As humans, we are all programmed to want to be connected to others. We yearn to be understood, accepted, and loved. Despite this universal desire, many people struggle with social and communication skills. This area of deficit can make it a real challenge to feel meaningfully connected to others and can lead to depression, anxiety, and reduced self-esteem. Social Skills learning offers these individuals new ways of interacting with others so that they can feel connected.
Social Skill development should be compared to building muscle memory. It requires doing an activity again and again in order to generalize the skill. That is why, at the Counseling Center of MarylandTM (CCM), we build our Social Skills curriculum around three major principles: Repetition, Frequency, and Consistency.
Research has shown that the typical outpatient social skills group has little-to-no efficacy. Most of these curricula are structured around teaching and then practicing particular skills. Although this method might seem promising in theory, it is rarely effective in practice. The typical social skills group focuses only on the rote skill, rather than prompting the group members to consider why these skills matter. At CCM, we know how important this “why” is to social thinking. We have structured our social skills curriculum to include this essential component. Our group (rather than therapist) selects its topics (from a selection) and comes up with ideas and strategies. We then begin using the skill, again and again. Our spiral method of learning allows us to practice a skill and then continually come back to it for generalization.
We also offer process groups. Process groups create a microcosm (miniature version) of an individual’s life (outside the group). In this group setting, individuals can learn and practice new ways of interacting with others. In addition, they will receive feedback from group members to assist them in reaching their goals in interpersonal relationships.