Please join us in welcoming a very talented therapist to the AIS Staff! Chaya Goldstein, M.A., CCC-SLP has experience at AIS as a graduate student intern, a client, and now a therapist, in that order. Below is her story, in her own words. Check our her bio on our Staff & Board page.
My Journey Home
The American Institute for Stuttering holds a special place in my heart. It is here that I met a part of myself that I treasure and celebrate today; the stuttering part of me that I never knew could feel so good and alive, so whole and free.
I had been running all my life. Running, hiding, and avoiding. Fearing that with one stuttered word I would be “discovered.” Fearing that with that discovery my delicate makeshift fluent world would come crashing down.
I became a master avoider. I avoided people, places, conversation and opportunities. I was tagged “the quiet one,” “mysterious,” and “best listener.” No one knew how I hated those titles, or just how much I had to say.
Living a closeted life was exhausting. Putting up with a persona ranging from feigning snobbery to ignorance took its toll.
At nineteen I made the choice to look at my stuttering in the face. I closed the doors to the dead end paths of wishful thinking and dreams of fluency and turned toward the darkest path I knew. I knew in my heart this path would lead me to the light. It was the only way to go.
Go I did. To my undergraduate classes, drinking up the fundamentals of speech and language, and to my graduate classes, eagerly learning and sharing everything I knew about the fascinating system of human communication.
It was my stop at AIS as an intern that was a turning point for me. As a student clinician I was asking my clients to do things I never dared do. Things like voluntary stuttering, advertising, and exploring moments of stuttering. I was floored.
Terrified, I realized I had arrived. I made a commitment to step into the experience fully. With my clients, I blazed the path of uncertainty and bravery, embracing the ups and downs of stuttering and exploring the complexities and range of experiences stuttering brings. In those 3 weeks I witnessed a gift of freedom that was life-changing. By the end of the internship I knew it was a gift I had to give myself.
I enrolled in the Intensive program the next summer. Completely immersed in facing my fears, I felt freer than I ever had before. I challenged everything I knew about communication. I rediscovered, re-experienced and redefined my stuttering. I owned my stutter and ran with it. It was terrifying, overwhelming, exhilarating and empowering all at the same time.
AIS took me home. I landed on the ground as a stronger, more joyful, effective and empowered communicator. My voice was free, my mind was clear, my spirit at ease.
Today I continue to walk forth with my mission: supporting others in discovering their voice and celebrating the freedom that comes from living fearlessly and speaking freely.
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 and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.