A psychogenic voice disorder can occur when a person is under a high amount of emotional stress, such as a response to anxiety or ‘conflict when speaking out’. The voice may sound hoarse, strained, very soft or even higher-pitched. Sometimes the voice can go completely which is also referred to as ‘conversion disorder’.

I have worked with a range of patients that have had dysphonia’s linked to high emotional stress. One patient that sticks in my mind is a 38 year old lady who was referred to me talking in a whisper. She was a teacher and had been signed-off from work for the past three weeks as she was unable to perform her job. This caused her a great deal of anxiety as she feared financial insecurity for the future.

During our first session we worked on getting her vocal folds together using a range of facilitative techniques. Once she was able to achieve this, we targeted extending these sounds and then built them to words and phrases. She left the session being able to speak again which was a huge step for her. Subsequent sessions worked on gaining more smooth and natural voice. We also targeted vocal projection and explored the emotional stress she encountered prior to her dysphonia in order to have strategies to deal with this in the future. She returned to work following three sessions of voice therapy and returned to her full duties within a month of starting her therapy.

The symptoms of a psychogenic voice disorder can often be a way of your body letting you know that something in your life is not right or out of balance. We should pay attention to these symptoms without becoming anxious and seek ways to help or regain the balance in our lives.