About me: I qualified as a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) from University College London (UCL) in 2012 and worked in mainstream primary and secondary schools across deprived areas of south and east London before beginning my PhD. My clinical interest areas are stammering and speech sound disorders. I completed my MSc in Neuroscience at UCL, working with Professor Peter Howell to explore the impact of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) alongside fluency shaping therapy approaches on speech fluency in adults who stammer, for my dissertation. I have a particular passion for relating my clinical experiences and research work to policy development in order to influence policy-makers, and have held several positions in political and policy organisations. Consequently, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working at the charity, Action for Stammering, as part of my doctorate to support their policy work and outreach.

My research: My PhD will seek to explore the relationship between stammering and mental health disorders in children who stammer. Current provision for adolescents who present as persistent stammerers often involves psychological approaches to aid self-esteem and tackle social anxiety. However, it remains unclear as to whether there is a relationship between stammering and mental health, and the nature of this relationship if it exists. This research aims to investigate whether children who stammer also present with specific social, emotional and mental health profiles, to aid our understanding of the likelihood of developing issues with mental health in later life.

The difference my research makes: Children and adolescents who stammer face challenges in social situations in which there is typically a high demand on verbal communication. This research aims to inform clinical understanding of the relationship between stammering and mental health, in order to aid best practice in early stammering approaches.

Supervisors: Professor Courtenay Norbury

Pathway: Linguistics

Location: UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences

Tel: +44(0)7891 023214

Email: ria.bernard@ucl.ac.uk

Twitter: RiaB_22