Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Selective Mutism: A Survey of School Psychologists' Experience, Knowledge and Perceptions
by Ellis, Chris, Ph.D., Chapman University, 2015, 105; 3721028
Abstract (Summary)

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder in which a student speaks in one setting but does not speak in another where speaking is expected, most often school. Most cases are noticed when the child starts school for the first time, however they often are not referred for treatment until 1-3 years later and often are referred to private agencies or therapists. The longer selective mutism continues, the more difficult it is to treat. School psychologists are in an ideal position to support school staff in the identification and intervention of selective mutism(SM), however, there have been no studies that specifically focus on the role of school psychologists in identifying and intervening on selective mutism.

This study surveyed working school psychologists to determine how many were aware of the condition of SM, how many had worked with students with SM, what types of assessments they used, the interventions implemented and the treatment outcomes. An online survey collected data from 165 participants regarding their experience, knowledge and perceptions as related to selective mutism. All of those surveyed were aware of selective mutism, 97% had had some contact with a student with SM, and 81% had worked directly with a student with SM. The majority of assessment methods included observations, interviews, and the BASC2 internalizing scales. Most of the respondents did not use specific scales that measured speaking. The services most provided were interviews with parents and teachers, followed up with suggestions, referrals to private therapists, and comprehensive special education assessment. The interventions used most frequently included one-to-one sessions, play therapy, and smallgroup. Systematic desensitization, behavior modification and cognitive behavior therapy, interventions most supported by the literature, were used only 20% of the time. The results of interventions varied with 42% of respondents indicating no progress with one or more students, more than 60% making "a little" progress, and 30% indicating they were very successful helping one or more students to became completely verbal. The results indicated a need and desire from school psychologists for training on selective mutism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Busse, Randy T.
Commitee: Brady, John, Hass, Michael
School: Chapman University
Department: College of Education Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational psychology, Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Anxiety disorder, Assessment, Mutism, School interventions, Selective mutism, Treatment
Publication Number: 3721028
ISBN: 9781339022062
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