“Openness and progress with communication and confidence have all gone hand in hand”: Reflections on the experience of transitioning between concealment and openness among adults who stutter

Michael P. Boyle, Rodney M. Gabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the experience of people who stutter as they navigate through the growth process from concealment to openness. Method: Twelve adults who stutter who are active in self-help/support groups for stuttering described their experiences of concealment and openness in a semi-structured interview. Purposeful selection was utilized to recruit participants who could comment thoughtfully on previous concealing, but became more open about their stuttering. A phenomenological approach was utilized to gain a deeper understanding of how people who stutter experience the transition from concealment to openness regarding their stuttering and identity. Thematic analysis contributed to identification of themes and subthemes describing participants’ experiences. Results: Participants described precursors to concealment that led to hiding and avoidance, which grew in strength until they reached a turning point. They then changed how they related to their stuttering by changing their behaviors and perceptions of stuttering, which led to increased openness about their identity. This process of continued adaptation to stuttering was ongoing and non-linear, but suggested general trends from concealment to more openness over time. Level of openness was impacted by situational context and individual differences. Conclusions: The findings extend our understanding of how people who stutter navigate transitions from concealment to openness. This deeper understanding could be helpful in explaining the complexities involved in managing the identity of a person who stutters, and the process of adapting to living with stuttering over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105781
JournalJournal of Fluency Disorders
Volume65
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Concealment
  • Disclosure
  • Openness
  • Stuttering

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