Social Skills Training Aids Functioning of Troubled Adolescents. (Use Learning-Based CBT)

Article excerpt

New YORK -- Social skills deficits are common among adolescents, particularly those with psychiatric problems, and re-mediation can be a "very helpful" intervention, Dr. Allen Fay said at the annual meeting of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry.

Social skills training usually is addressed by educators and counselors, but "I maintain it is within the province of psychiatric treatment," said Dr. Fay of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.

Clinicians can use learning-based cognitive-behavioral techniques to help patients develop social competence, a key element in adolescent mental health, he said. Among hospitalized patients, the level of premorbid social adjustment is the best predictor of a patient's ability to function after being discharged, regardless of the diagnosis or the treatment regimen used.

But many troubled adolescents lack social skills, because of poor family and peer modeling, personality variables such as shyness, or their psychiatric disorders.

Among the most relevant social skills are assertiveness, the ability to bring out desired qualities in others, affect regulation, appropriate self-disclosure, and active listening. These can be taught along with nonverbal skills, such as appropriate eye contact, facial expression, and gestures, that facilitate satisfactory social relations.

Training in assertiveness--the ability to express one's feelings and desires, to ask for what one wants and to resist exploitation without undue guilt, anxiety, or compromise of the rights and feelings of others-can be particularly useful in eliminating maladaptive behaviors.

"It's as much for aggressive as unassertive persons, Dr. …


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