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Answers About the McGuire Program

The McGuire Program is a stuttering treatment program for adults who stutter that was developed by David McGuire. David is a person who stutters and a semi-professional tennis player who used his knowledge of stuttering, breathing methods and sports mentality to develop his stuttering treatment program known as the McGuire Program. It has been running now for about 15 years.

At the core of the program is a breathing method that is taught called "costal breathing". Participants are taught the theory of costal breathing then over the duration of the program practice in varying situations to use this form of breathing when they are speaking in the outside world. The culmination of the program is a short speech in a public area.

Apart from the costal breathing technique participants are taught the benefits of eye contact and pausing while they are speaking. They are also introduced to the benefits of what is called "voluntary stuttering" or VS and also "self disclosure" or advertising where the individual is encouraged during the course to make contact with a number of strangers and disclose to them that they are a "recovering stutterer". There is a checklist of technique procedures that are drummed into the participants to assist their transition from classroom to the outside world.

The McGuire program is a "live-in" course and is conducted over 4 days. It is not taught by speech pathologists. It is taught by fellow stutterers who have themselves been taught the technique and are themselves recovering from stuttering.

The course is well attended however at this point it is only conducted in UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and to a lesser extent in the USA.

The course is not cheap and costs about 1,350 EUR, 1,250 GBP, 2,200 AUS, 2,000 USD or 15,200 ZAR plus food and accommodation. "Graduates" of the course are able to attend as many courses as they choose following their initial program for a cost of about 10% of the original cost plus food and accommodation. Participants also receive a very well written book authored by Dave McGuire called Beyond Stammering as well as a certificate showing that they have completed the course.

McGuire Program Review

Is the McGuire Program a cure?

No. Like all treatments for stuttering, the McGuire Program is just a way of speaking combined with a way of thinking and behaving while you speak. It is a skill and like all skills those who work at it get the best results. The program tends to get quite a bit of media coverage which is organised from time to time by the regional directors. This media coverage invariably implies that the program is a cure for stuttering.

The course is expensive. Are the results guaranteed?

No. There is no guarantee that the technique will either suit your personality or work for you. Having said that, the course organisers allow you to come along and try the technique. At the end of the second day you are able to choose to continue on or to leave the course. If you choose to leave you are charged an administration fee of about 10 - 15% of the full cost. You can always come back and enrol in another course again if you choose.

Is the McGuire Program endorsed by the speech pathology profession?

As a general rule the McGuire Program is not endorsed by the speech pathology profession although some speech pathologists/therapists do privately encourage their clients to have a look at the program to see if it suits them. The speech pathology profession does not support the McGuire program mainly because it is not run by "professionally trained" practicianers who teach "best practice" techniques supported by accepted research practices. In simple terms the speech pathology profession cannot support the McGuire program and apart from that its existence is a threat to their profession. Having said that, the McGuire Program exists because the profession has not, to date, been successful in developing a stuttering treatment program for adults who stutter that has a higher probability of success for all their adult clients and as such many general speech pathologists are reluctant to take on adults who stutter as clients. The treatment of adult stuttering is a difficult and relatively specialised area.

Does the McGuire Program suit everyone?

One would have to answer "No" to this question. The McGuire program is a rather confronting, boot camp style of course that requires the dedicated exponent to speak in a rather breathy and confronting, assertive style that would not suit all personalities. Having said that the theory is taught in a rather motivating group environment that would rev up anyone to perform to their peak in any task. How the graduates perform following the course in their own "real world" environment is another question. If, under a somewhat subdued stutterer's personality, there lurks an assertive self assured personality waiting to be set free on the world then the McGuire Program is likely to suit that individual better than the more meek and more introspective personality.

Do most people come out fluent after the course?

Most, if not all, of the participants in the course complete the final exercise which is a quick speech to a group in a public area although the group in many cases tends to be just the other participants and family and friends and typically lasts for about 1 - 3 minutes and tends to be a little overrated as an achievement. Although the McGuire Program now claims that their aim is not to get participants fluent but "eloquent" in their speech, it would be fair to say that most people regress or relapse to some degree. All then have the choice as to whether they will return to their stuttering ways or begin the process of determining to what extent they are going to adopt these new skills. Those who choose to take on this task generally attend multiple courses over ensuing years to "hone" their skills in using the McGuire Program and some even choose to become course instructors or student mentors themselves. 

Is there support after the course?

Yes. If anything, the McGuire Program likes to pride itself on the post-treatment support that it offers. In every course there a new participants and returning participants. Returning participants become "mentors" for the new participants. On top of that heirachy are what are called Coaches and course Directors. If a new graduate is having difficulty maintaining their own standards of recovery they contact one of these people up the line to get assistance over the phone. This can occur as little or as regularly as the participants agree with their coach. In some areas the graduates organise themselves into support groups and meet on a regular basis to work on trying to achieve their own personal fluency goals. 


The McGuire program is not for everyone although some of their more successful graduates claim, in an almost religious ferver, that it is the only stuttering treatment to look at. This might be a fair enough claim in absence of anything else being offered for chronic adult stutterers by the speech pathology profession in most parts of the world. Its very successful graduates appear to be those who are relatively assertive in their nature and do not have a great deal of social phobia attached to their fluency problem. Having said that, there are many graduates who claim to have been the worst of the worst and have been successful in achieving their fluency goals after becoming involved with the McGuire Program and "expanding their comfort zone" and facing their speaking fears following the course.

The style of breathing pattern that you will have to use following the course may not be to your liking but if it eliminates the stuttering to a great extent then you will have to get used to it until the "magic pill" comes along. Having said that, experienced practitioners of the McGuire Program can use the technique in such a way and with such consistent dedication that their speech delivery would not be seen by the average person as being particularly unusual.

If you are to get a lot out of the McGuire program, be prepared to become a "McGuirey". Meet with and chat with other McGuire graduates on a regular basis. Be prepared to push yourself outside your "comfort zone" of speaking situations. Be prepared to give Toastmasters a go as most of the success stories will boast a stint in a Toastmasters Club or two and have achieved some speaking awards within the Club.

My only complaint is that, for the majority of new participants, the course is not as long and as intensive as I believe it should be to give the average stutterer a good basis for going back into the outside world with a new way of speaking and general communicating behaviour but if you are prepared to put in the same hard yards that you will have to put in following any stuttering treatment course and you have the money required to invest in your future you could do worse than give the McGuire Program a shot.

A final note to the course organisers is that maybe it is about time that you made the program a little more affordable and accessable to people of lower income levels and socio-economic backgrounds.

If you have any questions you would like answered or have any suggestions of what should be covered in this section, please email


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Redifining Stuttering: What The Struggle To Speak Is Really All About

Redifining Stuttering - Harrison