Parent-Child Interactive Therapy Can Help Kids With Selective Mutism

According to a recent study, PCIT (Parent-child interaction therapy) is an effective way to deal with selective mutism in children.

Selective mutism is a complex anxiety disorder generally seen in children. Symptoms typically include a child’s inability to effectively communicate or speak in social environments like day-cares and schools. However, they are still able to talk or communicate in scenarios which they deem as comfort zones, where they are much relaxed and feel secure. Most of the times, selective mutism is accompanied by social phobia or anxiety.

A study published by the Journal of Anxiety Disorders Parent concludes that Child interaction therapy (PCIT) is a very effective way to fight selective mutism in children. Children suffering from selective mutism from a Vancouver British Columbia hospital were made to participate in a 16-week long PCIT session. These sessions included the parents of the respective child and a therapist. The speaking patterns and the language competency of the kids were captured.

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Significant improvement was noted in children at the 3 and 12 months follow up visits. Improvements were also reported from parents’ domain which included schools, family gatherings, and social community programs.

Moreover, the data highlights the efficacy and acceptability of PCIT-informed treatment for selective mutism. Data generalizability may be limited by small sample size (31 children) and nonrandomized study design. Even so, providers may find these results useful in designing treatment for youths and families affected by selective mutism.

The main objective of PCIT is to lower the anxiety levels, increase self-confidence, and also imbibe the element of self-esteem in the kids. Treatment of mutism is highly individualized and is used in a combination of the following approaches.

Behavioral Therapy: Progressive desensitization and an element of positive reinforcements are the best-recommended way.

Social Communication Anxiety Therapy: This approach is formulated and implemented by Selective Mutism, Anxiety, and Related Disorders Treatment Center (SMart Center). It includes the development of a plan with a strong focus on the child.


via: popsugar.com

Psychotherapy: This module emphasizes helping the child to relax and express their ideas. Empathy with the child addressing their fear of speaking is found to be very useful as it relieves the child from the virtual pressure.

Administration of drugs: Generally, a combination of behavioural techniques and the administration of drugs are the most effective treatment for selective mutism. Drugs like Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help reduce anxiety levels.

Self Esteem Booster: Parents should encourage more and more positive qualities in the child. This helps in building confidence and also promotes social speaking.

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Kids need a stress-free and cherishable childhood to grow to lead a better future. We must realize the symptoms of Selective Mutism and with due diligence, follow proper diagnosis and treatment - the prognosis for overcoming this challenge.

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