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Help Your Child Overcome Selective Mutism

Registration is now open! Space is limited, and enrollment is on a first-registered, first-served basis.

About Brave Buddies®

The Child Mind Institute has perfected our evidence-based methods over 13 years, with a unique approach to helping children with selective mutism overcome anxiety and speak publicly. Since 2009, we’ve evaluated more children with selective mutism (SM) than any other care center in the world.

Brave Buddies® is designed to help children ages 3–12 and diagnosed with selective mutism overcome their anxiety and speak in any setting. Brave Buddies® is offered as a multi-day intensive program twice a year, and as one-day sessions several times throughout the year.

August Five-Day <br>Brave Buddies® Program

August Five-Day
Brave Buddies® Program

  • Date: Monday, August 5 – Friday August 9, 2024
  • Hours: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Location: Allen-Stevenson School, 132 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10075
  • Cost for the five-day, in-person program: $3,250 (fee includes parent training sessions)
  • Ages: Children ages 3 through 12 and diagnosed with SM are invited to join Brave Buddies®. Please see eligibility guidelines below.

“Brave Buddies® exceeded our expectations. By the end of the week our daughter had the confidence to order her own food, initiate conversations with her new friends, and even present in front of an audience!”

Is Your Child Eligible for Brave Buddies®?

Both the one-day and multi-day programs are open to current, former, and new patients. Brave Buddies® is one component of our comprehensive treatment approach for SM. Most children require some individual treatment before starting the group. However, prior individual treatment does not need to be provided by the Child Mind Institute. Before the start of the program, our clinical team will conduct an initial evaluation and communicate with each child’s individual care team to understand the child’s progress in prior treatment and determine eligibility.

All children should be toilet-trained and able to make it through the five-hour program without nap time. Families of children not eligible for Brave Buddies® should call 212.308.3118 for more information, as we offer a number of other treatment options.

What Makes Brave Buddies® Different from Other Selective Mutism Programs?


Real-World Applicability

We make it as easy as possible for children to use skills from the program year-round. Our classroom-like setting allows children to practice verbal participation, or what we call “brave talking,” in a safe and familiar environment. We provide ample speaking opportunities both in and out of the classroom, encouraging children to continue speaking publicly when the week is over.


Individualized Curriculum

We tailor speaking goals to the individual needs of each child, targeting things like presenting, spontaneous speech, larger group interactions, and community exposures. There is a special curriculum for the older children (8 through 12) who participate in the program, which incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies, such as mindfulness, education about anxiety, and goal setting. We help every participating child gain confidence — whatever that means for them, specifically.


Expert Instruction

Brave Buddies® is led by a team of world-class professionals with a variety of specialties. All staff and counselors are highly trained in PCIT-SM, the evidence-based treatment we use to help with brave talking. There is a trained adult for every 1-2 children.


Empowering Parents

Parent training sessions are an integral part of Brave Buddies®. We teach parents the skills kids are learning in the program and help them look for opportunities to reinforce those skills at home. We then provide live coaching for parents as they practice the skills.

Lead-In Sessions

Lead-in sessions are required as part of Brave Buddies® as they improve the likelihood of a child’s success in the program. Depending on each child’s needs, lead-ins may be a single session or multiple sessions completed over consecutive days. These crucial sessions are conducted prior to the first day of the five-day program.

Lead-in sessions for August 2024 Brave Buddies® will be held on Thursday, August 1 and Friday, August 2. These are charged at the clinician’s rate and not included in the overall program cost.

Travel Plans

Children travel from all over the world to attend this one-of-a-kind program. Some families may be eligible for the Child Mind Institute Cares Fund, which offers a daily stipend for travel expenses. Please click here for our list of places to stay and here for directions to our Midtown office (for families participating in the one-day session).

Cancellation Policy

All programs: We require a 50% deposit to secure your child’s spot in any of our Brave Buddies® programs, taken upon registration. No refunds will be issued if the program moves to a virtual format once it has started.

Multi-day programs: If a participant cannot attend a multi-day program and a Brave Buddies® coordinator is notified 30 days prior to the start date of the program, a refund will be issued, excluding a $300 non-refundable deposit for administrative fees. If less than 30 days’ notification is given, no refund will be provided.

