Politician Femke Merel van Kooten overcame stuttering

Stottertherapie en ademtraining met de Del Ferro methode

Jeroen of The Telegraph interviews on-camera politician Femke Merel van Kooten, who used to be hugely bullied with stuttering but managed to overcome it.

Jeroen attended a therapy session at the Del Ferro Institute which has devised its own method to get rid of stuttering.

Jeroen, interviewer:

It is world stutter day and so we are at the institute that has developed a method to get rid of this. And we met, among others, with politician Femke Merel van Kooten. She too used to stutter, and she too got rid of it. World stutter day, why is it so important?

Ingrid Del Ferro, owner Del Ferro Institute:

World Stuttering Day is important because we would like to show that stuttering really can be overcome. You don’t have to learn to live with it. Anyone can get rid of stuttering. And for that, World Stutter Day is unique in making this message clear.

Femke Merel van Kooten, Del Ferro Institute ambassador:

You also miss a lot of social contacts. Often, people who stutter become very introverted, wanting to avoid speaking. Making friendships when you stutter very much is not really possible.


So it’s actually a very unique story; that you stutter in your youth and make it to politics.

Femke Merel van Kooten:

Yes that for sure, I also think it is important to show, I have been hiding the problem away for a very long time. Stuttering was really a black page in my childhood, I didn’t want to face that anymore.


How do you mean tucked away? You weren’t talking about it anymore?

Femke Merel van Kooten:

Yes, I wanted to be reminded of it as little as possible, because it really has been an unpleasant period in my life. I got rid of it at the age of 12 through the Del Ferro method.

Ingrid Del Ferro:

The Del Ferro method is based on training the diaphragm muscle, or respiratory muscle. This muscle, and this has been scientifically proven, makes irregular movements in people who stutter. Training with us is mainly aimed at getting this muscle to function smoothly. Making people completely fluent from the first day of the course! A lesson situation is then filmed.


Can you explain for a child, how bad is stuttering?

Femke Merel van Kooten:

It gives a huge crunch to your self-confidence. And that tension you experience every time you speak builds more and more. Until it gets really bad and also the stuttering gets worse but also the bullying.


You have been bullied? How far did that go?

Femke Merel van Kooten:

Yes, I have been bullied a lot. This went very far. The most extreme example is; that a little boy said, this bullet is for your pony. We are going to shoot you dead too. A few days later, the same boy came with an alarm pistol. Fortunately, the teacher saw this quickly and it was taken away immediately.


How old were you then?

Femke Merel van Kooten:

I was 12 at the time. It was just before the summer holidays, at the end of grade 8. It was then also decided that I did not need to attend the last few weeks before the holidays more.


Just the fact that your primary school was closed so abruptly is traumatic.

Femke Merel van Kooten:

Absolutely, luckily I didn’t suffer from stuttering in high school anymore. So for me, I got rid of the problem just in time. There are also people who have stuttered all their lives, those people get a switch of disappointments; they cannot get the education they actually want to do. They cannot find the partner they would actually prefer if they were more extroverted. And above all, be who they actually are, without the stuttering. Because again: You can’t be who you are if you stutter. So the problem has such a huge impact on a person’s life.


Is there still a taboo as far as you are concerned?

Femke Merel van Kooten:

People who stutter do often get ridiculed, And that is very sad.
A lesson situation is shown.

Jeroen asks a student:

What did you get out of the lesson here?

Student Mark.

I got a lot out of the lessons. These classes help me get rid of stuttering.


What you are doing now, checking your breathing just before you answer. You take a moment for yourself. Can you describe what you do then? After I ask a question?

Course participant Mark:

I first think of the sentence I want to say and repeat that sentence in my head. Then I picture my diaphragm, in my head and confirm this by giving a nod with my head. Then I take a deep breath and speak on an exhale.


High five!

Question for Femke Merel van Kooten: Has there been a moment when you thought, wow it worked. Look at how it’s coming off now.

Femke Merel van Kooten:

That was at the swearing-in ceremony!

This article is a transcript of the video that appeared on The Telegraph’s website on 22 October 2023

A great experience for our students. You never get used to it. Do you also want to live stutter-free?

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