Today we’re talking about a technique borrowed from Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: the Miracle Question. In the Miracle Question, as adapted for stuttering, the therapist asks the client to imagine that overnight, their stuttering has miraculously vanished without their knowledge. When they wake up the next morning, what would be the first things they would notice that let them know the change had occurred?
The rationale for the Miracle Question is that it leads to goals based on the client’s best wishes and hopes for their future. By enabling them to envision how things would be different, we can quickly identify what important changes they would like to make - expanding the range of goal-setting beyond fluency and into life choices. Because it highlights positive outcomes, it can also be a great way to shift focus if therapy begins to feel overburdened with the language of problems, rather than solutions.
How to do it:
When you ask the Miracle Question, really take time to get your client to visualize themselves falling asleep and waking up the next day. Once they have identified the first things they would notice, guide them to imagine more of the day as it goes on. Focus on concrete things that they would notice, rather than feelings they would have.
Then, use the goals they’ve identified to engage in strengths-based, creative problem solving. For example, a client may say that if their stuttering vanished overnight, they would confidently apply for a new job. They might imagine saying a friendly hello to a grocery store cashier, or choosing a different major, or ordering whatever they want at a restaurant. You can then ask questions about other times they have taken similar risks, and identify the strengths and strategies that helped them then and might help them now.
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.