Treatment Approach at the Center Social Communication Anxiety Treatment (S-CAT)®
The SMart Center is a comprehensive treatment and research center focused exclusively on the anxiety disorder, Selective Mutism, in young children and teenagers. The center is directed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum
who has developed the evidence-based treatment
called Social Communication Anxiety Treatment (S-CAT)®
What makes S-CAT® different from other treatment approaches?
1. The S-CAT® program has been researched and proven to work quickly!
2. Within 3 visits (or less!) children make substantially significant improvement in their ability to speak in ALL social settings, including school.
3. Patients are seen monthly, NOT weekly.
4. Step-by Step proven success strategies are provided to children (via /games/goals), parents (goals!) and school staff (specific strategies/interventions to help the child progress into speech!)
5. The overall costs for treatment is significantly less since results are quick and children are seen less
*(The average number of sessions is 5-8 visits)
6. S-CAT® has been used successfully in over 5000 children from around the world. *References are always available!
S-CAT® centers on viewing Selective Mutism as a Social Communication Anxiety Disorder and treating the whole child, not just a child's mutism. The name, SELECTIVE MUTISM, implies that the main and only issue with silent children is their inability to speak. As a result, so many professionals focus treatment and understanding on ways to get the child to speak. This is incorrect and usually leads to worsening and prolonged anxiety; hence minimal progress.
Upon examination of the child with Selective Mutism it becomes clear that many children suffering in silence are unable to communicate nonverbally as well as verbally. Many cannot communicate at all when anxious! As a result, appropriate social interaction is often negatively affected.
Through years of working directly with children with Selective Mutism and understanding that each child has his or her own unique needs, Dr. Shipon-Blum has developed a treatment approach called Social Communication Anxiety Treatment (S-CAT)®
. This treatment approach is currently being used successfully by numerous practitioners around the country. Researchers are presently studying the short-term as well as long-term success rates of S-CAT®.
Children with Selective Mutism develop social-communication anxiety secondary to their feelings of social expectations. These feelings are induced by a multitude of factors (ie, genetics, environment, innate temperament, cognitive and developmental levels, etc). In order to help the child develop coping skills to combat anxious and often fearful feelings, one must first understand the child's ability to engage socially and communicate with others in various social environments that can change from setting to setting and person to person.
To accomplish this, SMart Center professionals use a variety of assessment tools, school and home evaluation forms, parent and school interviews, and possibly comprehensive speech-language, occupational therapy, developmental, and physical evaluations. The child's unique needs and the degree of social communication anxiety in multiple settings are determined based on results from the evaluations (in-person or via video taping).
Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® strategies are then incorporated with the child's unique needs and characteristics into an individualized treatment plan. The focus of treatment is on the 'whole child' and needs to include the parents, school, child, and treatment professional working as a team to enable for steady and consistent progress aimed at building social comfort and verbal communication.