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Title: Professionals’ experiences of selective mutism in children : an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Authors: Mizzi, Bernice
Sant, Marta
Keywords: Selective mutism -- Patients
Speech disorders in children
Phenomenological psychology
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty of Health Sciences
Citation: Mizzi, B., & Sant, M. (2021). Professionals’ experiences of selective mutism in children : an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Malta Journal of Health Sciences, 8(1), 19-29.
Abstract: Selective mutism (SM) in children occurs when children experience verbal difficulties in social situations outside their natural environment. Research in the field of SM tends to focus on specific treatmentrelated interventions and their efficacy. In contrast, this qualitative study investigated the lived experiences of professionals who worked directly with children who have SM, in order to understand what it was like for them to engage with these children and the meaning(s) they attached to their experiences. The study’s aim was to consider the professionals’ beliefs regarding this disorder and how it impacted their practice. Six practitioners from various areas of specialisation working in Malta were interviewed, including two speech and language pathologists, one counsellor, one clinical psychologist/ psychotherapist and two educational psychologists. Data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and four superordinate themes were identified. Findings indicated that clinical practice in this area was a complex endeavour. Participants referred to the need to be ‘self-sufficient’ as professionals, by engaging in reflexivity, independent study and supervision related to the disorder. Future research may consider a deeper exploration into the emotional reactions and discomfort experienced by professionals in response to children’s silence. Furthermore, research regarding the aetiology, symptomatology and prevalence rates of SM in Malta is needed, together with related professional development opportunities for professionals who work with children in their practice.
Appears in Collections:MJHS, Volume 8, Issue 1

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