Selective Mutism

Dr. Eckel has been treating children with selective mutism since 2004. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Selective Mutism Association and has presented on selective mutism treatment at professional conferences.

In treating children with selective mutism, Dr. Eckel works with parents and children, and collaborates with schools, pediatricians, therapists, and others. Below is the information on services available:

Intensive Treatment

Dr. Eckel is the co-founder of Freedom Camp, an intensive treatment program for children with selective mutism. Please see the website for dates and locations.

Parent Support Groups

Parent support groups are a way in which parents of children with selective mutism can meet, discuss and share information. Please contact Dr. Eckel for upcoming dates.

Child Evaluation and Treatment

The evaluation and treatment of selective mutism involves several stages. All treatment is individualized to the particular child and family. Services include some or all of the following, depending on the needs of the child and family.

Initial Parent Meeting: This is a 1.5 to 2 hour initial parent-only meeting. The purpose of this session is to discuss the parent’s concerns, the child’s history, and current functioning. This meeting also includes discussion about further evaluation of the child, education on selective mutism, resources, and recommendations for next steps.

School Observation: A school observation is often recommended in the evaluation process. Observations provide information about how and to whom the child is communicating, and how others are working with the child at school. The information obtained through the observation helps to guide the school-based treatment plan. This option is discussed during the first parent meeting.

Treatment with Child: Child treatment can take place in a variety of locations, depending on the needs of the child. Treatment is approached from an evidence-based perspective using aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy, desensitization, shaping, stimulus fading, and educating the child about anxiety and selective mutism. Each child has different needs, and treatment is specifically tailored for each individual child.

Treatment Plan: An individualized treatment plan is created, including specific steps to be used in the community, at home, at school, and in other locations.

Meeting with School Personnel: Education about selective mutism is important to provide to schools, as this is often the place that children have the most difficulty. When educated about the selective mutism diagnosis and treatment approach, teachers and other school personnel are better able to implement suggested strategies.

Follow-Up Parent Meetings: Regular parent meetings serve to evaluate progress, talk about next steps, and decide on treatment planning.

School Trainings: Trainings on selective mutism are available and geared specifically toward school personnel including teachers, speech pathologists, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, support staff and other school professionals. These trainings include education on selective mutism, ideas for school based interventions, strategies for 504s and IEPs, and any additional information requested by the school.

In-School Intensive Treatment: Some children benefit from intensive treatment in the school environment. This mode of treatment can be provided when appropriate. More details can be obtained in the initial parent meeting.

Community Intensive Treatment: Treatment can take place in community settings when appropriate for the specific child.

Parent Training: Parents are given in depth information about selective mutism, working with their child, understanding their own behavior as parents of a selectively mute child, talking to others about selective mutism, working with schools, and other aspects of the treatment process.

Group Intensive Treatment: Small group and larger group intensive treatment programs are available and can be discussed as options in the treatment plan. Children can also attend Freedom Camp during the summer.

Travel: For those families that live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, consultation is available through a variety of methods. Dr. Eckel also offers services outside of the Bay Area through travel to the area in which the child and family live. Please contact Dr. Eckel for more details about options for treatment.