How SST Works
How SST Works – Identification of the problem
First, the therapist will identify the main problems that your child experiences in terms of social skills. For example, your child may be afraid of participating in group interactions or is facing difficulty in articulating themselves in front of authoritative figures. They may find it hard to make friends or understand hidden cues during a conversation, making it difficult to relate with others. The therapist may take a couple of sessions before identifying a specific problem. They may do so by observing your child in different settings, like the school or home, and talking or discussing with them the kind of difficulty they experience.
Usually, struggles with social skills happen due to some underlying, unapparent and unidentified factors. For example, children with learning disabilities have experiences where they have been frequently called “dumb” or “stupid”, which severely affects their self-esteem. So, they might be afraid to speak in class due to the fear of being deemed “stupid” again, or due to their low self-esteem, they may feel that they do not have anything significant to say. Therefore, it is essential to identify any underlying psychological issues before starting therapy to plan a comprehensive treatment.
How SST Works – Setting Goals
After identification, the next step is to develop long-term and short-term goals to improve your child’s social skills. The therapist will also introduce and explain the techniques that your child will need to accomplish the set goals. Your child and the therapist will work together to set up weekly or bi-weekly goals until the next appointment. The therapist usually explains to them the broader aim of these small, specific goals in the long-term to understand the significance of these goals. Knowing the broader objective can also prove beneficial when your child feels like giving up because they would be aware that all they are doing is building towards something more significant.
How SST Works – Modelling, Role-playing, and Corrective Feedback
Modelling is the educational component of SST, where the therapist explains and demonstrates the facets of a particular type of behaviour for the child before they attempt it themselves. The modelling process includes both verbal and non-verbal behaviours because your child precisely needs to know what they are to do before trying out independently.
After modelling comes role-play. Once your child has seen what they are supposed to do, they play it out before the therapist. Role-playing is a vital part of social skills training because without practising the skill first, it may be challenging for them to use it outside the security of a closed therapy session. Also, the therapist can provide the necessary feedback, like what may need improvement, encourage things done correctly and tell your child what may require extra practice. This way, your child becomes aware of their strong points and their weaknesses.
How SST Works – Home Assignments
The therapist may give your child weekly assignments to practise the skills learnt in therapy, starting with low-pressure, less-ambitious tasks that help your child gain confidence in using those skills outside of training sessions.
Social skills therapy helps your child acquire the skills they need to make fruitful connections with others. SST teaches your child about appropriate social interactions, such as introducing themselves, starting a conversation, or joining a discussion. Role-playing with the therapist or a group teaches your child about boundaries and expected behaviours in various settings. SST focus on teaching your child how to resolve conflict, compromise and negotiate; thus, improving the quality of your child’s interactions with peers and their capacity to develop friendships.