You Speak 7 – Selective Mutism

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My experience as a Counsellor working with a selective mute:

This case was quite different from my other caseloads. I worked with an 8 year old child who has been a selective mute for her entire school life. The therapy journey was made difficult because of the mode of communication and interaction. This was frustrating and challenging for me and also for the child, because sometimes she will get emotional during the sessions. She lived with her parents and two younger siblings. She will play and speak at home but not in school. The cause and reason for her mutism was unknown to both parents and the school.

During the process of our therapy sessions, we exchanged written notes; I ask questions in writing and she replies in writing. This was the norm for a long period of time until one session she wrote in her sheet of paper that she will communicate with me after the Christmas holiday; I wrote back saying that I will look forward to that.

The ice was broken during one of our sessions; I wrote my questions as usual for her and instead of replying by writing, she spoke the words ‘thank you’. After then she came into the sessions telling me that she was very happy and was always saying thank you to me. She is enjoying school life more than ever before and she is still very happy. I think children like her should be welcome within therapy, although some may argue that these children cannot be helped. By finding ways to make the therapy work even without verbal communication (spoken words) we can help assist the child to explore all the issues that they are facing at the time, often resulting in a positive outcome like the child mentioned above.

Anette Aseru – Counsellor, Lambeth

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