What is social skills training?
Some of the most significant impacts of psychological issues upon both children and adults are the effects upon social contact and relationships. Its humans we are social creatures that really thrive on interaction with others. Social isolation can be a leading cause of depression. Whilst for some people social skills come naturally, others need to learn specific skills through psychotherapy, in order to be able to function optimally in a social context.
Social skills include both verbal and non-verbal behaviours, that we use in order to communicate with others. Social skills can be affected by culture, beliefs and attitudes, hence social skill training needs to keep this in mind.
Example of important social skills include:
- Eye contact
- Appropriate facial expressions (eg. smiling at others when greeting them)
- Appropriate social gestures (eg. shaking hands when meeting someone)
- Using the right tone and volume of voice
- Assertiveness. Eg. expressing opinions without being too domineering or passive
- Correctly reading others body language and emotions
- Responding appropriately to others
- Using the correct type of language in certain situations and with certain people (eg. manners and more formal language with superiors)
- Knowing how to navigate social media correctly
- Understanding humour and subtleties of language such as sarcasm.
Who can benefit?
Social skill training is mainly used for people that are diagnosed with certain psychological issues, whose symptoms involve poor social functioning. These include but are not limited to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and social anxiety. However, anyone who wants to improve their social skills and social confidence can benefit from this type of therapy.
Although social skill training can be very effective in helping people learn necessary social skills, it is very rare for it to be a stand alone therapy. There are always underlying reasons why people are experiencing social difficulty and these too need to be treated, either with cognitive therapy, neurofeedback, more general psychological therapy, or even in some cases with medication.
What does social skill training involve?
(1) Identifying the problem underlying the social issues
(2) Setting goals for therapy
(3) Modelling of certain behaviours & role playing
(4) Practice and feedback
(5) Homework challenges
Specific social skill training for children & adults on the autism spectrum:
Social skills for social anxiety:
Social phobia is a subtype of anxiety disorder, regarding the fear of social situations. A person may have social phobia since childhood, or it may have developed throughout adolescence or adulthood. Regardless of the cause, social skill training alone will not fix the situation, and needs to be done conjunction with cognitive behaviour therapy or another type of psychological therapy in order to treat the underlying condition.
- Eye contact
- Sharing & reciprocal behaviour.
- Sustaining conversations
- Training in theory of mind (understanding things from others points of view)