One-day programs: If a participant cannot attend a one-day program and a Brave Buddies® coordinator is notified at least 14 days prior to the start date of the program, a refund will be issued, excluding a $60 non-refundable deposit for administrative fees. If less than 14 days’ notification is given, no refund will be provided.


Our Team

Meet the Team

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate in Brave Buddies®?

Children diagnosed with selective mutism (SM) between the ages 3-12 years old are invited to join the Brave Buddies® program. Multi-day programs are open to current, former and new patients who have been determined to be eligible by the clinical team at the Child Mind Institute.

Your child does not need to be a current or prior patient at the Child Mind Institute to participate in the Brave Buddies® weeklong program. For new families, a screening appointment by video call with a member of our clinical staff will help determine if Brave Buddies® is appropriate for your child.

Do you treat children older than 12?

Yes, we absolutely do! However, the Brave Buddies® program is for children up to age 12. Please call us at 212.392.1435 to discuss the treatments we offer, which include traditional individual treatment, intensive treatments, and school consultation. Our clinicians will develop a tailored treatment plan to address your child’s individual needs.

Do you offer any assistance to families who cannot afford the program?

Yes, qualifying families may be eligible for financial aid. Please request a separate Child Mind Institute Financial Aid Application when you speak to our team about Brave Buddies®. We will review your completed application and then establish your fee based on demonstrated financial need. Awards are made on a first-applied, first-served basis. For those families who qualify for financial aid and are traveling from out of town, the Child Mind Institute Cares Fund may offer a daily stipend for travel expenses.

Will insurance cover the fees?

The Child Mind Institute does not participate as an in-network provider for any specific health insurance plan. Most insurance companies will cover a portion of the fees under “out-of-network, outpatient mental health benefits.” We will provide you with a detailed statement of services provided for you to submit your claim directly to your insurance carrier. We suggest consulting your insurance carrier in advance for the specific benefits of your plan.

Who are the staff and what is the ratio of counselors to children?

Our staff consists of specially trained clinicians, such as psychologists and social workers. We also intensively train volunteers in our evidence-based approaches so they can help support the program as counselors. Children are paired with trained adults at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.

What is a typical day like at Brave Buddies®?

Brave Buddies® follows the format of a typical school day, allowing children many opportunities to practice real-life challenges, including morning meeting, peer to peer activities, show-and-tell or group presentations, community exposures and much more. Children earn “brave bucks” for their talking and hard work, which they can turn in for prizes at the end of the day. We build on the previous day’s wins to continue your child’s progress during the week. For older children (8-12), we incorporate age-appropriate activities, such as education about the nature of anxiety, goal setting, and mindfulness.

What is the purpose of lead-in sessions?

Lead-in sessions are an opportunity for your child to practice his or her brave talking before participating in the Brave Buddies® group program. These sessions also allow your child to meet other Brave Buddies® participants and counselors before the program begins. Additionally, these sessions allow the Brave Buddies® leaders to better determine initial counselor matches for your child.

What are the payments, cancellation and refund policies?

We require a 50% deposit to secure your child’s spot in either program. If a participant cannot attend the multi-day program, and a Brave Buddies® coordinator is notified within 30 days prior to the start of the program, a refund will be issued, minus a $300 non-refundable deposit for administrative fees. If less than 30 days notification is given, no refund will be provided. For the one-day programs, we require notification 14 days prior to the start date for a refund, excluding a $60 non-refundable deposit for administrative fees.

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More Anxiety Treatments & Services

Our Anxiety Disorders Center also offers the following specialized group treatment programs and services.

Social Anxiety Groups

Group treatment that teaches children, adolescents and young adults coping skills to help them manage their anxiety as they practice facing their social fears. Ages 9-24.


Parents of Anxious Children and Teens (PACT)

Interactive webinar series providing families and caretakers with evidence-based, practical strategies for supporting children and teens ages 3-13 struggling with anxiety.


Intensive OCD Treatment

An intensive treatment program for those struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders including chronic tic disorders, hoarding and trichotillomania. Ages 5-24.


Not Sure Where to Start?

Request an appointment at the Child Mind Institute to get your child evaluated by one of our expert clinicians today.