Understanding & Controlling Stuttering

Understanding & Controlling Stuttering

A Comprehensive New Approach Based on the Valsalva Hypothesis

The Revised and Expanded Third Edition - Coming in 2013

By William D. Parry,
Esq., M.A., CCC-SLP

A licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and Trial Lawyer, founder of the Philadelphia Area Chapter of the National Stuttering Association, and former member of the National Stuttering Association Board of Directors


(Revised and Expanded 3rd Edition, 2013, trade paperback, 320 pages, 6 x9 inches, perfect bound, illustrated; ISBN 1-929773-01-3)

Puzzled about stuttering? If so, here is a book, written in clear, every-day language, that fits together the pieces of the stuttering puzzle as never before. The key to its approach is the Valsalva Hypothesis. This exciting new theory proposes that stuttering blocks may result from a neurological confusion between the voice and the Valsalva mechanism (which normally assists us in exerting effort and forcing things out of the body). The book demonstrates how physical and psychological factors may interact to stimulate and perpetuate stuttering through a "Valsalva-Stuttering Cycle."

The book sheds new light on virtually every aspect of stuttering behavior - its causes, its paradoxes (e.g., why it's worse in some instances but not others), and its many forms of treatment.

Finally, it presents a detailed self-help therapy program based on Valsalva Stuttering Therapy, recently developed with the help of dozens of participants from all over the world, which is aimed at controlling the Valsalva mechanism, breaking the stuttering cycle, and freeing the stutterer's inherent fluency.

Contents of Understanding and Controlling Stuttering, with links to selected chapters from the book.
See The Valsalva Mechanism: A Key to Understanding and Controlling Stuttering, for an introductory article about the Valsalva Hypothesis and the possible relationship between stuttering and the Valsalva mechanism (based on author's presentation at the 1995 World Congress for People Who Stutter).
Comments about the book and the Valsalva Hypothesis
Author's Comments
About the author
How to order
Contact Information

What others have said about the previous edition . . .

"Lucid, easy-to-read . . . . You learn to see your stuttering in an entirely new light. . . . Bill has identified and demystified one of the key elements of the [stuttering] system - the speech block - and he does it in a way that makes perfect sense. His book ... is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of his or her own stuttering. It's also a must for the speech pathologist looking for a keener understanding of the hidden dynamics behind the stuttering block."

John C. Harrison - Review in Letting Go, National Stuttering Project

"A well-researched book which benefits from the author's personal experience of stammering."

Dr. Trudy Stewart - Review in Speaking Out, Association for Stammerers (England)

"[The Valsalva Hypothesis] is of potentially significant scientific value in explaining the nature of stuttering behavior. . . . "

J. David Williams, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University

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Author's Comments to previous edition:

Most people who stutter are capable of fluent speech at least some of the time. Their problem is not the lack of ability to speak, but rather an interference with that ability - usually when the words seem most important. This book shows how a stutterer's blocks are actually powered by the body's Valsalva mechanism - a neurologically coordinated combination of muscles in the larynx, mouth, chest, and abdomen. According to the Valsalva Hypothesis, stutterers may have developed the habit of activating the Valsalva mechanism in an attempt to force out words when they anticipate difficulty in speaking. Although this may feel like the "right" thing to do, it results in forceful blockages of airflow by the mouth or larynx and interference with phonation - two of the basic, underlying elements of stuttering. Therefore, the harder one struggles against stuttering, the worse the blocks become. After years of stuttering, these behaviors become deeply rooted in the nerve pathways of the brain, making them extremely difficult to change.

This book lays out a comprehensive plan to improve fluency by controlling the Valsalva mechanism and breaking the Valsalva-Stuttering Cycle. Unlike other therapies, which may have an indirect effect on various aspects of the Valsalva-Stuttering Cycle, Valsalva Control focuses directly on the Valsalva mechanism itself and attacks all aspects of the Cycle - both physical and psychological. It includes specific advice and exercises related to breathing, phonating, and relaxing muscles of the Valsalva mechanism. The goal is not artificially produced fluency, but speech that is free, easy, and enjoyable.

