Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, Vol 7, No 2 (2016)

There is no cure for this’: An exploration of the professional identities of Speech and Language Therapists

Mary O' Dwyer, Margaret Leahy
Issued Date: 17 Oct 2016


Professional identities as a concept, and identities ascribed to speech and language therapists (SLTs) by people who stutter are the focus of this paper. A descriptive model is presented, outlining aspects of the co-construction of professional identities. People who stutter attend speech and language therapy and co-construct their own identities and the professional identities of SLTs in the process. Data from interviews with people who stutter is analysed using a dialogic/performance analysis (Riessman, 2008). This form of narrative analysis facilitates attention to the dialogical enactment of identities. The data leads to a focus on the negotiation of therapists’ professional identities as being able to provide a ‘cure’ in stuttering therapy with value placed on fluency – or stutter-free speech – as opposed to considering the whole person and working on feelings and thoughts as well as speech. The concept of professional identities – as dynamic and plural – is discussed and the negotiation of power relations as a facet of identity is explored.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/jircd.v7i2.29970


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2007). Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology. Retrieved on 1 November 2014 from

Bloodstein, O. and Bernstein Ratner, N. (2008). A Handbook on Stuttering (6th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.

Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bruner, J. (1998). Narrative and metanarrative in the construction of self. In M. D. Ferrari, and R. J. Sternberg (eds) Self-awareness: Its Nature and Development, 308–331. New York: The Guilford Press.

Cheasman, C., Everard, R. and Simpson, S. (2013). Stammering Therapy From the Inside. Guildford: J&R Press Ltd.

DiLollo, A. and Neimeyer, R. A. (2014). Counseling in Speech -- Language Pathology and Audiology. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing.

DiLollo, A., Neimeyer, R. A., and Manning, W. (2002). A personal construct psychology view of relapse: Indications for a narrative therapy component to stuttering treatment. Journal of Fluency Disorders 27: 19–42.

Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, Youth and Crisis. New York: W.W. Norton.

Gibson, D. M., Dollarhide, C. T., and Moss, J. M. (2010). Professional identity development: A grounded theory of transformational tasks of new counselors. Counselor Education and Supervision 50: 21–37.

Guitar, B. (2013). Stuttering: An Integrated Approach to its Nature and Treatment (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Williams &Wilkins.

Hengst, J. A., Duff, M. C, and Prior, P. A. (2008). Multiple voices in clinical discourse and as a clinical intervention. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 42: 58–68.

Kovarsky, D. (2008). Representing voices from the life-world in evidence-based practice. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 42: 47–57.

Leahy, M. (2008). Multiple voices in Charles Van Riper’s desensitisation therapy. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 42: 69–80.

Leahy, M. and Warren, A. (2007). Making stuttering manageable: The use of narrative therapy. In J. Au-Yeung and M. M. Leahy (Eds) Research, Treatment and Self-Help in Fluency Disorders: New Horizons, 320–324. Proceedings of the 5th World Congress on Fluency Disorders.

Leahy, M., O’Dwyer, M., and Ryan, F. (2012). Witnessing stories: Definitional ceremonies in narrative therapy with adults who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders 37(4): 234–241.

Logan, J. (2007). From client to consultant: Developing ‘outsider–witness practices’ with adults who stammer. In J. Au-Yeung and M. M. Leahy (Eds) Research, Treatment and Self-Help in Fluency Disorders: New Horizons, 325–332. Proceedings of the 5th World Congress on Fluency Disorders.

Myerhoff, B. (1982) Life history among the elderly: Performance, visibility, and remembering. In J. Ruby (Ed.) A Crack in the Mirror: Reflexive Perspective in Anthropology, 99–117. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Myerhoff, B. (1978). Number Our Days. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Onions, C. T. (Ed.), (1966). The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Riessman, C. (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. London: Sage.

Sheehan, J. G. (2003). Principles of counseling people who stutter. In J. Fraser (Ed.) Effective Counseling in Stuttering Therapy 27–36. Memphis, TN: The Stuttering Foundation of America.

Simmons-Mackie, N. and Damico, J. (2011). Exploring clinical interaction in speech-language therapy: Narrative, discourse and relationships. In R. Fourie (Ed.) Therapeutic Processes for Communication Disorders: A Guide for Clinicians and Students, 35–52. London: Psychology Press.

Solomon, J. (2007). Metaphors at Work: Making Professional Identity. Retrieved on 25 September 2014 from

Stewart, T. and Turnbull, J. (2010). The Dysfluency Resource Book (2nd ed.). London: Speechmark.

Van Riper, C. (1973). The Treatment of Stuttering. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Van Riper, C. (1982). The Nature of Stuttering (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Walsh, I. P. (2008). ‘Whose voice is it anyway?’ Hushing and hearing in speech and language therapy interactions with people with chronic schizophrenia. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 42: 81–95.

White, M. and Epston, D. (1990). Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. New York: W. W. Norton.

White, M. (2007). Maps of Narrative Practice. New York: W. W. Norton.

White, M. (2011). Narrative Practice: Continuing the Conversations. New York: W. W. Norton.

Winslade, J. (2002). Storying professional identity. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work 4: 33–37.

Yairi, E. and Seery, C. (2015). Stuttering: Foundations and Clinical Applications (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy