The Truth about the McGuire Program and Other Programs



There are two web sites, which purport to expose the McGuire Program for the Recovery from Stammering as a dangerous cult and are warning existing and prospective participants to the Program to stay away from it.

One of these web sites is anonymous while the other belongs to Mr. David Rose ( Have a look and press Back to return to this site. The anonymous site moves around from one web provider to the next. I therefore cannot post the web address but will do so as soon as it reappears.

Let me spend a bit of time to expose this sad group of people as liars

Stammering Therapies and Criticism

I would like to set the story straight for people who want to consider stammering therapies such as the McGuire Program.

It would be easier if a cure for stammering existed but sadly that is not the case. As a result, there are lots of programs and each has supporters and critics. In truth, they have helped some people and not others. This is true of the McGuire Program as it is true of others. Perhaps on average the McGuire Program treats mild stammerers better that severe stammerers. I am a mild stammerer and I found the Program to be very good for me. This said, I have many friends who were severe stammerers and who equally have had excellent results. I read in the e mail groups people commenting about other programs and in every case opinion is divided between those who are happy with a therapy and those who are not. Perhaps other therapies would be excellent for me too, but I have not tried them. I tried some which were expensive and useless.

My point is that there is nothing wrong with professional criticism of a particular technique or approach to stammering. There is something very wrong and unethical about portraying a particular therapy as a fascist organisation or a cult, based on "anonymous" testimonials.

These people claim to be afraid to give their names because they fear violence from the "McGuire cult". What a load of rubbish! They do not give their names because they are fakes. If the "person" who had to sacrifice his three children's holiday money to come on a course can overcome his fear of violence and give me his name, I will personally repay him the GBP 600 he spent.


What is the McGuire Program being accused of?

These websites makes several assertions in addition to general allegations of dishonesty:

It is an evil cult which controls its members

It plagiarises other methods

It does not tolerate failure and therefore people who "fail" the Program are scarred for life

It makes too much money and preys on vulnerable people

The dropout rate is higher than what it advertises

The program needs to keep people in order to survive financially

What is the McGuire Program?

The courses have been filmed extensively for TV. There is nothing secret about them.

It is a series of intensive courses. These courses are taught by an instructor who is assisted by people who have previously gone through the courses, accompanied by continuous practice over 4 days

You are assigned a coach who follows your progress after the first course

The technique which is taught is based on: A physical technique based on using the costal diaphragm; Mental techniques based on concentration and positive thinking; Desensitisation techniques such as voluntary stammering.

None of these techniques are original to the McGuire Program and all the material is duly acknowledged - what is original is the combination of these techniques and the use of a network of support.

It is a fee-paying program where those running it receive money for their efforts and time. Many of these instructors and coaches have to take holiday time to run the courses or work part time for the program. There is a fee of GBP600 for the first course and GBP30 max for any subsequent course: this money is divided between the course instructor, the individual coaches, the program director and David McGuire. Contrary to what is stated in these web sites, there are costs in administering the courses, namely the travel costs for the instructor, hotel rooms for some of the coaches, etc. For everyone's information, McGuire's fee is 25% out of which he pays for his travel and for the training of coaches and instructors. He is available to anybody like any other coach and spends most of his time training coaches.

None one has become rich on this. I am not familiar with McGuire's finances but on the basis of 500 paying new participants a year, this equates to GBP75,000 of gross income, out of which McGuire must pay his running costs, Dutch income taxes, travel, subsidy to new courses (for example, an entire course was run in the US free of charge and McGuire subsidised air fares for coaches). If you are self-employed with that level of gross income, you know your net earnings and much less at the end of the day and certainly not the vast amounts alluded to by these critics.

There are several points regarding money which are completely distorted by these critics:

Point 1: The GBP 600 entitles you to return to as many courses as you want. For example, I attend about one course a year, which I enjoy because I see old friends.

Point 2: No one has ever been excluded from the Program because of inability to pay

Point 3: These critics make it seem as though people become dependent on attending the courses and feeding the money machine - No one will become rich on charging GBP30 for 4 days to returning people! The whole idea is the recognition that no one-time intensive course has ever done much because simply people relapse. Only repeating application can reduce relapse.

