Online speech therapy via video conferencing is now potentially available to adults who stammer in the UK if there is no local service available.
Last year the speech and language therapy department at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust carried out a trial of its innovative Teletherapy for people who stammer, which offered speech therapy via video-conferencing. After winning a public service award from the Guardian newspaper for the trial, they are now offering the therapy to all adults who stammer throughout the UK where traditional NHS services are not available.
The service offers help to adults who stammer at a place convenient to them, which could be their home using a PC, tablet, smart phone or smart TV.
How to access the Teletherapy
If there are no NHS speech and language therapy services locally to you, Teletherapy is an option. Google ‘NHS speech therapy’ and your area to see if there are any local services. If not, make an appointment with your GP to request Teletherapy.
Teletherapy is not routinely supported, so your GP will need to make an individual request for funding to their local clinical commissioning group to release funds for your therapy (a clinical commissioning group is the NHS body that plans and pays for all the health services in your area). You will need to provide your GP with information on stammering and the Teletherapy service to help them apply for NHS funding on your behalf, so print the following information for your visit:
- Telemedicine Stammering Service description document (pdf) – this explains more about the therapy.
- Individual Funding Request (IFR) document (pdf).
If you are applying for an individual funding request via your GP you would need to show evidence that you are more affected by your stammer than most, and are likely to benefit significantly more from the therapy. Airedale NHS provides a free online assessment to determine this. Email them at email@example.com to arrange an assessment.
If your employer has agreed to pay for the teletherapy, or if you are self-funding it, you don't need to go through your GP. Download this referral form (Word document), complete it with your details and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about costs and funding options can be found in the Telemedicine Stammering Service description document (pdf).
Here are some quotes from patients collected shortly after having Teletherapy:
"You helped me to know I’m in control. I’m not scared anymore."
"I can do everyday things that normal people do. I used to see people chatting and think, I wish I could do that. And now I'm able to."
"The stammer had put me in a corked bottle. Now the cork has been opened."
"The world suddenly seems full of possibilities."
"Therapy has changed the way I feel about the stammer. I don’t avoid as much and I allow myself to stammer. I am really glad I came across this."
"I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. You gave me the confidence."
And here are some quotes collected 6-12 months after Teletherapy:
"Since having the therapy I have become much more comfortable with my stammer in both a business and social setting. I am now much more open about it and am using it to my advantage and displaying it as a positive rather than a negative."
"I still stammer, and it can happen unexpectedly, but I feel much better about it overall than I used to. I feel more confident in all aspects of my life without exaggeration, from talking to strangers, to making presentations or phone calls, etc. Even if the stammer is still here, I came to accept it more and not let it interfere with what I want to do."
"I feel differently about the stammer, as now I see it as less of an obstacle. I am not worried as much and less apprehensive about how I perform in scenarios including presentations, interviews or social gatherings."
You can also read this case study following Dave's experience of the therapy: Dave's Story (pdf document).
The BSA has collaborated in the project from the start, and it is through the BSA website that most of the referrals for the speech therapy trial have come. We are happy to offer support along the way and would love to hear how you get on with your GP and the whole process.
Stephanie Burgess of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust writes of her experience of providing stammering therapy via video link (to a prisoner) in Speech therapy in prison: the therapist’s view.