Learning Social skills consists of learning activities utilizing behavioral techniques that enable persons with disabling mental disorders to acquire interpersonal disease management and independent living skills for improved functioning in their respective communities & societies. A large and growing body of research supports the efficacy and effectiveness of social skills training for mental illnesses & disorders. When the type and frequency of training is linked to the phase of the disorder, patients in psychiatric hospitals can learn and retain a wide variety of social and independent living skills. Generalization of the skills for use in everyday life occurs when patients at psychiatric hospitals are provided with opportunities, encouragement, and reinforcement for practicing the skills in relevant situations. Recent advances in skills training include special adaptations and applications for improved generalization of training into the community, short-term stays in psychiatric inpatient units, dually diagnosed substance abusing mentally ill, minority groups, amplifying supported employment, treatment refractory schizophrenia, older adults, overcoming cognitive deficits, and negative symptoms as well as the inclusion of social skills training as part of multidimensional treatment and rehabilitation programs being undertaken at psychiatric hospitals.
Given the key role of effective communication in obtaining one’s needs for normal community functioning, social competence is essential for a satisfactory quality of life. “Social competence” can be defined as the “ability to achieve legitimate, personally relevant goals” through interacting with others in all situations: work, school, home and neighborhood, recreation, shopping and consumer services, medical and mental care. In contrast, “social skills” represent the “constituent behaviors” which, when combined in appropriate sequences and used with others in appropriate ways and places, enable an individual to have the success in daily living reflected by social competence.
Skills are the raw material of social competence and comprise the full range of human social performance: verbal, nonverbal, and paralinguistic behaviors; accurate social perception; effective processing of social information to make decisions and responses that conform to the normative, reasonable expectations of situations, and rules of society; assertiveness; conversational skills; skills related to management and stabilization of one’s mental disorder and expressions of empathy, affection, sadness, and other emotions that are appropriate to the context and expectations of other patients at the psychiatric hospital. In summary, social skills represent the topography of social interaction, whereas social competence reflects the accumulation of self-efficacy and real-world success through experiencing the favorable consequences of interactions within the psychiatric hospital.
The term “skills”—in contrast to the term “abilities”—implies that they are predominantly based on learning experiences. Thus, social skills training utilizes behavior therapy principles and techniques for teaching individuals to communicate their emotions and requests so that they are more likely to achieve their goals and meet their needs for affinitive relationships and roles required for independent living. This modality of treatment at psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centers has been empirically validated for a broad range of mental disorders and other psychological problems. Because of its protean and generic applications to such disparate functions as family psycho-education, behavioral marital therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy, social skills training can be best defined by its operational components inside psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centres and psychiatric nursing homes, such as the ones being successfully run by Tulasi’s Group of Psychiatric Hospitals.