6th September 2022
Meet James Davies, our new Patron. James is an osteopath who has treated many famous names and his new book 'Body' comes out today. Here tells us how he learned to not let fears of stammering stop him from following his passion. Watch our inspiring interview with James too, below.
I have a stammer. I have had one all my life. I didn't get bullied for it at school, but people did laugh at me. I only saw a speech therapist a couple of times when I was around six, and I believed it was something I would struggle with all my life.
Over time I started to stammer less. I was able to read aloud and talk freely. I didn't know it at the time, but I turned from an overt stammerer to a covert one. I tried to hide my stammer for over twenty-five years and got pretty good at it. I devised methods to work around my stammer, such as avoiding words I couldn't pronounce or articulate at certain times or in a particular environment. At times I couldn't find a replacement word, which meant the person I was talking to realised that I struggled with words.
I was worried that in the big wide world, people might think that I was unintelligent because I was slow in my speech. But through hard work and perseverance, I managed to go to university and study to be an osteopath. After that, I built a successful practice and finally achieved my dream of working as a therapist at two Olympics and treating the best athletes in track and field, alongside people such as David Beckham, Joe Wicks and Kylie Minogue.
Finding ways to manage
I am living proof that anything is possible. I managed to follow my passion and not let my stammer become a stumbling block in my career.
However, at times my stammer stopped me from taking all the opportunities that were presented to me. My fear of public speaking grew over many years, so I became very good at turning down any media work because I didn't want to stammer to the world.
I managed to follow my passion and not let my stammer become a stumbling block in my career... However, at times my stammer stopped me from taking all the opportunities that were presented to me.
Working as an Osteopath, I learnt about the anatomy, physiology and treatment of all the structures linked to our voice. So, I did manage to self-treat muscles connected to my vocal cords and learnt different ways of stimulating nerves to help increase my fluency. This, alongside singing, breathwork, ice baths and saunas, helped me manage my stammer but not in a way that I could always relax when meeting new people or clients.
Facing my fear
My approach to my stammer changed when I decided to write a book. It was a unique opportunity, but I knew I would have to start giving talks and interviews about my work. I knew then that it was time to face my fear of speaking in public. So, more than twenty-five years after those first speech therapy lessons, I decided to get some professional help.
In the first session, the speech & language therapist suggested I enrol on a six-month stammering course at City Lit in London. Following her advice was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I met people struggling with the same speech issues I experience daily. I also identified my type of stammer, a covert one, and I learnt modification techniques to help with it.
The course helped me not to feel ashamed of having a stammer and allowed me not to worry as much. This had been my main problem. I used to worry that someone would find out I had a stammer or if someone was going to laugh at me, which of course, impacted the chance of my stammering.
The course has made me more confident in giving interviews, public speaking, and any form of social interaction through speech. For my new book, Body, I have been giving interviews about it several times a week. I seek them out. It's a book that helps people manage pain, prevent injury and live pain-free into their older years. It’s a book with a core message of wanting to help people. For it to reach a wider audience, I must speak about it whenever I can, just as I want to help people like me who are living with a stammer.
I am honoured that STAMMA has asked me to be a patron. This means so much to me as I want to build awareness of stammering so it is accepted as just a difference, and also enable access to therapies for those who want them.
James's book 'Body: Simple techniques and strategies to heal, reset and restore', published by HQ, is available now from all the major outlets. Watch the video interview below, where it talks more about his career choice, what the book's all about and what it's like to work with big name celebrities.
You can follow James on social media using the following:
City Lit is one is one of a number of establishments offering courses for people who stammer. Read more about the range of options on our Therapy & Courses section.
(Photos courtesy of George Brobbey)