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Social Skills Training in Individual Therapy
This treatment focuses on skills in meeting other people, starting and maintaining conversations, acting effectively in a variety of social situations, and starting and strengthening relationships. Social skills training treatment can be used with a number of psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, which can inhibit social interaction and interfere with the learning of appropriate social behavior.
Social Skills Training begins with a thorough assessment of interpersonal skills deficits. Sometimes these deficits are in the knowledge of appropriate social behavior, and sometimes the individual knows the appropriate behavior, but is inhibited from engaging in the behavior due to anxiety. In the latter case, the deficit involves a lack of tolerance of discomfort. Deficits can range from more basic skills, such as making eye contact, to more complex sets of skills, such as how to initiate a friendship, ask someone on a date, or say no to a request.
Once deficits are identified, a treatment plan is developed to enhance skill use. This often begins with the therapist modeling or performing the skill with the patient. Then, role-plays are enacted with the patient. This allows the patient to receive direct feedback from the therapist, and correct any problems prior to experimenting with the skills outside of the therapy session. Role-plays are helpful because they facilitate practicing new social behaviors in an anxiety-free environment. This makes developing comfort with the skills faster, making it easier to use the skill in actual situations. Finally, the patient uses the skills in actual situations, mastering the most basic skills first, then moving on to more complex skills with the guidance and support of the therapist.