Making Inroads around Feelings

January 19, 2023
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We’ve posted before about the importance of giving clients the tools to talk about feelings. Sometimes you have to lay a lot of groundwork before getting into the tricky, complicated emotions of stuttering.

Here are two more activities that help clients develop the vocabulary for feelings talk, and the skills to identify and describe both positive and negative emotions.

Random feelings generator

Create a randomizer (spinwheel, dice, labeled Jenga blocks) with a variety of feelings words. Target the complexity of the words to the client’s age and vocabulary - it’s OK to stretch a little, but you don’t want to have to explain every other word. Take turns spinning the wheel with a simple prompt: “Tell me about a time you felt ________.”

When it’s your turn, model thoughtful responses. You want to choose experiences that your client will understand. They should not be so intense that they derail the session or place the focus too much on you, but should still show that it’s okay to talk openly about difficult feelings. “I felt helpless when my cat was sick and the vet wasn’t open.” “I felt jealous when my friend got picked for a job that I wanted.”

When it’s your client’s turn, empathize and validate! Use phrases like, “I can understand how that would make you feel angry” or “I bet a lot of people would feel disappointed if that happened.” This is not a time to try to fix the feelings - instead, acknowledge them, make space for them, and move on.

Feelings scavenger hunt

A slightly more advanced and active version of the above can be a great way to elicit participation in a telehealth setting, and even in a telehealth group. Send the client on a scavenger hunt through their house with the goal of finding one object that makes them feel happy, one that makes them feel sad, and one that makes them feel angry. These conversations may be longer and deeper than with the feelings wheel, but the goal is the same: to demonstrate that all feelings, even difficult ones, are allowed in the therapy room.


The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA, and services are also available online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.

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