On the first day of the course for people who stutter, the physical day is always the hardest one. We are asking the new students to trust complete strangers as we are rewiring their speech completely. Starting from scratch with the breathing.
Two brave new students, one of them only 14 years old, showed great discipline throughout the day. Learning about the physical weapons that our stutter has, and how to counteract them with our physical weapons. By 12 o’clock they already had four hours of breathing & practising with our fabulous coaches. These coaches dedicated their time, coming from all over the world, to help the new students. Alongside we had three grads that came back and worked on their speech.
What worked well is that we were alternating the break-out rooms. Sometimes shorter ones (5 min or 10 min) and sometimes longer ones (for example 20 min to go over the directions). And we focussed on getting the new students to do most of the talking after 12 pm to practice, practice, practice.
The second day of our courses is always special. The first -physical- day is where most of the work happens, the second day is where you learn to use your physical technique in such a way that you can start chipping away at the fear that is behind your stutter.
You could compare the whole thing to football: On the first day, you learn how to get back the ball, and on the second day you learn how to score. Seeing the confidence grow in our new students and returning graduates, as both the physical and the psychological techniques are reinforced, is what makes being an instructor so rewarding.
The psychological day is also where you get to see how to bring what we do to everyday situations. I’ll never forget my own first course where I got to watch a coach talk to strangers on the streets. The thing was, he was scared and excited just like me – but he was handling it. He used everything we learned to be honest to himself and his listener, allowing him to consciously improve; getting more and more control of his stutter. This realisation that making mistakes was not the end, gave me all the courage I needed to try this myself.
Another amazing course witnessing the transformation of people taking control of their stutter with the help and support of an international community of coaches who dedicated their time to encouraging and supporting the new students. Learning physical techniques, understanding how fear can hold us back in situations and challenging these beliefs allowed the new students to take those first few steps to eloquent and articulate speech.
Sunday morning saw the new students let go and have lots of fun during an energetic Harrison workshop led by Jitka Ošťádalová and her team of Harrison coaches. Following lunch, the new students and grads spent the afternoon making phone calls overkilling feared words and sounds practising the weapons. The new students had tremendous support from family and friends for the going home session where we explained the importance of speaking with fewer words per breath, practising the weapons and pushing out of their comfort zones.
A big thank you to the coaches who attended the farewell speeches showing support and encouragement to the 2 new students.