Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Dr. Mitchell Kossak

Second Advisor

Dr. Denise Malis

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Friedman


This study employed art-based research with phenomenological qualitative inquiry to understand the perspectives of professionals who are working in the Israeli school system with children diagnosed with selective mutism. Selective mutism (SM) is a disorder originated in anxiety in which a child, between the ages of 3–5, does not speak at school but does speak at home (APA, 2022). In this research, the researcher facilitated a professional workshop based on Dillon (2016) and a similar workshop conducted by Harwood and Bork (2011). The aim was to broaden the knowledge and investigate the opinions of professionals working with children diagnosed with SM. The researcher met with 13 participants, who learned about the disorder and then created artwork illustrating their feelings about working with these children. Participants were interviewed regarding their feelings, fears, and success stories in a group setting on Zoom software during the COVID-19 lockdown. Outcomes showed participants felt isolated and alone and found that the group setting held a space for them to be able to better understand how to work with children with SM. Participants shared that they wished they had more support from the school, agreed that knowledge on the disorder is scarce, and wished they had supervision. Awareness was brought in how to employ art therapy as an intervention method. The study revealed that communication style is an important component that can help a child to begin speaking and learn how to communicate in and outside of school.

Keywords: Selective mutism, professional workshop, communication, teachers, expressive art therapists



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