Relaxation Technique In Treating Stuttering

...The F. M. Alexander Technique

Along with varied therapies and programs designed to treat stuttering, one method is based on the premise of developing and controlling self-awareness, movement, balance, support and coordination. This is called the F.M. Alexander Technique.

The F.M. Alexander Technique is a psychological approach used in treating stuttering. Worth noting is that it is not a treatment specific to stuttering or to any disorder. It is a method of improving ease and freedom of movement. It teaches to use the appropriate amount of effort exerted in certain activities. However, the F.M. Alexander Technique is not or limited to a series of exercises; it is a reeducation of the mind and body.

It was named after its developer F. Matthias Alexander, who initially developed it as a technique for vocal training for singers and actors in the late nineteenth century. While developing this system and with varied experiments, F.M Alexander realized the importance of naturally functioning respiratory mechanism in a well-functioning physical body.

He introduced a technique, which he called the reeducation of breathing mechanism. Hence, many medical doctors eventually recognized such innovative perspective during those times. F. M. Alexander also discovered that breathing and vocalization are essential component of how body functions well. Take for example the habitual breathing and vocal patterns. Both are crucial aspects of habitual patterns of general bodily coordination. Coordination includes posture, breathing, movement, and tension patterns.

As such, he eventually developed a method that teaches patients to change consciously their maladaptive habits of coordination. F. M. Alexander found out that habits are generally psychophysical in nature, be that physical or mental habits. This is because he realized that the mind and body function are integrated entity rather than working individually.

In addition, he observed that one’s perspective towards his activities determines how he coordinates himself to those activities. At the same time, long-practiced habits of too much tension and inefficient coordination affect vocal training. The method of breathing reeducation and then a comprehensive technique of psychophysical reeducation help solve the difficulties.

Thus, the F. M. Alexander Technique aids stutterers to develop more awareness and control in their activities. This came from the premise that the difficulties people experience in many levels such as learning, control of performance, and physical functioning are caused by unconscious habits. As such, these unconscious habits interfere with the natural poise and the capacity to learn. Therefore, the technique teaches a person to eliminate such interference in the innate coordination of the body creating greater self-confidence and presence of mind.

Therefore, finding out about vocal technique and breathing problems, many of his students developed therapeutic mechanisms in solving various problems including stuttering. They followed his premise on breathing mechanisms and respiratory technique.

However, one should keep in mind that the F. M. Alexander Technique does not treat a passive patient. Positive results will yield from conscious eliminating of harmful habits that cause physical and emotional stress. Both American educational philosopher John Dewey and Nobel-prize-winning scientist Nikolaas Tinbergen recognized such technique as an effective aid in improving physical and psychological well-being. Thus, it is now used as a combination therapy in treating stuttering.


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