Pennsylvania, United States


Pennsylvania, United States

Our Team

Our team is committed and dedicated to what we do at the Selective Mutism Research Institute. Our staff is the foundation of this institute and are passionate about understanding those with Selective Mutism and discovering more about the disorder itself.

Many of our Research Assistants are graduate students at La Salle University. We are so grateful to have this connection to such a wonderful institution and we thank them for their continued support and enthusiasm.

Our Team


Dr. Elisa Shipon Blum, D.O. is a board certified physician who specializes in Selective Mutism, social anxiety, extreme shyness, and related social communication disorders. She is the President & Director of the Selective Mutism Anxiety Research and Treatment Center (SMART Center) located in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. She is the Founder & Director Emeritus of the Selective Mutism Group (SMG) and a Director of the Selective Mutism Research Institute (SMRI). In addition, Dr. Shipon-Blum is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology & Family Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Shipon-Blum practices in Jenkintown, PA, and has developed the evidenced-based Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT)® from her years studying and researching individuals with Selective Mutism. She consults worldwide with families, treatment professionals, and educators, and has helped over four thousand children from around the world overcome Selective Mutism.

Dr. Shipon-Blum lectures throughout the country on the topic of Selective Mutism, performs school evaluations and trainings for treatment professionals, educators, and parents, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts in the treatment and understanding of Selective Mutism. She has been a featured expert on national television programs such as 20/20, CNN, Inside Edition, and Good Morning America, as well as other local, national, and international television and radio broadcasts. In addition, she has been featured in TIME Magazine, People Magazine and has interviewed with newspapers such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Diego Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Palm Beach Post.

In addition to her research she has written numerous articles and books on Selective Mutism and anxiety and has also produced numerous DVDs on the topics of treatment and assessment of Selective Mutism and the development of school accommodations and interventions for mute children. Notably, she is also the mother of a child, Sophie, who suffered from and overcame Selective Mutism and is the inspiration for the work she does each day.

Director of Clinical Research

Headshot RosemarieRosemarie Manfredi, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania and Delaware and a certified school psychologist in Pennsylvania. Dr. Manfredi completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Widener University, with concentrations in school psychology and neuropsychology. She completed an APA-accredited internship through Widener University, with rotations in a private practice in neuropsychology and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Department of Neurology. Dr. Manfredi then went on to complete a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). During her fellowship, Dr. Manfredi completed the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND) training program. Prior to joining the team at the Selective Mutism Research Institute (SMRI) and the SMart Center, Dr. Manfredi served as the Training Director for the Chestnut Hill College Internship Consortium, where she was responsible for the oversight of an internship for doctoral students in psychology, and as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Psy.D. program at Chestnut Hill College. She also provided psychological evaluations and consultations to local public and charter schools, diagnostic evaluations for military families and families receiving wraparound behavioral health services, and private psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations. Currently, Dr. Manfredi is the Director of Clinical Research for SMRI, and also serves as the Lead Psychologist Consultant to the SMart Center. Dr. Manfredi’s areas of expertise include neuropsychological and psychoeducational assessment for a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, social communication disorders, developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, traumatic and acquired brain injuries, and other genetic or neurological disorders.

Associated Researchers

Sharon Armstrong, Ph.D. is a Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of PsyD Research and Dissertations at La Salle University. She is Associate Faculty Member at Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science, Adjunct Scientist at Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, and Research Coordinator at the Selective Mutism Research Institute (SMRI). Dr. Armstrong’s specializations within Cognitive Science are psycholinguistics, concepts/categorization, reasoning, decision-making, and metacognition. Her research has investigated these topics in typical and special populations (e.g., children or adults with autism, selective mutism, schizophrenia, depression). She is a member of the Psychonomic Society, Selective Mutism Group, Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association (Experimental Psychology Division), Anxiety & Depression Association of America. She is a consulting editor for The Journal of General Psychology.

Evelyn Klein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-CL is a Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at La Salle University and a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist and licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania with post-doctoral training in neuropsychology. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Child Language from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and became an ASHA Fellow in 2009. Dr. Klein holds supervisory certification in special education from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 2011 she received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from La Salle University and in 2012 was awarded the Pennsylvania Clinical Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Klein teaches, supervises, and advises undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in speech-language pathology. Her areas of specialization include selective mutism, autism spectrum disorders, language-learning differences, acquired language disorders, stuttering, and counseling for communicative disorders. Recent research includes assessment practices and treatment efficacy for selective mutism, early literacy, and treatment for people who stutter. She is also an editorial reviewer for Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Journal of Fluency Disorders and has published numerous articles and professional products in the field. As a practicing clinician, Dr. Klein continues to evaluate and treat individuals with communication disorders and investigates speech and language skills in children with selective mutism. In addition to being a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Selective Mutism Association, she is a research consultant with the Selective Mutism Anxiety Research & Treatment Center (SMart Center) and the Selective Mutism Research Institute (SMRI).

Research Assistants

Sophie Blum, B.A. is a graduate from Franklin and Marshall College, where she studied neuroscience and psychology. She plans on attending medical school in the near future. Sophia had Selective Mutism herself at a young age and now speaks at local and national conferences on her experience overcoming SM. She has authored the book, Unspoken Words; a book to help children/teens and others understand what a child with Selective Mutism is feeing when they are not able to express it themselves. Currently, Sophia works at the Selective Mutism Research Institute assisting in various projects, including Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blums S-CAT® treatment manual.

Lauren Steinbeck, M.A. graduated, with honors, from Lafayette College, earning a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently in the third year of her Psy.D. program at La Salle University, and she recently completed requirements for her M.A. in Clinical Psychology. Lauren has provided outpatient therapy for a variety of children, adolescents and their families, and currently works with students at a boarding school in Chester County. Lauren’s previous research experience includes an investigation of the relationship between caregiving stress and mental health outcomes among parents of children with special needs, as well as research in developmental psychology examining what and how 17 to 28-month-old children can learn from interactions using video chat technology. Currently, Lauren’s research at the Selective Mutism Anxiety Research & Treatment Center (SMart Center) focuses on the impact of sensory processing difficulties on children with Selective Mutism, and she was honored to be able to present her research at the 2016 American Psychological Association (APA) Convention in Denver, CO. Lauren’s main clinical interests include children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety disorders and Selective Mutism. She is very excited to be a part of the SMart Center and SMRI team!

pictureLeah Bowden B.A. graduated from the University of Rochester, where she received a B.A. in Psychology and Brain & Cognitive Sciences. She is currently pursuing her Psy.D. at LaSalle University where she will specialize in the child clinical concentration. She has previously worked in in-patient facilities for children with a variety of mental health problems in Rochester, NY and London, England. She has also worked with children with Selective Mutism in New York City where she facilitated in treatment sessions, led therapy groups, and provided one-on-one therapy. Her previous research has focused on children with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as behavioral interventions for children with autism. She is very excited to further her work with children with Selective Mutism! 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-54-53-amKaterina Michaels, B.A. graduated, with honors, from the George Washington University, earning a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Fine Arts. She is currently pursuing her Psy.D. at La Salle University and intends on specializing in the child-clinical concentration. Katerina has a passion for working with kids, which has led to many years as a babysitter, sleep-away camp counselor and private tutor. While in college, she was an AmeriCorps Member, and participated in the JumpStart program in Washington, D.C., providing early education interventions to preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Katerina has been a counselor and a member of the head staff at Big Apple Day Program, a social skills summer treatment camp for children with social difficulties, that are most often, related to ADHD, Anxiety, ASD, LD, NVLD. Katerina’s main clinical interests include children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Selective Mutism, anxiety and mood disorders, and ADHD.