Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING AS A THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION

The negative affects of schizophrenia and psychotic episodes erode the person’s confidence and ability to socialise. Their interactive skills become blunted and they become anxious in larger groups and understandably avoid these situations. Social skills training (SST) aims to reduce isolation and loneliness and increase self confidence and self-esteem. The model developed by Argyle and Kendon considers social skills training as skills that have to be ‘learned and practised’, and mental health practitioners are to attempt to identify deficits in service users’ social skills. Using role modelling, the practitioners can demonstrate the skills the service user with schizophrenia requires so that they can learn and practice these in everyday life.

Murgatroyd states that the aims of SST should be:

• to provide a safe environment in which to practise and develop social skills

• to be in a position of a helper/facilitator so that the person with schizophrenia can give feedback; this relationship is vital when providing feedback (the ability to accept constructive criticism comes with confidence building)

• to replicate activities of daily living such as initiating conversation and interacting with others in a safe environment, then repeat these scenarios in real life. Howard promotes the use of an ‘evening club’ within the community which meets one day per week to provide service users with a forum and a bridge between residential and community care. She reports commitment and

success from the group, recommending flexibility and creative facilitation as key skills in the process.

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