Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 177–194 | Cite as

Selective mutism in children: A structural family therapy approach to treatment

  • Diane Wolf Tatem
  • Robert L. DelCampo

Abstract

When children refuse to speak in some social settings, but can understand and speak in other settings, the diagnosis of selective mutism must be considered. A review of the literature describes the disorder, the various types of mutism, and related family dynamics. A family systems approach to treatment using structural family therapy is suggested. The case history presented illustrates one type of mutism as well as the family rules and hierarchy which appeared to be maintaining it. Structural and strategic family systems theory techniques that were used to move the family toward resolution of this problem are discussed.

Key words

selective mutism structural family therapy strategic family therapy behavioral treatment psychodynamic treatment 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Afnan, S., & Carr, A. (1989). Interdisciplinary treatment of a case of elective mutism.British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52(2), 61–66.Google Scholar
  2. Angelou, M. (1970).I know why the caged bird sings. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  3. Croghan, L., & Craven, R. (1982). Elective mutism: Learning from the analysis of a successful case history.Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 7, 85–93.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition, (1994). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  5. Elson, A., Pearson, C., Jones, D., & Schumacher, E. (1965). Follow-up study of childhood elective mutism.Archives of General Psychiatry, 13, 182–187.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Halpern, W., Hammond, J., & Cohen, R. (1979). A therapeutic approach to speech phobia: Elective mutism reexamined.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 10, 94–107.Google Scholar
  7. Hayden, T. (1980). Classification of elective mutism.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 19, 118–133.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Hesselman, S. (1983). Elective mutism in children 1877–1981.Actapaedopsychiatry, 49, 297–310.Google Scholar
  9. Kehle, T. J., Owens, S. V., & Cressy, E. T. (1990). The use of self-modeling as an intervention in school psychology: A case study.School Psychology Review, 19, 115–121.Google Scholar
  10. Kolvin, L., & Fundudis, T. (1981). Electively mute children: Psychological development and background factors.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 22, 219–232.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Kupietz, S., & Schwartz, I. (1982). Elective mutism: Evaluation and treatment of three cases.New York State Journal of Medicine, 7, 1073–1076.Google Scholar
  12. Lebrun, Y. (1990).Mutism. London: Whurr Publishers.Google Scholar
  13. Lowenstein, L. F. (1978). A summary of the research on elective mutism.Actapaedopsychiatry, 44, 17–22.Google Scholar
  14. Mora, G., Devault, S., & Schopler, E. (1962). Dynamics and psychotherapy of identical twins with elective mutism.Journal of Behavioral Therapy and of Experimental Psychiatry, 13, 145–147.Google Scholar
  15. Olson, D., Russell, C., & Sprenkle, D. (1983). Circumplex model of marital and family systems: Theoretical update.Family Process, 22, 69–83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Pustrom, E., & Speers, R. (1964). Elective mutism in children.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 9, 287–297.Google Scholar
  17. Rosenbaum, E., & Kellman, M. (1973). Treatment of a selectively mute third-grade child.Journal of School Psychology, 11, 26–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Thompson, R. C. (1988). Elective mutism: Identification and differential diagnosis.Texas Journal of Audiology and Speech Pathology, 14, 12–15.Google Scholar
  19. Wright, H. (1968). A clinical study of children who refuse to talk in school.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 7, 603–617.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Wright, H., Miller, D., Cook, M., & Littman, J. (1985). Early identification and intervention with children who refuse to speak.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 24, 739–746.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane Wolf Tatem
  • Robert L. DelCampo

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations