Since 2001, Dr. McHolm has been actively involved in advocacy, clinical work, clinical research, and professional training devoted to this special population. As Director of the then Selective Mutism Service at McMaster Children’s Hospital (2001-2009), she gained extensive firsthand experience working with youth with selective mutism, their families, and other professionals involved in their care (e.g., school-based personnel, mental health and medical professionals, speech-language pathologists). Within her role with the Selective Mutism Service, Dr. McHolm was responsible for the development of a clinical service pathway for children with selective mutism and their families. Services included: 1) initial assessment of referred children, 2) school-based consultation to parents, school personnel, and involved professionals (e.g., speech & language pathologists; daycare staff), 3) individually tailored school-based intervention programming, 4) individual psychotherapy for older children, 5) a six session workshop series for parents and professionals supporting a child with selective mutism, and 6) consultation to professionals from other regions.

In addition to her clinical interests, Dr. McHolm is engaged in several research projects intended to further our understanding of children with selective mutism. These include:

1) principal investigator for a longitudinal study of children with selective mutism (SM). This study tracked approximately 50 children with SM as they develop through childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Academic, social, and psychological functioning was assessed at each stage through self-reports, parent-reports, teacher-reports, and objective measures.

2) co-investigator for a multi-site study (in collaboration with Dr. C. Cunningham et al.) designed to examine the psychophysiological and epidemiological characteristics (e.g., academic abilities; social skills; parent-child interactions) of children with SM in comparison to children with social anxiety.

3) clinical outcome research intended to assess symptom reduction and parents’ sense of competence managing SM after participation in a six session, skills training workshop series.