Point 4: The other private therapies, which are run by people who have to live on it, are no cheaper. The US programs are more expensive. Del Ferro charges fees.


The cult issue

The Program is accused of having all the features of a cult. The main difference between a cult and the McGuire Program is that a cult is closed to non-members. The McGuire program is open to anyone to observe and comment. Everyone is welcome to attend courses.

One of these critics has researched the features of cults and claims the McGuire Program has all the essential characteristics. Let us review these:

Internal control, the amount of internal political power exercised by leader(s) over members: Many people who have been on McGuire courses talk about the politics and how all the power is in the hands of the few - course students always report a " Chiefs and Indians" or "them and us" atmosphere.

The Program is organised as courses are run with an instructor and assistants, like any course. To say these instructors have political power is wrong. They have the authority that comes with being in a teaching position.

The vast majority of participants come to these courses to work on their stammer, not to play power games.

Wisdom claimed by leader(s), the amount of infallibility declared about decisions: One of McGuire's favourite phrase is "my way or the highway", if anyone questions anything they are told we know by experience that if you don't follow instructions you will crash your speech will suffer.

I have been on the program for 3 years and this quote is a fabrication.

Like most intensive courses, the McGuire Program is largely based on the application of a single method for everybody - the coordination of several aspects of speaking - breathing, mental focusing, emotional focusing, etc...

This coordination requires training. To learn to pilot a plane, you have to follow instructions. Once you know how to pilot the plane, you can practice the acrobatics.

The program asks that you give your best shot at using the technique.

Wisdom credited to leader(s) by members: the amount of trust in decisions made by leader(s). You are constantly told by coaches on the McGuire Programme "We know we have been there , we know our way works"

The coaches are recovering stammerers themselves, so they speak from personal experience. For them, the specific techniques have worked.

The leader is not making decisions on behalf of course participants. He is teaching a technique.

If you hire a golf coach, you will expect him to believe in what he is teaching!

Dogma, the rigidity of reality concepts taught, the amount of doctrinal inflexibility: Any questioning of following the declared ways to the letter is deemed to be `intellectualisation' and stamped on swiftly.

The program is constantly reinventing itself through the input of ALL of its participants. There is a huge amount of discussion on the effectiveness of various techniques both at and between courses.

Recruiting, the emphasis put on attracting new members: the amount of proselytising. Graduates of the McGuire courses are told it's their duty to enrol more people, to give press interviews to attend and help organise open days, bombard chat groups such as this etc. to recruit more people.

This is incorrect. No one has a duty to do anything. Many graduates are enthusiastic about their progress and advertise it freely. Some are too enthusiastic and I recognize that this can be annoying. They can be insensitive to others and they should be told so at every opportunity.

All the programs advertise and have open days.

Front groups, the number of subsidiary groups using names different from that of the main group: Although McGuire set up main so called McGuire 'Institute' he was quick to split this up and form franchises in other countries and as in the case of the UK split between North and South.

The programs are administered by limited companies in each country. McGuire Institute is based in Holland and is therefore not able to operate outside of Holland.

All these companies have the same name (Freedoms Road) so the inference that they are there to hide something is totally wrong. The web site is called with both names so there is absolute transparency.

The UK is a large country and is administered in two parts - hence two companies. The accounts for these companies are available at Companies House in London.

Wealth, the amount of money and/or property desired or obtained: the degree of emphasis on members' donation: The vast amount of money `donated' by the unsuspecting students for the course, plus extra each return course is clear and total profit to the cult. The training facility comes free and the students pay their own accommodation on top of this.

Charging fees is hardly the sign of a cult. I do not call my dentist a cult, just expensive. The initial course fees support the remuneration of those who work part or full time on the program - organising courses, speaking to people wanting to attend courses, etc. In addition, coaches are paid to support a new student. The remuneration per hour is less than they would earn in most jobs and certainly less than SLPs.

