Selective Mutism Program

Children with selective mutism (SM), can be exceptionally talkative in the privacy of their homes but unable to speak at all in school and other social situations. Though these children might appear willful, they are actually pathologically self-conscious and experience it as an inability to speak.

The Child Mind Institute's Selective Mutism Program helps children with SM overcome their symptoms through evidence-supported behavioral interventions.

We learn about your child's history, development, and symptoms. We conduct live behavioral observations to best understand his or her ease of talking, with and without strangers present, as well as review video of your child talking at home.

Highlights of Our Treatment

  • We guide the child to do "brave talking" by systematically bringing the therapist closer while the parent and child play, then gradually fade the parent out of the room.
  • We build children's confidence in talking by taking them out of the office and into community settings such as stores and libraries
  • Treatment frequency varies depending on the severity of the symptoms and ranges from once a week to 15-20 hours per week. Intensive treatment weeks are offered for out-of-town families, either at our New York City office or in your home location.
  • For children who might benefit from medication, we partner with their current physicians or a Child Mind Institute pediatric psychopharmacologist.
  • We offer school-based consultation and training for teachers and staff, as well as advocacy for children at school meetings.
  • We also present a series of free monthly training and support workshops for parents and professionals. Our workshops are livestreamed—so you can attend in person or participate online and watch past workshops.

Intensive Treatment

Brave Buddies is an intensive group behavioral therapy program to help children with SM speak in school and other public settings. Using a simulated classroom, the program offers children a safe environment to practice "brave talking." The program takes place during one week in the summer and in daylong programs offered four times a year.

To make an appointment, please call us at 212.308.3118 or request an appointment online.

Our Team

  • Rachel Busman
    Rachel Busman, PsyD

    Co-Director, Selective Mutism Program, Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center
    Child Mind Institute

    Rachel Busman, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety ...

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  • Steven Kurtz
    Steven Kurtz, PhD, ABPP

    Co-Director, Selective Mutism Program
    Child Mind Institute

    Steven Kurtz, PhD, ABPP, is one of the nation’s leading clinicians in the treatment ...

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  • Laura Kirmayer
    Laura Kirmayer, MA

    Associate Psychologist, ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Center; Fellow, Selective Mutism Program
    Child Mind Institute

    Laura Kirmayer, MA, is a clinical psychologist with experience in behavior therapy. Laura joins the ...

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  • Raquel Cumba
    Raquel Cumba, PhD

    Associate Psychologist, Selective Mutism Program
    Child Mind Institute

    Raquel Cumba, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety ...

    Read More
  • Natalie Weder
    Natalie Weder, MD

    Pediatric Psychopharmacologist
    Child Mind Institute

    Natalie Weder, MD, is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with extensive experience diagnosing and treating ...

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  • Margaret Areizaga
    Margaret Areizaga, MA

    Predoctoral Fellow
    Child Mind Institute

    Margaret Areizaga, MA, is a predoctoral fellow specializing in the evaluation and treatment of children ...

    Read More
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