins worked for you or not, I don't believe it should be debunked. I would highly encourage taking the full session and understanding the mechanics of fluent speech. After that, each individual's long term fluency rate will probably vary. But you will know this - that you CAN speak fluently. That is a wonderful feeling.but i do agree that long term success will depend on your individual make up. It's exactly the same as weight loss. There's the mechanics of exercise and initial success. some people keep the weight off. Others regain it. Does not mean joining the gym was a bad ideal.

Larry C. Lyons said...

Just a very short comment on the effectiveness of HCRI. First of all, there are independent journal articles that have shown the efficacy of HCRI's methodology.

Secondly as a graduate student in the mid-1990's, I worked at HCRI on a fellowship. One of my duties was to do the statistical analysis for one of their follow-up studies. What I found based on blindly rated fluency scores taken from subject recordings pre, post-therapy and two to four years later. was that immediately following therapy the vast majority of subjects were in the normal fluency ranges (>95%). The majority of subject maintained that fluency two years later. Whether the person maintained fluency appeared to be related to the amount they practiced in order to maintain fluency levels.

I suspect that with many who complained about the therapy not working, neglect to keep up with their specific maintenance issues and plans, and not practicing fluency.

Anonymous said...

My son attended the HCRI program eleven years ago at the age of 16. We saw no real improvement in his speech during or after the program.

Please understand that I'm not a student working on a fellowship or a therapist of any kind - I'm just a single mom who gave up every creature comfort and many creature necessities to send her child to a place she couldn't afford to do what no one else said could be done. If you think for one second that my son did not keep up with his maintenance plan, you are wrong. Our investment was too great for that. I'm glad that it worked for some (initially) but I can definitely say it did not work for my family. His results were negligible. Do not be fooled. If you can't afford to throw away money, find another program that will focus on the whole person AND tailor a program suited to individual needs.

Anonymous said...

It is stated on the website that Dr. Webster is a psychologist. Are all of his facilitating clinicians ASHA certified speech language pathologists?

M

Anonymous said...

I attended three Hollins-based fluency-shaping programs from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, including a refresher weekend at Hollins itself. My usual level of disfluency is severe. By the end of all three programs, I reached a normal level of fluency within the clinic, which carried over to my family and close friends outside for 1-2 months. I would practice at least 1 hour per day, every day, often much more. My practice included making cold calls to restaurants and stores to ask closing times, etc.

After leaving the clinic, my fluency gradually disappeared, as the pressures of normal life outside the protected environment of the clinic took over. With my severe level of disfluency, I found I needed to maintain fanatical attention to the mechanics of my speech, which made spontaneous, communicative talk impossible. Also, to maintain my "targets" in everyday, stressful situations--talking on the phone at work, ordering out, etc.--I had to speak in such an exaggerated, slow way that my "fluent" speech became more disabling and disfiguring than my stutter. (At least when I block, people understand what's happening. When you're trying to order coffee while speaking at 0.5-seconds per syllable, people think you're insane.)

In each program, there were patients who had what I would characterize as mild stutters, more of a cosmetic issue for them than a disability. Not surprisingly, they were the ones who seemed to benefit the most from the therapy.

Lastly, I also noticed a guilt-tripping tendency on the part of clinicians at all three programs, very much in the tenor of the comment by the graduate student above: basically, if fluency-shaping wasn't working for you, it was because you weren't practicing hard enough, not because anything was inherently wrong with the program. It took me a long time to get over this scarring, which by far was the worst aspect of the programs.

Basically, if you get to adulthood and you have severe stutter, you're always going to have it. This does NOT mean that you can't live a hugely fulfilling and successful life--something I realized once I stopped throwing money at these snake-oil schemes and started to accept myself for what I was, warts and all.