The fee for the return courses is a maximum of GBP30. How can this be called "vast?"

No-one is asked to make donations in addition to their fees. I make donations to the British Stammering Association and I do not consider them as a cult.

Political power, the amount of external political influence desired or obtained: We are told in the W.W.W. stuttering chat groups that McGuire graduates are constantly being told not to criticise the cult.

It seems to me that no one is preventing the unhappy ones from having their say - witness these sites.

There are two groups of people - those who regularly participate in the program and would have no reason to criticize it in chat groups - and those who do not and have reasons to do so - and they do.

There are many people for whom the techniques taught in these courses have not worked. This is true of any program. These people have every right to say so and they do.

Sexual manipulation of members by leader(s); the amount of control of sex lives of members: When people have complained to D. McGuire that their involvement was having a bad effect on their marriage they have been told to "get their priorities right". "Speech comes first, your partner has no idea how important this is to you". These are actual quotes from people who have suffered this indignity

This is a gross distortion of the concept of the cult, which reveals the truly dishonest nature of those behind these allegations. It infers that the program leaders exercise sexual control over participants.

There is no doubt that attending a course can create a conflict in that the partner had other ideas for the week-end or believes that the other half spends too much time on his/her speech. I have experienced that myself.

The overwhelming majority of the other halves I have met have been truly delighted that their partner has better speech. Frankly, these people should be mature enough to decide for themselves where their priorities are and agree them with their partners.

Censorship, the amount of control over members' access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines, or its leader(s): You are told not to involve any other form of technique or `Externalisation' just follow instructions (orders).

It is important to understand that the costal breathing technique is not compatible with certain other techniques. It is not a matter of censorship, but that mixing techniques just does not work. It is a matter of doing one or the other.

On the other hand, there are many external programs, which are fully compatible and indeed are integrated at times as part of a course - Speaking Circles, John Harrison Seminars, NLP programs, etc...

Dropout control, the intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts: Dropouts are discouraged, anyone having `problems' with their speech is barred ( strongly discouraged ) from attending an open day designed to enrol more new people. If anyone really can't manage the method they are 'quitters' or 'don't want it bad enough'.

This is simply not true. What course instructors will say is that people should give the McGuire technique their best shot hopefully for 6 months and they are strongly assisted if they want to do so. If at the end of 6 months, there is no progress then perhaps the technique is not for them.

Endorsement of violence when used by or for the group or its leader(s). The group who have posted the mcguire truth web site are remaining anonymous as they are afraid of what the movement might do, in this type of situation -who can blame them.

I would say instead that these people are remaining anonymous for fear of being revealed as what they really are - running a rival program which can only survive by scaring people into joining them.

Paranoia, the amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies, the perceived power of opponents. The McGuire movement is always complaining that they are being attacked. McGuire himself cleverly uses this paranoia as he sets one person against another within the higher levels of his management team- constantly ruling by division. And when all else fails and someone fouls up on the job he is always there to sort it out !

The McGuire Program suffers the same criticisms as other intensive therapies, i.e. poor results, high costs, etc...

The "ruling by division" comment made here is a personal view.

Grimness, the amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines, or its leader(s). The whole atmosphere that pervades a McGuire course and the movement in general is Grimness. You are told that this is a serious business you have come for one purpose only. Friendship between fellow course students is banned. Most people do not realise the grimness until they have left the cult, then and only then do they feel free enough to crack jokes about the technique, the people involved etc. Many ex McGuire graduates talk about feeling relived and `happy' at last when they finally get off of Freedoms Road.

This is the argument of last resort, when all else fails. It could be a fun cult but it is not even that, they say.

The best is for people to come to a course and see for themselves. I have made close friends on the program. Others have met their partners there.

The partying is second to none.

There are two serious points to note: The course requires sustained concentration because a lot needs to be covered in a short time. It may be that this technique is not suited. In that case, a stammerer would be happy to stop using it



Mr. Rose and your friends, stop this bullshit. You are working on your selfish goals, not helping stammerers

David Moore [email protected]


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