Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Teaching, Leadership & Professional Practice

First Advisor

Glenn Olsen


Selective Mutism (SM) is a social anxiety disorder characterized by a child's inability to speak in selected social situations, usually school. The causes of SM are multi-factorial. Affected children often have a history of anxiety, linguistic and motor disorders. Current therapies include a mix of anti-anxiety medication, behavioral modification therapy and anxiety reduction techniques.

Art therapy, (dance, drama and theater), has been shown to be beneficial in reducing anxiety and encouraging communication through forms other than speaking. Art therapy could be a valuable modality, benefitting children with SM.

I surveyed parents, teachers, former teachers of children with SM, and adults over the age of 18 who have or have had SM to investigate whether various art therapies had been helpful in the treatment of the disorder. Respondents consider cognitive behavioral therapy the most helpful therapy. Various art therapies were rated as moderately helpful for children with Selective Mutism.