HomePhilippine Journal of Psychologyvol. 43 no. 2 (2010)

Hits and Misses: Interventions in a Case of Selective Mutism

Karina Galang Fernandez

Discipline: Psychology, Child Development



A child diagnosed with Selective Mutism misses out on several developmental tasks including social interaction and academic growth, which are a significant part of childhood. Psychological literature based on particular theoretical models suggests a range of therapeutic strategies to deal with this specific anxiety disorder. A case of a six-year-old girl is discussed for whom a series of interventions were employed. Exploratory findings appear to indicate that therapies such as art and puppet therapy are not effective because such approaches require self-expression from the child, which in theory is precisely what is painful for a selective mute. On the other hand, other strategies are found to be effective, with each strategy contributing uniquely to ameliorating particular symptoms. Specifically, physically vigorous play therapy reduces anxiety symptoms, while computer-based interventions appear to be successful in increasing verbal behavior. The theoretical foundations for the different strategies utilized are also discussed.