15. ‘She just doesn’t talk in school’. Reluctant Speakers and Selective Mutism | 2024

Learn how to understand and support a young person who is a reluctant speaker using a variety of psychological concepts, strategies and resources.

Teachers know that some students can really struggle with communication and that some may be reluctant or even avoidant of speaking in the classroom at all. It can be difficult to know how to support, include or assess students who are reluctant speakers. This course is designed to equip teachers with the understanding, tools and strategies they need to help these students succeed. We'll explore the reasons behind why some student present as reluctant speakers or with selective mutism, as well as the various ways it can manifest in the school environment. By taking this course, your will be equipped with practical strategies for promoting communication, building confidence, and reducing anxiety in these students. Ultimately, this course will help educators create a safe and supportive classroom environment, where all students feel heard and safe to share their thoughts and ideas.


Here is a list of the modules in this course, with the learning outcomes of each. We also build in School Self Evaluation into all courses, making the SSE Process as smooth as possible:

Module 1: What is Anxiety and Reluctant Speaking. : Participants will:

  • learn about the key psychological theories related to anxiety.
  • explore reluctant speaking and selective mutism (RS/SM) as a manifestation of anxiety.

Module 2: Responding to reluctant speakers. Participants will:

  • Learn a variety of strategies and techniques to effectively support and communicate with a reluctant speaker.
  • learn how to create the right classroom environment to encourage speaking.

Module 3: How to support and encourage speaking. Part 1. Participants will:

  • explore a range of strategies and activities to create a calm, connected and safe classroom environment
  • learn practical strategies to encourage speech using a stepped approach at the child’s pace.

Module 4: How to support and encourage speaking. Part 2. Participants will:

  • Learn practical strategies to encourage speech using a stepped approach at the child’s pace.
  • Learn to support and encourage speech including some useful resources and tools.

Module 5: A whole school approach. Participants will:

  • Consider how to implement learnt strategies at a whole school level.
  • Explore parents’ experiences and how to work with parents and other external supports.

Your Instructor

Susan Quain
Susan Quain

Susan started her career as a Primary School Teacher and spent over 10 years working in a large urban special school, where she simultaneously completed her BSc in Psychology part-time through the Open University. In 2021, Susan changed careers, moving from education to psychology working firstly as an Assistant Psychologist on a HSE Primary Care Psychology Team, where she regularly facilitated groups for children experiencing mental health difficulties and for parents, carers and school staff supporting them. She then worked as an Assistant Psychologists on a specialist service within TUSLA that provide therapeutic interventions for young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour and their families.

Susan completed a Research Masters in 2024 related to the effective delivery of RSE to prevent incidents of inappropriate and/or harmful sexual behaviour by young people with intellectual disabilities. She has also tutored and taught psychology part-time in Mary Immaculate College and in the University of Limerick. Susan will be starting her doctoral training in Clinical Psychology in September 2024.

Course Curriculum

Get started now!