‘This course changed my life’: How speech therapy is helping Manchester residents

People suffering from stammering were able to build their confidence in Manchester with an intensive speech therapy course last weekend.

The McGuire programme aims to help people all over the world who struggle with stammering, something that affects around 3% of the UK’s population.

The McGuire programme, which was set up in 1994, is now a leading global organisation and runs courses all over the world in countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland, USA, Australia.

Throughout the course students are expected to strip back what they already know about speaking and learn new techniques to help them improve their speech, including a technique called Costal Diaphragm training.

Mcguire training course

Paul Paluch, McGuire course instructor said: “Throughout the course we are teaching them a very mechanical way of speaking. The course is about bringing all that together, bringing their techniques from the classroom out into the real world”.

“It’s about pushing comfort zones. We talk about how life begins at the edge of your comfort zone and it’s far more exciting when you do something challenging and that’s what this is about”.

One session which runs at the end of the course for students is the Harrison workshop, which aims to bring people out of their comfort zone throughout a range of activities while practising speech techniques they have learnt in the days prior.

The workshop includes working on voice projection, deliberate dysfluency, eye contact, pausing and adding music to your voice, then bringing this all together. 

It gives participants a chance to practice their newly learnt speech in an everyday setting, being presented with challenges from their coaches.

Student practicing breathing techniques

Paluch added: “I did this for the first time 20 years ago and I hated it because it made me feel so uncomfortable and it was only a few courses afterwards that I realised the growth that happened in this session.

“These guys started out on Wednesday night not being able to say their names, Thursday night they can say their names and addresses, Friday they were able to do telephone calls to complete strangers, and here we are on Saturday watching them find new confidence in their voice and putting it into action”.

Most members of the McGuire programme, about 95%, have been through traditional speech therapy with licensed, trained professionals but left with little or no lasting results. But the McGuire programme’s qualified trainers offer a different approach to speech therapy and success rates have soared through the roof.

Mustapha Cham, a student of the course said: “I started in 2014 and this hotel here in Manchester was my first course so I’ve been here for eight years now and it’s just fantastic the way the course has helped me”.

The last part of the course challenges students to a public speaking session, where they each stand in public and deliver a speech. 

Public speaking challenge

Tears from the crowd came after a lot of emotional speeches in St Anne’s square on Saturday where students faced their fears and stood up to do something they would have usually avoided in everyday life.

During his speech James Wilson, another student said: “Massive congratulations to the new students today, they have all done amazing today, it’s such a big thing but I’m sure you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. Thanks to the coaches and to all the grads for also making this most memorable”.

If you or someone you know struggles with stammering you can visit for more information on courses and how they help.

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