Selective Mutism Therapy in Calgary and Cochrane

What is selective mutism?

Selective mutism is the fear of speaking to others. Selective mutism starts early in life. Contributing factors may include lack of validation, lack of positive communication, and experiencing aggression or neglect. When children are silenced, put down or mocked, they internalize their feelings and refuse to communicate with others in an effort to prevent embarrassment. 

How do I know if my child suffers from selective mutism?

Children who experience selective mutism may communicate normally with people they feel safe with such as children their age and family members. However, the child will refuse to communicate with a specific parent, caregiver, or authority figure. 

How can I support my child when they are afraid to speak?

  • Assure the child that they are safe to communicate with others
  • Validate them when they express concern about the person they do not feel safe with
  • Support gradual exposure to different environments 
  • Encourage the child’s interaction with others in various situations

How do I know if my child needs counselling?

Selective mutism is a result of fear the child develops in early childhood. The longer this fear is left untreated, the stronger it grows until it becomes debilitating. Seek support as soon as you notice the child’s lack of engagement and communication with others.

Will my child outgrow selective mutism without therapy?

No. Children develop selective mutism when they feel threatened by authority figures and/or are silenced and shamed. They also develop low self-esteem and anxiety which can prevent them from living a full life. 

What happens if my child does not receive therapy?

Lack of treatment may increase the child’s vulnerability to intrusive mental health issues. Treatment is imperative for children experiencing selective mutism.