Why Use Untested Methods?

By Pam Marshalla

ASHA EBP TriangleQ: I have been told not to attend your seminars because you teach methods that have not been tested. I am new to the profession and am confused. Why do you feel it is appropriate to use and to teach methods that have never been tested?

The simplest way I can answer this question (answered before here) is to quote another writing duo:

“Clinicians’ imaginations conjure up exercises, techniques, procedures, and approaches, which are first tried on a few patients, then applied to larger numbers, then described with numbers. If they are deemed successful, someone undertakes to apply scientific standards to the experimentation, with appropriate controls and isolation of variables” (Hanson and Barrett, 1988, p. 12).

Many of the methods I use have not achieved that final status yet… But they will.

Eventually there will be professors who are not closed to the ideas I teach, and they will design research projects to test them. Until then I simply will keep teaching what I know from my clinical experiences so that other SLPs such as yourself can benefit.

By the way, the methods advocated by Van Riper beginning with his first book in 1939 were not tested until the mid to late 1970s. That means that he taught other therapists to use his methods for 30-40 years before there was any “proof” of their validity. I see my work in the same vein.

Finally: Clinical expertise is one-third of evidence-based practice. See my other posts about evidence-based practice here.


5 thoughts on “Why Use Untested Methods?”

  1. 😀 Excellent response, Pam! And for the person asking the ?, I started using Pam’s techniques after I took a 2 day seminar back in 1994. As I clinician, I have found all the tricks of the trade she taught then and later, very effective and without fail. As a graduate student of the mid-70’s, there were many things that weren’t explored and yes, Van Riper had still hadn’t achieved notoriety yet, but that was the approach we were taught. The world has changed but the oral cavity has not. Even after over 37 years as a licensed SLP, I can still learn from others and go beyond the text books and research. While driving, I have come up with some of my best therapy techniques that have never been presented, or tested, but they work! If you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to open your mind to something that has no research, you put yourself in a box. I have always been an outside of the box clinician and have been successful in my field. I am ‘imi ‘ike…(seeker of knowledge). If someone is willing to share, you’re darn right I’ll be there to listen and put it to the test. Don’t be afraid because fear will keep you closed and stunt your growth…you won’t be sorry if do this, but you WILL regret if you don’t! With Aloha, Genie

  2. I agree with Pam and Genie. As a Speech Pathologist who has worked in the field for 30 years, I have attended many of Pam Marshalla’s workshops and have found them to be incredibly helpful. I have to admit that at first I was not so sure about using oral motor techniques but after implementing her clinical strategies, I have found success with many clients and see the value in utilizing oral motor techniques, where appropriate. As far as only working with research-based therapy, I feel that you can find research to back anything that you want but that it does not always mean that it is the only way to do something. The key to being a successful Speech Pathologist is to keep an open mind and to try new techniques. If a technique doesn’t work one day for a specific client, it doesn’t mean it won’t work another day. The same goes for different clients. Some techniques work for some clients but not others. Attend one of Pam’s workshops and be a judge for yourself if her techniques work for you and your clients. I would be very surprised if you didn’t learn something new worth trying. The ball is in your hands. A Pam Marshalla fan, Donna

  3. I am a 18 year school based therapist, I’ve seen Pam in person once and watched several conferences online at Video Ce TV…in the world of political correctness, her ideas brought me back to the basics and common sense! I have had more success on difficult r cases and lateral lisping than ever. bottom line the techniques worked with several on my caseload that were not progressing…so I will keep using her ideas in my bag of tricks!

  4. I am an 18 year vet to the business and agree with all the comments said already. I’ve been to a couple of Pam’s workshops and always come away not only feeling validated for how I practice (wanting to blurt out “I’ve tried that too!”), but also come away with more good ideas to try.

    1. Thank you, Kim. My next book– “The Marshalla Guide” — will demonstrate how most of my techniques are old ones that Van Riper and hundreds of other old-time therapists used all the time. Van Riper called them “Phonetic placement methods”. It also will show how all modern speech movement research supports them.

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