Counselling and Therapy for Selective Mutism in children and teenagers

Selective Mutism in children and teenagers

A lot of children feel shy and experience difficulties in interacting with new people in public and social settings, and it is not uncommon for some older children or teenagers to experience social anxiety, shutting off from others in unfamiliar settings.

However, for some young people, their anxiety reaches debilitating levels and causes a much bigger issue, disrupting their ability to speak at all or communicate effectively in certain settings. A child with Selective Mutism will often talk to select people and in some places, but not in others, for example in school. It is important to note that these children can communicate well in settings where they are comfortable and relaxed, such as at home with their family.

Selective Mutism is associated with social anxiety and usually begins in preschool years before a child is five-years-old. However, people may not fully notice it until the child enters school, where there is an increased need to socially interact and complete tasks with other people.

If you have observed your child experiencing high anxiety and an inability to speak or communicate in certain settings, clinical psychology therapy for anxiety could help. Effective talking therapies such as CBT, used by highly experienced clinicians, are available in our clinic in the North West London area and online.

Selective mutism

How do I know if my child or teenager has Selective Mutism?

The most common presenting symptom of Selective Mutism is that the child will be highly anxious and completely mute in certain settings such as school, whilst speaking comfortably at home or with close friends; this anxiety can disrupt many aspects of your child’s social life. Most symptoms of Selective Mutism can be attributed to anxiety.

You might notice that your son or daughter is exhibiting the following:

  • Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations where there is an expectation for speaking, despite speaking in other situations.
  • Nervous, uneasy, or socially awkward
  • Rude, disinterested, or sulky
  • Clingy
  • Shy and withdrawn
  • Stubborn or aggressive, having temper tantrums upon return from school or when questioned by parents
  • Sensory processing delays or difficulties

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Eye contact avoidance
  • Stiff and tense posture
  • Poor coordination

Selective Mutism left untreated can cause a significant interruption to your child’s social life and can negatively impact your home life. Peer relationships and academic performance may also deteriorate. Seeking help is the best way to combat Selective Mutism, so please get in touch if you believe your child struggles with any of the above symptoms.

How can I help my child or teenager with Selective Mutism?

If you have noticed the above symptoms in your child, we recommend you get in touch to book a free telephone consultation.

As a parent, it can be distressing to watch your child or teenager struggle with Selective Mutism. The good news is there are evidence-based, modern, and effective counselling and therapy methods for anxiety available in North West London with Harwood Child Psychology. Our approach of using only rigorously tested and NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) approved treatments dramatically increases the chance of seeing real improvements in your child.

At Harwood Child Psychology, we offer effective therapies to help your child understand their worries and learn the necessary relaxation techniques to help them gain control of their anxiety and mutism.

In line with national scientific guidelines, CBT at Harwood Child Psychology is conducted with your child alongside family and school involvement. As a parent, you can follow your child’s progress and help them develop Challenge-Test-Reward skills to manage their Selective Mutism.

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Parents always want to help their child overcome their Selective Mutism, but may inadvertently perpetuate their worries, making the situation worse through their efforts to help. To overcome this, we ensure that parents are always involved in the treatment at Harwood Child Psychology to make sure everyone is working together effectively.

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We offer cost-effective, evidence-based treatment with a highly qualified clinical psychologist. You can be sure that your child or teenager is in safe hands. We pride ourselves on a high quality, warm and compassionate service that can help your son or daughter overcome their anxiety.

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Harwood Child Psychology provides engaging and effective therapy for anxiety in Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Highgate, Hampstead, Finchley and the wider North West London area.

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