The book does not promise any quick and easy gimmicks to "cure" stuttering. Instead, its approach requires that we first gain a thorough understanding of what stuttering is and why we do it. Based on insights gained from the Valsalva Hypothesis, it analyzes the symptoms and circumstances of stuttering, the development of stuttering in childhood, the influence of heredity and neurological factors, and the physical and psychological conditions that tend to increase or reduce stuttering. It then discusses the strengths and weaknesses of existing therapies (including drugs and electronic devices), points out the elements that many therapies have in common, shows why most stutterers tend to relapse, and indicates ways in which therapies might be made more effective.

It would be presumptuous to claim that people will be "cured" of stuttering just by reading a book. Nevertheless, this book is sure to provide a deeper understanding of stuttering, as well as effective tools to reduce one's struggle in speaking.

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About the Author . . .

William D. Parry, Esq., M.A., CCC-SLP

Bill Parry is a licensed speech-language pathologist and trial lawyer.  He received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an Editor of the Law Review. After struggling most of his life with a severe stuttering problem, Parry became frustrated with existing theories and therapies and began his own research and experimentation. This resulted in his "Valsalva Hypothesis" (published in the Journal of Fluency Disorders in December 1985) and a therapeutic approach called "Valsalva Control," which dramatically improved his fluency.  This enabled him to become a successful trial lawyer in Philadelphia.  He has been listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Law.

Parry founded the Philadelphia Area Chapter of the National Stuttering Association in 1985 and led its support group meetings for 15 years.  He also served for six years on the Board of Directors of the National Stuttering Association and as Chair of its Advocacy Committee.  He has appeared on TV and radio talk shows and, in 1987, received the "Spirit of Philadelphia Award" from WCAU-TV Channel 10 News. He has given workshops and presentations on the Valsalva Hypothesis locally, at NSP conventions, at the Third International Convention for People Who Stutter in 1992, and at the World Congress of People Who Stutter, in 1995 in Sweden, and elsewhere. A preliminary edition of his book, Understanding and Controlling Stuttering, first appeared in 1992. The Completed Edition was published in 1994, and the Second Edition was published in 2000.  It has been the NSA's most popular book and is now in its fifth updated printing.

Parry received a Master's Degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Science from Temple University.  He has received a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is currently practicing stuttering therapy and law in the Philadelphia area.

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For information concerning stuttering self-help and support, please contact:

National Stuttering Association
119 West 40th Street, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Telephone: (800) WE STUTTER or (212) 944-4050
Fax: (212) 944-8244
e-mail: info@westutter.org

Researchers and speech-language pathologists seeking further information about the Valsalva Hypothesis and Valsalva Control may contact: The Valsalva-Stuttering Network - on the web at www.valsalva.org or e-mail: valsalvastutter@aol.com.

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Contact Information:


William D. Parry, Esquire, Esq.., CCC-SLP
A licensed speech-language pathologist and trial lawyer, offering stuttering therapy and counseling (including Valsalva Control therapy) in person in Philadelphia and over the Internet via webcam (subject to applicable law). 


Ofice: 1608 Walnut Street, Suite 900, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Cell phone: 215-620-6792




Stuttering Therapy and Counseling: www.stutteringtherapist.com

The Valsalva-Stuttering Network: www.valsalva.org
        E-mail: valsalvastutter@aol.com
Beating Stuttering Blocks: www.stutterblock.com
Stuttering and the Law: www.stutterlaw.com


Valsalva Control Therapy for Stuttering is a new, on-line therapy to improve fluency by controlling the physiological mechanism that may be causing stuttering blocks. For further information on Valsalva Control Therapy, visit Stuttering Therapy and Counseling at www.stutteringtherapist.com, or e-mail Mr. Parry at

stutteringtherap@aol.com to arrange a free consultation.


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Updated: April 13, 2013

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