Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
METHODS OF SOCIAL SKILLS
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
Chris Segrin
Michelle Givertz
University of Arizona

An overwhelming body of evidence indicates that the possession of adequate social skills is necessary for maintaining social, psychological, and in many cases, occupational well-being. People who lack adequate social skills appear to be at risk for developing a truly amazing range of problems. In his seminal paper on the conceptualization of social skills, McFall (1982) noted that the documented association between social skills and different clinical problems “has become so widespread that it begins to strain our credibility and arouse our suspicions” (p. 2). Perhaps it follows logically that efforts to teach social skills have been applied so widely, to so many different populations, and as a treatment for so many different problems that they, too, are on the verge of straining believability. For example, social skills training has been used to treat schizophrenia (Smith, Bellack, & Liberman, 1996), social anxiety (Curran & Gilbert, 1975), loneliness (Adams, Openshaw, Bennion, Mills, & Noble, 1988), juvenile delinquency (Cunliffe, 1992), anorexia nervosa (Pillay & Crisp, 1981), alcoholism (Monti, Gulliver, & Myers, 1994), emotional and antisocial behavior problems in children (Verduyn, Lord, & Forrest, 1990), as well as depression (Becker, Heimberg, & Bellack, 1987). Aside from these clinical applications, social skills training has been used to improve the social and psychological functioning of people with mental retardation (Foxx & Faw, 1992) and diabetes (Gross, Johnson, Wildman, & Mullett, 1981) and to improve job performance in prisoners (Calabrese & Hawkins, 1988), increase marital satisfaction ( Jacobson, 1982), prevent drug abuse in adolescents (Tobler, Lessard, Marshall, Ochshorn, & Roona, 1999), and enhance adolescent friendships (Inderbitzen-Pisaruk & Foster, 1990).

As evident from this partial list of applications, over the past several decades social skills training has begun to take on the status of a “cure-all” and “universal protector. ” On closer examination, however, it becomes rapidly evident that “social skills training” is at best a loosely defined concept that takes on a variety of forms and functions, some examples of which have little in common with others.

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