Stuttering Research and Treatment Around the World: Japan In Japan, the history of speech and language treatment dates only from the 1950s. National licensure for “speech-language-hearing therapists” (SLHTs) began only recently. The first National License Examination for Speech-Language-Hearing Therapists was administered by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in March 1999. The area of stuttering is a ... World Beat
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World Beat  |   October 01, 2005
Stuttering Research and Treatment Around the World: Japan
Author Notes
  • Masamutsu Kenjo, is an associate professor and speech-language-hearing therapist at the Fukuoka University of Education. Contact him at mkenjo@fukuoka-edu.ac.jp.
    Masamutsu Kenjo, is an associate professor and speech-language-hearing therapist at the Fukuoka University of Education. Contact him at mkenjo@fukuoka-edu.ac.jp.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / World Beat
World Beat   |   October 01, 2005
Stuttering Research and Treatment Around the World: Japan
The ASHA Leader, October 2005, Vol. 10, 9-36. doi:10.1044/leader.WB6.10142005.9
The ASHA Leader, October 2005, Vol. 10, 9-36. doi:10.1044/leader.WB6.10142005.9
In Japan, the history of speech and language treatment dates only from the 1950s. National licensure for “speech-language-hearing therapists” (SLHTs) began only recently. The first National License Examination for Speech-Language-Hearing Therapists was administered by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in March 1999. The area of stuttering is a requirement in the SLHTs’ curriculum. Therefore, the number of clinicians specializing in stuttering is increasing. Before national licensure was required, stuttering was treated by clinical psychologists as well as clinicians. After licensure was in place, SLHTs became the group that primarily treats stuttering.
Stuttering Treatment in Japan
In Japan, the primary treatments for younger children, including those with severe stuttering, have for a long time been play therapy and modification of environment. These treatments are prevalent for several reasons: 1) the clinicians’ belief that increasing self-awareness of stuttering would trigger emotional reactions that might lead to even more severe stuttering; 2) although many clinicians have a background in psychology and/or psychotherapy, many are not skillful in methods of direct speech treatment for stuttering; 3) and in Japan, the diagnosogenic theory of stuttering and its psychological problem have been accepted as important theories until recent years. For these reasons, indirect treatment has mainly been used not only with preschool children but with school-age children as well.
However, since about the end of the 1990s Japanese researchers have reported on a few young children who have improved with direct speech treatment. For example, Hayasaka & Kobayashi ([2000]. Treatment of severe stuttering in a child through integration of direct and indirect treatments. The Japan Journal of Logopedics, 41, 233–242) reported on a school-age child with severe stuttering who was treated combining stuttering modification techniques, play therapy, and environmental modification. Kenjo ([2002]. Speech therapy for a child with severe stuttering: A case report. Japanese Journal of Communication Disorders, 19, 18–26) reported on a school-age child with severe stuttering who was treated with an approach combining fluency facilitation treatment, play therapy, and environmental modification.
Treatment in the Schools
Since 1958, elementary-school children who stutter mainly have been treated in the schools for speech and language disorders in a special room set aside for treatment. Students, who are removed from their regular classrooms, visit the room once or twice a week (for approximately 90 minutes per session) and are treated mostly by a teacher with expertise in speech and language disorders. But until the 1990s, the treatment was carried out as an “educational service” rather than as a regular part of the standard educational curriculum.
The number of treatment rooms gradually increased and became a regular part of the educational curriculum beginning in 1993. Most of these treatment rooms are in the elementary schools, with a few in the junior high schools. Even so, the teacher with expertise in speech and language disorders may not have specialty training in stuttering. On the other hand, school-age children who stutter often visit SLHTs for treatment.
Self-Help Groups
Self-help groups for stuttering play an important role in solving the problem of stuttering in Japan. The “Japan Stuttering Association” (Genyu-kai) was founded in 1966 in Tokyo. Afterward, local Genyu-kai were established in various regions. Currently, 29 regions in Japan are represented by Genyu-kai.
Genyu-kai and the “Japan Stuttering Project” (established in 1994) are the two biggest stuttering self-help groups in Japan now. Some SLHTs as well as teachers of speech and language disorders and stuttering researchers attend meetings on a regular basis and sometimes offer participants their own special knowledge about stuttering.
Interaction with the members is not only face-to-face but also occurs through e-mail. The main purpose of the groups is to help members live as well as possible with their stuttering rather than offer promises of complete recovery. The groups are making efforts to support junior high school students and high school students who stutter. This is especially important because many are not receiving regular treatment.
Research
In the past, Japanese researchers of stuttering have studied under researchers in the United States such as Wendell Johnson, Charles Van Riper, and, more recently, Ehud Yairi (who allowed me to attend his stuttering research program at the University of Illinois from Oct. 2003 to March 2004). After they returned to Japan, they passed on their knowledge of research methods through their teaching in their home universities.
There has not been a great deal of stuttering research performed in Japan. However, the number of researchers has increased little by little and participation and presentation of Japanese researchers at International Fluency Association meetings has increased remarkably in recent years. Japanese researchers are working on various topics such as treatment approaches for children, brain imaging, and psychological issues.
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October 2005
Volume 10, Issue 14