Oftentimes it can be hard for older children and teenagers with Selective Mutism and social anxiety to agree to participate in a group treatment program like CommuniCamp™. This is a very common barrier to treatment so rest assured you and your child are not alone! Some might not know what to expect, some might be afraid of feeling silly or embarrassed, others aren’t motivated or open to receiving help. You know your child best so how you present the topic to your teen will vary from family to family. However, any way you frame it, emphasize that there are no expectations to talk. You read that correctly! We know what you might be thinking, “There are no expectations to talk at a treatment program for Selective Mutism?!” That’s right. Our world-renowned, evidence-based treatment created by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum is called Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), and it is about building comfort, confidence, feeling empowered, and doing strategies using a CBT approach that lead to progression into verbal, social speech. Yes, speaking comfortably in social settings is the ultimate goal and we are coming together at CommuniCamp™ for therapeutic reasons, but our priority is for your teen to feel empowered, develop coping skills. and to have fun while learning and being exposed to various skills and S-CAT® strategies as they progress into speech. Therefore, prior to attending CommuniCamp™ we suggest that you do not put emphasis on speaking or insinuate to your son or daughter that it would be great if they would speak to us.
Since parents are also in their own sessions (all day, every day), it is also recommended that you tell your teen “our whole family is going to CommuniCamp™ so we can all learn how to better communicate with each other.” This helps alleviate some of the pressure off of your child. You can also explain that there will be other families and kids their age whom they can relate to. Everyone is attending for the same reason: to learn about Selective Mutism, to develop coping skills to alleviate anxiety, to learn skills to communicate easier and best of all, to have fun.
The CommuniCamp™ enrollment process involves our evidence-based, clinical assessment of your child and we are prepared to help by understanding and respecting each camper’s baseline stage for social communication on the Social Communication Bridge®, simultaneously taking into account the “WHYs of SM” or factors that are contributing to an individual’s development and maintenance of SM. We do not push to speak if the child/teen is not ready; we utilize purposeful transitional games, goals, and strategies to “Bridge Up” or progress to the next Stage of Social Communication.
Another major component of S-CAT® is giving the child/teen a sense of control. Therefore, we suggest sharing the information on this website and on the CommuniCamp™ page with older campers/teens so they aren’t in the dark about the process. Continue reading to learn nine reasons why teens should participate in the CommuniCamp™ Program!
Feel accepted. We are happy to welcome teens between the ages 13-17-years-old; therefore, you will not feel alone! You and your teenager will be around others who can relate.
“Thank you for accepting my 17-year old daughter into [CommuniCamp™] and for working with us to provide this opportunity for my family. It has felt like we were always just a bit out of reach… I am grateful we were able to participate.”
Be understood. So many people and places misunderstand…many teens walk away from CommuniCamp™ saying that they feel more understood after attending. Counselors for the teen group are carefully hand-selected based on skill and experience of working with adolescents and are trained in S-CAT® strategies providing that inherent understanding.
Accomplish goals. 100% of teens who participated in our post-event survey said they felt like they accomplished most of their goals! Some of their goals included:
- making friends
- building self-confidence
- gaining skills to cope with anxiety
- standing up for themselves
- talking to strangers (like servers) without anxiety
- initiating conversations with strangers
Be treated as an individual. At CommuniCamp™, we meet each teen at his or her own level, and treat the whole person, not just his or her SM diagnosis. We are the only facility in the world to implement the world-renowned treatment, S-CAT®, developed by SM pioneer and expert, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum. Read more about how our evidence-based program works.
Learn multiple coping skills. Most teens with Selective Mutism have social communication challenges in multiple social settings; therefore, school-based scenarios, mock hangouts/parties/social situations, and exposure to real-world situations are used for three days. Through journaling, role-plays, exposure, mindfulness, movement, and more, they will learn to bring awareness to feelings and emotions, initiate, and engage in conversations with peers.
Stay motivated. CommuniCamp™ is designed to increase insight and motivation for teenagers through therapeutic strategies. As a result, our teenage participants gain the tools and language to reflect on their social communication difficulties and identify specific and meaningful goals that they would like to achieve.
Work on age appropriate social interactions. The comprehensive, all-encompassing approach at CommuniCamp™ allows campers to see and hear themselves in everyday situations while being exposed to strategies and coping skills to positively impact communication and comfort in all areas of life. CommuniCamp™ delivers the motivation for success and will address all aspects of life including:
- Starting and joining conversations
- Participating in class
- Job interview skills
- Text/email/social media
- Asking others for help
Reframe thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Insight-oriented and cognitive-behavioral approaches incorporated into the activities/interventions throughout the day help teens become aware of their thoughts and feelings, and understand the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Teens learn to challenge and replace negative, anxiety-provoking thoughts that get in the way of successful social communication. Tackling self-defeating thoughts allows teens to re-frame previously anxiety-provoking situations, try new behaviors, and experience social communication success.
Communicate better as a family. CommuniCamp™ is an all-day group program for parents, too! As parents, you will be fully immersed in the world of Selective Mutism for the entirety of the program. You will be educated and trained in our treatment methods and strategy to properly implement coping skills with your teen following camp. You will meet other parents, share stories, and experiences, and have the opportunity for Q&A daily with our expert clinicians.