Selective Mutism treatment

Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC was formed in 2014 to serve the needs of children and families facing the emotional, behavioral, and other psychological challenges associated with Selective Mutism. The founder, Dr. Steven Kurtz, is an internationally recognized expert in Selective Mutism (SM) and more broadly in child psychology with specializations in a number of other areas as well, including but not limited to ADHD, oppositional and defiant behavior, anxiety, and educational challenges. He founded the Selective Mutism Programs at both the NYU Child Study Center and the Child Mind Institute. In 2009, he created the Brave Buddies program, an intensive group treatment in a pretend school setting, that is now offered at his NYC location and is replicated at sites in NYC, Chicago, Boston and Miami.

Dr. Kurtz also developed the Selective Mutism Behavioral Observation Task (SM-BOT), a validated assessment specifically designed for children with SM where we get to observe their speaking with their parents without the undue pressure of them being expected to talk to us! He also developed the Selective Mutism Interaction Coding System (SMICS-R) to provide a window into the adult-child interactions in SM.

Our SM work has been presented at numerous national and regional scientific conferences including SMA, ABCT, and ADAA among others. Their work has also appeared in scientific journals: Carpenter, Aubrey L., et al. “Extending Parent–Child Interaction Therapy for Early Childhood Internalizing Problems: New Advances for an Overlooked Population.” Clinical child and family psychology review 17.4 (2014): 340-356.

He is a Research Advisor to SMA and a former Board Member of SMA. An expert commentator, he has appeared on numerous programs addressing child mental health, including NBC’s Today, CBS’s The Early Show and PBS’s Keeping Kids Healthy. Dr. Kurtz’s Brave Buddies program for SM was also featured on ABC’s Nightline.

Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC provides families and schools numerous treatment and training options including:

  1. Individual Treatment at our flagship offices in midtown Manhattan. For many families our intensive treatment option is most practical and effective. We presented on these intensive treatments at the 2014 ADAA Conference. Here’s a link to that video (Please note 100% of the royalties go to the ADAA.)
  2. SM Group Intensive Treatment: Based on the Brave Buddies model that Dr. Kurtz developed in 2009, while at the NYU Child Study Center, we are thrilled to offer our intensive group for children 3-9 years of age twice each year in the summer and during President’s week. See our website for current dates and registration.
  3. Intensive treatment where you live. We have the capacity to come to embed with you and your family to provide intensive treatment onsite where you live and where your child goes to school. We have worked with many families in this format which includes our going to school with the child for a week to live with them in school, modeling how others can successfully engage them and teaching the staff how to carry on.
  4. Distance case consultation: Many children with SM have local therapists who are not specialty trained in SM but who are willing to be coached to advance their SM-specific skills. You as the parent can engage us to work with your therapist. Call for more information about this option.
  5. Staff training: We can design a staff training to suit your school or agency needs varying from half-day to multi-day trainings. Our focus is on skill development so all of our trainings involve actual practice and coaching of skills in the school or agency setting. We provide follow-up case consultation in a Web-based format as desired.


Treatment is provided by Dr. Kurtz and his personally-trained team of staff and student therapists. Fees vary by experience and sliding scale is offered as needed. Our current team includes:

  • Dr. Steven Kurtz, licensed psychologist and Board Certified behavior therapist.
  • Shelley Avny, a clinical psychologist.
  • Gina Robinson, LCWS, MSW, a licensed clinical social worker.
  • Christy Tadros, MA, EdM, Mental Health Counselor

Kurtz Pyschology Consulting PC
57 W 57 Street
New York, NY 10019
212-658-0110 Phone

Shelley Avny

Shelley Avny, PhD is a clinical psychologist at Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC with expertise in assessing and treating selective mutism in children and adolescents. She serves as Director of Training and the Clinical Director of two selective mutism camps – Mighty Mouth Kids and WeSpeak. Dr. Avny trained with many of the leaders in the field to be able to provide the best possible care to the children and families with whom she works. She also has extensive experience treating other anxiety disorders and disruptive behavior disorders.

As Clinical Director of Mighty Mouth Kids at KPCPC, Dr. Avny plans and executes twice-yearly SM treatment camps, organizes and leads counselor trainings, and runs daily parent training sessions during camp. Dr. Avny also developed and runs WeSpeak, a structured treatment program for older children and teenagers with SM piloted in August 2016.

Dr. Avny is committed to improving the lives of youth with SM and their families at all levels – individual treatment, school advocacy, program development, conference presentations, and public education. She relies on evidence-based techniques and principles to guide her work, while using a flexible and individualized approach to meet each family’s needs.

Shelley Avny, PhD
Director of Training
Clinical Director of Mighty Mouth Kids and WeSpeak
Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC
57 W 57th St, Suite 1007
New York, NY 10019