Our Treatment Approach

The SMart Center treats children, teens, and adults using Social Communication Anxiety Treatment®, or S-CAT®, an evidence-based treatment program developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum designed to increase social engagement, verbal communication and promote social confidence.

It is effective for individuals with Selective Mutism (SM), social anxiety, extreme shyness, and related social communication issues. 

Over 95% of individuals in our research study showed gains in speaking frequency in school, public/social settings, and with people they had not previously spoken to, as well as, improvement in emotional functioning.

S-CAT® focuses on the whole person – not just the mutism

S-CAT® is based on the concept that Selective Mutism is a social communication anxiety disorder that is more than just not speaking. S-CAT® integrates components of behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and is an insight-oriented approach designed to increase social confidence.

Social communication tactics such as systematic desensitization, modeling, fading, and positive reinforcement tend to improve an individual’s social engagement skills. Using the Social Communication Bridge© , individuals can progress into speech in all social settings – such as at home with guests, inside the classroom, at work as well as in other real-world settings. 

In addition, for children and teens with Selective Mutism, intensive parent management skills are necessary and, therefore, incorporated into S-CAT®. Often times, children and teens with Selective Mutism have difficult eating, toileting and sleeping.

Treatment is individualized and based on the individual’s unique needs. 

S-CAT® will address 3 key questions

  1. Looking back – What are the reasons why the individual developed Selective Mutism? 
  2. Looking around – Why does Selective Mutism persist despite past treatment and parent/teacher awareness?
  3. Looking ahead – What can be done at home, in school, and in real world settings to help the individual build the coping skills necessary to overcome their social communication challenges?

Research on S-CAT®

Social Communication Anxiety Treatment for Children and Families with Selective Mutism: A Pilot Study (March 2016; Journal of Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry)

  • Our summary on the above research HERE
  • Additional synopsis on the above research HERE