Selective Mutism is not just a childhood condition but can occur in adults as well. In most cases, adults with Selective Mutism have had this condition all of their lives (e.g., from about age 3 or 4), but for various reasons they have never received successful treatment. In some cases, Selective Mutism can start later in life (e.g., in high school), in which case we often find that Autism is also present. 

Selective Mutism in adults can present in many different ways. Some adults can talk to their family but no one outside the family. Some find it hard to speak to their family as well. Some can talk in specific situations (e.g., with friends at TAFE) but not in other situations (e.g., with colleagues at work). Many adults with Selective Mutism have been unable to work or study since leaving school, are unable to live independently, and become isolated at home with little contact with friends, and can become increasingly withdrawn and distant from their family.



We recognise that it is an extremely difficult decision for most adults to seek treatment. For this reason, a family member or support worker often contacts us on behalf of the adult. We will therefore check prior to the assessment how the adult wishes to communicate with us during the initial assessment.



Adults with Selective Mutism may not wish to be present for the first session, in which case we can gather assessment information from your parents/carers. You may wish to be present in the assessment but choose not to respond in any way, which is perfectly fine as well. Some adults with Selective Mutism will be able to participate nonverbally by nodding/shaking their head in response to questions, may be able to write responses or type in a chat box (if it is a Zoom session). Some may be able to whisper to an adult during the session or manage some short verbal responses. We understand that every adult with Selective Mutism has different ways to communicate and we will accept whatever way you choose to communicate with the therapist. We will not ask you questions that you cannot answer and will certainly not show frustration, talk in a condescending way, make comments about your difficulty talking, or pressure you in any way. After attending an assessment, you are not obligated to have any follow up sessions. We can give you an idea of how we feel we can help, and it is your decision whether to proceed or not.



When providing treatment for adults with Selective Mutism, we try to understand your own reasons for wanting help and your own goals for therapy. We are here to help you with whatever is important to you, and we recognise that this will be different for different people. Some adults with Selective Mutism may have a goal to build their communication with people. However, for others, communication may not be a priority; instead, they may wish to get help with other things such as getting a job, study at TAFE or University, do more fun things, work on feeling happier, feel less anxious, or build friendships. During treatment sessions, you will be able to communicate with us in whatever way you feel comfortable, which may involve writing, typing, whispering, or talking using single words.

Selective Mutism
Clinic Director & Clinical Psychologist Dr Elizabeth Woodcock runs a series of webinars about Selective Mutism. In our experience, families who start treatment having already watched one of our webinars make faster progress with the strategies that are taught as they have a thorough understanding of the techniques prior to starting treatment.

See details of our bestselling webinar, ‘How to Help Your Child with Selective Mutism’ here. In addition, it is also highly beneficial for your child’s progress if you can help the classroom teacher to understand the benefits of watching the 3-hour webinar specifically targeted for schools here. A high school version of the webinar is here.