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Finding Confidence: Karen's journey to specializing in fluency disorders

I didn’t start specializing in Fluency Disorders on purpose. I seriously spent the first half of my career avoiding them at all costs! Not because I didn't want to help all the patients who needed my help but because I felt ill-equipped. I had coursework at both the undergraduate and graduate level and I did well in the classes but I had one opportunity to treat one patient for one semester in Grad School and knew that wasn’t enough. I had little confidence in my skill set and somehow got lucky and wasn’t tasked with any fluency cases in my first job settings.


When I started working in private practice, the practice owner treated all the fluency cases and loved it. I treated speech and language disorders which was what I loved and became good at that! I didn't give those fluency cases another thought. Until the practice owner came to me and told me of her plans to retire and offered me the opportunity to take over the practice. I was thrilled for her, and excited for me, and immediately started the learning curve of becoming a practice owner. Then, it dawned on me that she would be leaving and taking her fluency expertise with her!


I referred patients out for a little while but that didn't feel right to me. If I wanted to properly serve the patients in my community, I had to level up my knowledge and

skills. So I did just that! I sought out the top names in the field. Flew to Pittsburgh to learn from Dr. Scott Yaruss. I made a connection with Dr. Scaler Scott and other great therapists and teachers. I watched therapists do therapy, talked to different people about different approaches, asked loads of questions, and ultimately gained the confidence to do the kind of therapy I would want someone I loved and cared about to receive.


That has always been my benchmark. I constantly ask myself “Am I (and the other

therapists in the office) providing therapy that is sooo good, I would send my own loved ones to this office for treatment?” The answer is yes, a solid yes. That’s what all patients deserve.


Stuttering and Cluttering are multi-faceted disorders and I have had the pleasure of treating patients of all ages and ridden the roller coaster of understanding their disorder with them. A patient recently reached back out to me and asked if she could interview me for a school paper. She had seen me as a preschooler for language and articulation delays. Once she reached school age, she received therapy in school. She returned for therapy early in high school to address stuttering. We worked on it from a few angles and she did great! She knew she could use strategies when she wanted to and felt comfortable enough with herself to be dysfluent when she didn’t want to use strategies. She asked me lots of questions about why I chose my career, what I loved about it etc. Then I asked her “What do you think helped you the most with your fluency?” Her answer: “Confidence, you helped me have enough confidence in WHAT I was saying so that HOW I said it mattered less. Once I got that in my head, my fluency

improved across the board.”


That is why I do what I do!


Here she is after our interview. Go get 'em, Sophie!



Karen Masters with patient

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