Marie-France Renaud first achieved her Bachelor’s degree in Sexology, with a specialty in school and social education. Her initial goal was to become an international cyber-predation prevention expert working with Inter-Pol. To that end, she supplemented her degree with a minor concentration in Criminology and one in Victimology. In the interest of furthering her goals and accreditation, Marie-France studied Communication Science at a Master’s level. She integrated International, Organizational, and Psycho-Sociological concentrations into that program, while conducting an ethnographic study on policing culture. She did intend to pursue a Policing career and at that point, Marie-France was already a communication consultant for the Québec police Institute. One of her roles was to train instructors and experienced police officers to become aware of how the fight or flight response influenced their communication ability during critical interventions while using verbal or physical force.
Marie-France took a leave from this pursuit to become the mother of five children and revisited her skills to become again a communication consultant/therapist for couples, teenagers and children. She also specialized as a consultant for dentists; working as an anxiety prevention therapist both for dental teams and their reluctant patients.
During this time, an event changed the course of Marie-France’s life when she became aware a young child in her immediate family was suffering from severe selective mutism (SM). Even as a trained therapist herself, Marie-France was puzzled by the condition and overwhelmed with the lack of awareness professionals demonstrated when her family member took their child for evaluation. Pediatricians, Neuropsychologists and Speech Therapists did not know this condition existed; and were completely unable to offer support or direction.
Marie-France contacted the only French information resource available, ouvrirlavoix.org (there was no information in French Canada on SM), and smg.org. (which she connot say enough good about). This started her SM education. She attended a Chicago conference in the summer 2010 and realized that SM was a condition unknown by the general public and professionals all over the World.
At that point, Marie-France’s primary objective became, to help the child in her family (which is going very well) and completely invest her professional career to this cause that needs many more voices to inform Canadians about this very challenging childhood condition.
First off, Marie-France has openned a treatment clinic in Vaudreuil, Québec and another one will follow in Cornwall, Ontario. She is the founding Director of the Canadian Society for Selective Mutism whose goal is to securely connect Canadian population in SM awareness (Parents and adults children, teens, professionals, support groups, province coordinators and researchers) and to help Canadian SM Leaders share knowledge and be well engaged in the international SM community.
Marie-France has returned to school again to complete a second Communication Science Masters program; but this time in the new «social- health » concentration. She plans to build a Pan-Canadian awareness campaign, and advocate children’s rights within schools systems and governments. She will pursue her PHD next fall and conduct an extensive study herself on SM profiles and neurosciences in conjunction with several communicationnal therapeutic approaches.
Today she is a practicing therapist for SM and works with other professionals who have trained to work with SM sufferers; advocating a team approach and adapts the type of therapy that is the ideally suitable for family and children’s profiles. She also hosts conferences and trains schools professionals on the subject. And will participate in producing several books accessible in both French and English. She would like to also produce quality technological support to help therapists and school professionnals in making our SM population participate as they would like to and enjoy themselves in every spheres of their co-existing worlds.
Finally Marie-France will co-produce documentaries and media related educationnal programs dedicated to the general public to rise SM existence and awareness and make it recognized by all our society’s actors. Marie-France is very concerned about our SM population’s safety both in real life and on the Web and will always concentrate in making security awareness as important of an issue as SM itself. Prevention and empowerment is and always will be a priority in all her actions and publications.
Marie-France Renaud, M.A.