Tis the season for reflecting, refining and adopting the new..

The Antoni Method

Educating, encouraging, empowering

In spite of my many years as a voice specialist speech and language therapist, rarely a day goes by when I do not have a thought about refining my voice work or an idea for a teaching course or a way of adapting an exercise to further help clients. 

The huge advantage of seeing a large volume and variety of clients, over 24 years of clinical practice, means the experience level of the clinician is very high. More experience in turn leads to developing effective therapy models and systems of practice which can be taught to other clinicians which in turn can benefit a much wider pool of clients. 

In December, I ran a condensed one day version of my Vital Voice course in Stamford Hill, London, which was adapted for a group of SLTs who work primarily with children. As for many course I run for SLTs, there was relief and satisfaction expressed by the participants for the level of practical voice exercises provided to and practiced with the therapists. The course content was rated as ‘excellent’ by all the attendees which I am proud to say is also my finding after running the two day course and the Working With Transgender Voice course’. It remains a concern for me that therapists often report that courses tend to feature too much on assessment and theory and very little on direct voice work. The latter is the reality of most voice clinician’s daily life – how to move beyond assessment and diagnosis which tends to be well taught in our training colleges and post graduate courses and move clients through their voice remediation / voice improvement/ voice modification process.

Experience level has also been one of the reasons I have been able to hone a progressive treatment hierarchy to assist the voice exercises to be habitualized by the client into their everyday voice. By far, the most questions that come up for me when I’m in a supervision session with an SLT are questions about:

i ) which voice exercises are best for the relevant condition they are working with 
ii) how to carry out direct voice exercises 
iii) how to progress the client beyond just the exercises

The above questions, in high and repeated volume indicated to me the most lacking areas in our training. What voice clinicians who seek my assistance tend to have a great grasp on are the indirect methods of voice work such as voice assessment and voice care, the latter often referred to as ‘vocal hygiene ‘ which includes the familiar aspects of keeping hydrated and avoiding laryngeal irritants and also principles such as breath support and initial voice exercises. For me, these serve as the basic foundations for the mid and advanced levels of work which is learning to extend the principles eventually into the client’s everyday Voice.

The physical elements of voice work run parallel to the emotional aspects of voice which involve personality factors too. Achieving successful voice outcomes with clients very often involves building confidence with clients – confidence in the exercises and trusting the process of voice change but also general confidence in the person. The latter may be especially true for shy and more introverted people and for clients who experience mild to severe levels of social anxiety. Since human Voice and communication are social phenomena, they are directly linked to social skills and interaction. 
In this sense, voice specialist SLTs, tend to work very holistically with clients, addressing wider areas of their lives such as stress and anxiety levels and the range of vocal contexts and challenges they face.  

It’s been busy… but help is at hand…

Most of you who attend for appointments with me will be aware that the clinic diary tends to be full. We advise all people seeking appointments to book their appointments, especially those on block packages in advance . Some relief in the system is underway with the appointment of two new associate SLT colleagues- Nikki Milojevic and Sophie Cooper. Any SLT that comes to work with me is specifically trained in the Antoni Method of voice work. This involves a period of direct observation, attending specific voice training courses, personal tuition with myself as well as ongoing direct supervision. This ensures the quality and consistency of the models of treatment. The core processes and exercises, at the relevant stage of treatment have been developed by myself and taught to the SLTs selected to work with me, providing consistency for both the client and the clinician. Nikki is now available for work on Wednesdays and Sophie works Fridays. In addition, both clinicians offer Sunday sessions.

Stepping into the light

As we pass through the winter solstice, I like to reflect that we are moving more and more into the light. There always seems to be something symbolic about this time of the year, the cusp of changing light just before we enter a new year.  
I hope more light brings more clarity to those seeking change. May your days ahead be merry and bright. And for the days that are challenging, as the song says, ‘we’ll have to muddle through somehow’: