Best Practices in Assessment and Intervention for Childhood Selective Mutism


Zakszeski, B. (2018). Best practices in assessment and intervention for childhood selective mutism. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 44, 109–116.


Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder most likely to occur during pivotal periods of early development.  Effective assessment and early intervention for selective mutism are crucial to a child’s functioning and well-being, in both the short and long term.  This article reviews best-practice recommendations regarding assessment and intervention for supporting children with selective mutism.

Registrants can read the full article on


American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: Author.

Bergman, R. L. (2012). Treatment for children with selective mutism. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Bergman, R. L., Piacentini, J., & McCracken, J. T. (2002). Prevalence and description of selective mutism in a school-based sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 41, 938–946. doi:10.1097/00004583-200208000-00012

Cohan, S. L., Chavira, D. A., Shipon-Blum, E., Hitchcock, C., Roesch, S. C., & Stein, M. B. (2008). Refining the classification of children with selective mutism: A latent profile analysis. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 370–384. doi:10.1080/15374410802359759

Conners, C. K. (2009). Conners Early Childhood manual. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Elizur, Y., & Perednik, M. (2003). Prevalence and description of selective mutism in immigrant and native families: A controlled study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 42, 1451–1459. doi:10.1097/00004583-200312000-00012

Gensthaler, A., Maichrowitz, V., Kaess, M., Ligges, M., Freitag, C. M., & Schwenck, C. (2016). Selective mutism: The fraternal twin of childhood social phobia. Psychopathology, 9, 95–107. doi:10.1159/000444882

Hua, A., & Major, N. (2016). Selective mutism. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 28, 114–120. doi:10.1097/MOP.0000000000000300

Kehle, T. J., & Bray, M. A. (2009). Self-modeling. In A. Akin-Little, S. Little, M. A. Bray, & T. J. Kehle (Eds.), Behavioral intervention in schools: Evidence-based positive strategies (pp. 231-244). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.

Kotrba, A. (2015). Selective mutism: An assessment and intervention guide for therapists, educators, and parents. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing & Media.

March, J. S. (2013). Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children–2nd edition: Technical manual. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Muris, P., Hendriks, E., & Bot, S. (2016). Children of few words: Relations among selective mutism, behavioral inhibition, and (social) anxiety symptoms in 3- to 6-year-olds. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 47, 94–101. doi:10.1007/s10578-015-0547-x

Oerbeck, B., Johansen, J., Lundahl, K., & Kristensen, H. (2011). Selective mutism: A home- and kindergarten-based intervention for children 3–5 years: A pilot study. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 370–383. doi:10.1177/1359104511415174

Remschmidt, H., Poller, M., Herpetz-Dahlmann, B., Hennighausen, K., & Gutenbrunner, C. (2001). A follow-up study of 45 patients with selective mutism. European Archives of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 251, 284–296. doi:10.1007/PL00007547

Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (2015). Behavioral Assessment System for Children,™ Third Edition: Manual. New York, NY: Pearson Clinical Assessment.

Sanetti, L. M. H., & Luiselli, J. K. (2009). Evidence-based practices for selective mutism: Implementation by a school team. School Psychology Forum, 3, 27–42.

Selective Mutism Anxiety Research and Treatment Center© & Shipon-Blum, E. (2012). Selective Mutism – Stages of Social Communication Comfort Scale©. Retrieved from

Shriver, M. D., Segool, N., & Gortmaker, V. (2011). Behavior observations for linking assessment to treatment for selective mutism. Education and Treatment of Children, 34, 389–411. doi:10.1353/etc.2011.0023

Steinhausen, H.-C., Wachter, M., Laimbock, K., & Metzke, C. W. (2006). A long-term outcome study of selective mutism in childhood. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 751–756. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01560.x

Toppelberg, C. O., Tabors, P., Coggins, A., Lum, K., & Burger, C. (2005). Differential diagnosis of selective mutism in bilingual children. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 592–595. doi:10.1097/01.chi.0000157549.87078.f8

Viana, A. G., Beidel, D. C., & Rabian, B. (2009). Selective mutism: A review and integration of the last 15 years. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 57–67. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2008.09.009

Zakszeski, B. N., & DuPaul, G. J. (2017). Reinforce, shape, expose, and fade: A review of treatments for selective mutism (2005-2015). School Mental Health, 9, 1–15. doi:10.1007/s12310-016-9198-8

Thank You to Our Fall 2018 Advertisers

Earn CE Credit

Learn More

1200 New York Ave NW, Ste 800

Washington DC 20005

p: 202.783.7663

f: 202.347.0550

Endorsed by the National Register