Building Social Comfort and Communication in a Small Group Setting

What: A 6-week group therapy program to help your child with selective mutism, social anxiety, or shyness build the social comfort and communication skills needed in school, the real world, and home. This program is based on the evidence-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), developed by Elisa Shipon-Blum, DO. This group program will help your child cross the bridge to social communication! Parents will also learn strategies that they can use in everyday life. Groups are intentionally kept small to allow for more individualized attention and building comfort in social settings.

Who: Children ages 3-7 with selective mutism, social anxiety, and/or extreme shyness.

CommuniGroup Winter Session (AT CAPACITY)
Parent Orientation Session: Monday, January 16: 9:30-11:30 am or 1:30-3:30 pm
Group Therapy Sessions: Mondays: January 23, 30; February 6, 13, 20, 27

CommuniGroup Spring Session (AT CAPACITY)
Parent Orientation Session: Friday, March 10: 9:30-11:30 am or 1:30-3:30 pm
Group Therapy Sessions: Mondays: March 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10, 17
Time: 3-5 year olds: 1:30-2:30 pm; 5-7 year olds: 3:30-4:30 pm

If you were interested in CommuniGroup, but were not able to participate in either of these sessions, follow this link to fill out our interest form:

We will be in contact about future availabilities regarding CommuniGroup!

Where:           SMart Center
505 North Old York Road
Jenkintown Square, Lower Level
Jenkintown, PA 19046

How to Apply: If you’re interested in participating in the CommuniGroup program, please complete an online application. Applications will then be reviewed by a clinician, who will call you to discuss your child’s eligibility for the program.

Application Process and Fees: To participate in the CommuniGroup program, families will go through the following steps:

Step 1: Complete an online application to determine preliminary eligibility. Your application will be reviewed by a clinician, who will then offer a 15-minute phone consultation to discuss eligibility and next steps.

Cost: $75
*Established SMart Center patients: You are eligible to submit the application for FREE.
Use the Coupon Code: SMartPatient

Step 2: Complete a 90-minute, in-person intake session with a clinician. This session will assess the child’s current level of functioning in social communication and confirm eligibility for the CommuniGroup program.

Cost: $300
*If your child has ever participated in any S-CAT programs/treatment services at the SMart Center in the past, the intake interview is not necessary. After your application is reviewed by our team, we will notify you if an intake must be scheduled

Step 3: Parents attend a 2-hour parent orientation session. This session will provide an overview of the CommuniGroup program and how to implement S-CAT® strategies between group sessions.

Cost: $150/person or $200/couple

Step 4: Children attend weekly group therapy sessions designed to build social comfort and communication. Parents receive weekly reports on their childs progress.

Cost: $75/session

Frequently Asked Questions

The original S-CAT® Program was developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum and is an individualized and intensive program (average visits 3-7) for children/teens who suffer from Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety and extreme shyness. The patient works one-on-one with Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum or one of her trained licensed treatment professionals, who will tailor the S-CAT® treatment philosophies/approach to each child’s unique and specific needs in a more traditional therapeutic environment. The S-CAT® Program has been researched, and a peer-reviewed article of a pilot study demonstrating its effectiveness was published in 2016.

At CommuniCamp, the evidence-based S-CAT® philosophies will be used in an intensive, camp-like setting, where patients will have the ability to interact in small groups with their fellow CommuniCamp participants. Working with both highly-trained, graduate-level counselors led by our licensed clinicians, participants at CommuniCamp will experience a truly unique opportunity for treatment. Over the course of just 3 days (5 hours of camp per day for a total of 15 hours of treatment), CommuniCamp will incorporate S-CAT® strategies into fun, camp-like games and therapeutic activities that will help each patient move across the Social Communication Bridge® during the program and will provide them (and their parents) with the tools to utilize these strategies once they leave the program as well!

The CommuniGroup program is another option for patients to receive treatment in a small group setting. Treatment is provided in groups of 3-5 children of similar age. Like those in the CommuniCamp program, those in the CommuniGroup program will work with either a licensed psychologist or mental health professional, or a trained doctoral-level graduate student under supervision. The CommuniGroup program emphasizes building social comfort in a group setting over a longer period of time. CommuniGroup participants will meet for 1-hour long treatment sessions for six weeks.

The detailed Intake evaluation performed by our licensed clinicians will determine eligibility once an application is accepted. Typically, if a child meets the diagnostic criteria for Selective Mutism or social anxiety disorder, etc., is toilet trained, understands English, can separate from a parent/caregiver and does not have developmental delays that will affect participation, he/she will most likely be accepted into the camp. In addition to determining eligibility, the intake evaluation will confirm diagnosis, determine the child’s individual needs as well as group placement in the camp or group.

We understand that comfort precedes communication. CommuniComfort is the approach we use at the SMart Center and modeled after concepts within the S-CAT® Program to help children build social and communication comfort in a given setting or with an individual. This process begins weeks prior to the start of camp to help the child feel comfortable with their lead counselor. Then, prior to camp and during camp purposeful strategies are used to help ease anxiety which will foster comfort and communication among st campers and counselors

As a specialty medical practice, the SMart Center does not accept medical insurance plans. Our professional services are considered out of network with all insurance providers.

We are happy to provide receipts to families for submitting to their insurance companies for possible reimbursement. We suggest you contact your insurance carrier and inquire about your out of network coverage, any deductibles that must be met, whether you need a letter of medical necessity from your childs pediatrician, or any limitations on coverage.

Both CommuniCamp and CommuniGroup programs have limited spaces available, as they emphasize small group treatment. Payment of your deposit reserves your child’s space in the program. As a result, the SMart Center requires that deposits are paid at least 30 days prior to the start date of the program. Cancellations prior to 30 days before the start of program will receive a full refund. Cancellations with less than 30 days notice will not receive a refund. Group members are expected to attend all 6 weeks.

Group members in our CommuniGroup are expected to attend all six weeks of 1-hr sessions. Refunds will not be provided for sessions missed during the program. This policy is put in place because confirmation of admission into the program means that your child’s spot will be held for all six sessions, materials will be purchased for them specifically, and the other CommuniGroup members depend on them for participation.

Yes. We welcome families from all over the world to take part in our S-CAT® programs. There are many affordable options, including ‘low cost’ housing for accommodations near our center in Jenkintown, PA. [Click here to view our recommendations]

Our camp program is specifically designed to provide families with the time to practice evidence-based S-CAT® strategies out in the real world. Families are encouraged to explore the great city of Philadelphia, as they journey across the bridge to social communication! [Click here for a list of things to do in Philadelphia]

If you are already working with one of our professionals at the SMart Center, then you are able to apply for CommuniCamp AND CommuniGroup for free.
In addition, because your child has already been evaluated at our center and we have received all relevant forms prior to their other treatment, an intake interview is not necessary.

Therefore, as an established SMart Center patient, your only steps for signing up for either CommuniCamp or CommuniGroup are:
1. Fill out the corresponding application, indicating that you are an
established patient at the end of the form by using the
coupon code: SMart Patient when prompted.
2. Wait for a clinician at the SMart Center to confirm that your child has
been accepted into the program.
3. Attend the program!