Message on the occasion of Marilyn Langevin’s retirement from the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to send a message to Dr. Marilyn Langevin on the occasion of her retirement from the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) in Edmonton.

My message on the occasion of Marilyn Langevin’s retirement from ISTAR

I first met Dr. Marilyn Langevin when I attended a three-week ISTAR clinic in July 1987. Taking part in the clinic was a turning point in my life. In the close to thirty years that have followed, I have done well in maintaining my fluency, an achievement that has changed the trajectory of my life. I remember Marilyn from my visit to Edmonton in 1987.

From my perspective as a client, the process that I went through involved relearning how to speak. Marilyn and the other clinicians were distinguished, in my mind, by their skills as my teachers.

I recall something Marilyn said to us, at the very end of the clinic. She said that she had felt duty bound to push us really hard, to ensure we were applying the skills as specified. She said it was emotionally hard for her, to push clients that hard, but she did it because she knew that’s what she had to do. Her comment has stayed in mind for me.

Years later, I offered input, as an elementary teacher in Mississauga, Ontario during the time that Marilyn was in the final stages of developing the Teasing and Bullying: Unacceptable Behaviour (TAB) program. I met with Marilyn during her visit to Ontario and spoke with her about ways to decrease bullying of children who stutter and also about a new program for very young children who stutter.

At that point, some clinicians had adopted the new program and some very were hesitant to try it. In our conversation about the latter program, Marilyn remarked that she would change her clinical approach – would change what she was doing as a clinician – at once, without hesitation, if the evidence indicated that such a change would benefit her clients.

That is also a conversation that has also stayed in mind for me. I was aware that not every person has the capacity to change what she or he is doing, in response to new evidence; I was highly impressed that Marilyn had no hesitation about such a change, in line with what the evidence was telling her.

My visit to ISTAR in July 1987 and subsequent conversations in the years that followed had convinced me of the value of data, of evidence, and of evidence-based practice in any line of work. Marilyn’s comment further underscored for me the value of trusting the evidence.

Marilyn Langevin, along with Einer Boberg, Deborah Kully, Holly Lomheim, and other staff at ISTAR, has been among my most prized teachers. What they have taught me will always stay with me. I owe them many thanks. I wish Dr. Marilyn Langevin a productive, active, and enjoyable retirement and I’m pleased I’ve had the opportunity to stop for a moment, and gather my thoughts, regarding the highly positive and much appreciated impact she has had on my life.

[End of text]

Comments at Retirement Celebration for Dr. Marilyn Langevin

The following comments (I’ve broken some of the longer paragraphs into shorter ones), posted at the ISTAR website, offer an overview of Marilyn Langevin’s career as a speech-language pathologist and researcher:

We are here today to honour Dr. Marilyn Langevin’s 27 years of contributions to the University of Alberta through research, teaching and service, both in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) and at the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research.

Dr. Langevin has a long and varied history with CSD and ISTAR. She has been involved with ISTAR since its inception, first as a student and then in her roles as clinical coordinator, clinical director, Director of Research, and Acting Executive Director. She co-developed the Comprehensive Stuttering Program (CSP) for adolescents and adults as well as the CSP for School-age Children. She also developed Teasing and Bullying: Unacceptable Behaviour, which is a bullying prevention program that also educates students and teachers about stuttering.

Dr. Langevin has also had a longstanding relationship with the Department of CSD. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech-language pathology here. Since that time, she has continued to serve the department through teaching and supervision. As an adjunct or sessional instructor, she taught (or co-taught) the graduate course in Fluency Disorders up until 2001. She provided clinical education of speech-language pathology (SLP) students from the University of Alberta and elsewhere, and supervised or co-supervised 6 master’s students in 3 capstone projects.

Then she went off to Australia to get her PhD. When she came back, Dr. Langevin joined the CSD faculty as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment at ISTAR. Her primary responsibilities were in the area of research, therefore her teaching responsibilities were limited to guest lectures and graduate student research supervision. She has supervised 5 master’s thesis students and 26 master’s students in 8 capstone projects. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2013.

Over the years, Dr. Langevin has touched the lives of countless students and clients, and been an important part of the history of both ISTAR and CSD. Her work has also had an important influence in our field.

Dr. Langevin is recognized internationally as a leader in research into the social impact of stuttering on pre-school and school-age children and teasing and bullying experienced by children who stutter. Dr. Langevin’s work in these areas has changed clinical practice around the world. In her visionary anti-bullying work, Dr. Langevin developed an educational program that aims to prevent bullying for all children.

This program has been used by educators and speech-language pathologists across Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa and Europe and is currently being translated into Polish. Dr. Langevin recently spent 3 months working with colleagues at the University of Sydney on further research into disturbed social interaction during the early years of stuttering.

Dr. Langevin has also contributed seminal research that has provided the evidence-base for the school-age, teen, and adult stuttering treatment programs that she and colleagues developed at ISTAR. In particular, the Comprehensive Stuttering Program for Adolescents and Adults (CSP) is the most well researched treatment program in the field.

Because of the evidence base for the CSP and the excellence of the CSP clinical training program for students ISTAR is a sought out practicum site for students from CSD at the University of Alberta, and other Canadian, US, and European Universities. Dr. Langevin established international relations with speech-language training programs in the Netherlands and Sweden.

It is notable that prior to obtaining her PhD (2007), Dr. Langevin was a clinical scientist when leading research was not a requirement of her clinical positions at ISTAR.

In 2011 Dr. Langevin received the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine Excellence in Research Award. In 2010 Dr. Langevin received the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology Editor’s award for 2009. An article selected for an Editor’s Award is one that meets the highest quality standards in research design, presentation, and impact for a given year. The article was on peer responses to stuttering in the preschool setting, and is one of the articles that came from her dissertation research.

As mentioned earlier, Dr. Langevin has mentored students in the completion of MScSLP capstone projects and thesis research. She has also mentored post-doctoral fellows and clinical staff at ISTAR in research, making the interface between research and clinical practice a reality.

Also, through the founding of the ISTAR-Alberta Network for Fluency in 2009, Dr. Langevin was among the first in CSD to use internet-based technologies to provide speech-language pathologists from across Alberta (and now across Canada) with lectures from experts in the field on research and clinical developments in the field of fluency. More recently, she established an interdisciplinary initiative in which SLP students engage with students in educational psychology.

With regard to service, Dr. Langevin has served on CSD and faculty committees and acted as Executive Director of ISTAR from 2010-2012. In that capacity she was responsible for oversight of the clinical programs, fund development, communications, human resource, financial and all other administrative responsibilities.

Although Dr. Langevin retired on December 31, 2015, her relationships with ISTAR and CSD are ongoing. She currently holds an adjunct appointment in CSD, and has a long list of ongoing research projects and collaborations that she hopes to complete over the next few years.

So, although she has “retired,” she will continue to have an important influence on us, and on the field, for many years to come.

by Karen E. Pollock
Chair, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders
May 17, 2016

[End of text]

A video that sums up my own encounters with stuttering

Some years ago I put together a video, talking about how I relearned how to speak, entitled: Stuttering – A Listener’s Guide (see link below). It may be noted that what has worked for me will not work for all people who stutter, because of how our brains happen to be wired.

Much of what I know about community self-organizing I learned during my twenty years of volunteer work on behalf of people who stutter and their families. The work, which I found highly gratifying and enjoyable, was conducted at the local, national, and international levels. I learned many valuable skills related to organizing of events, founding of organizations, media relations, and public education during those years.

After the above-noted twenty years of volunteer work, I’ve spent the past ten years in volunteer work in my local community.



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