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Social Skills Among Psychiatric Patient


Social skills are defined as the ability to express positive & negative feelings in the interpersonal context without suffering loss of interpersonal reinforcement. In addition, it is demonstrated in a variety of interpersonal contexts which involves the coordinated delivery of appropriate verbal & nonverbal responses.
Social skills should be appropriate to the situation of communication. Different social skills will be used for professional and personal communication. It can be identified as certain types of behaviour whereby an individual can be judged on how socially skilled they are.
Social skills can be taught, practiced and learned. Somebody that uses social skills to effectively interact with friends, family, workmates and strangers is said to have social competence.

Social Deficit
Social Skills Deficits   is very common in persons with psychosis or schizophrenia.    Common deficits involve

  • nonverbal & verbal skills (behavior),
  • social problem solving (thoughts),
  • attitude toward social interaction or other people (thoughts) and
  • emotions management (feelings).

Among of the reason involve

  • lack of interest or need in social interaction,
  • premorbid personality,
  • impact of psychotic symptoms,
  • perceptual dysfunction,
  • cognitive disabilities
  • incongruence in emotions,
  • loss of skills over course of illness or
  • difficulty in acquiring new skills.

Social skill deficit may increase social isolation within family and society, difficulty in making friends and obtaining support, problem in getting and maintaining a job and contributing low self esteem and dignity.


Social Skill Training (SST)
The main purpose of social skills training is teaching persons who may or may not have emotional problems about the verbal as well as nonverbal behaviors involved in social interactions.
Another goal of social skills training is improving a patient’s ability to function in everyday social situations.
Many Psychiatric patients have never coached on interpersonal skills such as skills in asking questions, expressing the feelings and opinions or understanding an important in having eye contact when talking with others.
This training will help to improve social competence, role functioning and community reintegration.
The process  that be used in Social Skill Training involve :

  • Introducing: what the skill is, why it’s important to learn it, how to teach it.
  • The process usually begin by dividing complex social context to small parts.
  • It is sorted by level of difficulty and gradually introduced to the patient, for example therapists help patients learn by providing a list of training in specific situations such as making friends, job hunting or relating with family.


  • Modelling Techniques
  • Therapist may use live or video demonstrations in helping patient to gain the skills needed
  • Help them to identify key elements and discuss why it is successful.
  • He may use good and bad models for contrast.


  • Role play
  • This technique provide opportunities for clients to practice skill in a secure environment and it give a chance for therapist to provide coaching.
  • He will set up situation clearly, assign a specific roles, elicit observations & provide feedback and discuss implications of role play.
  • Some of important skills which need to be acquired are :
    • Listening to others
    • Making requests
    • Express positive feelings
    • Express negative feelings
  • The goal of this therapy is that when a person’s social skills were    getting better or successfully improve a particular behavior, it will increase their self confident and increase the probability of gaining better reaction by others.
  1. Planning Implementation:
  • the patient will be guided through practice and homework.
  • The Therapist will also assist them in transferring and practicing their skills in natural environment.

Family tips

  • It is important for family members to provide care and always consider the mentally ill patient are part of them.
  • They need to ensure that patients are always involved in activities at home and within society.
  • This will help them to experience true socialization and indirectly reducing the stigma .
  • Patients can be given a certain role in carrying out the tasks at home such as buying goods from the market or paying house bills. This activity will help them  to actively interact with others and improve their social network.
  • Social activity at home can be done in a relax and comfortable  manners such as eating together, food preparation, grocery shopping, gardening and many more.
  • Family members can act as a role model in social skills training. Support can be given in a form of encouragement for patients to work, better communication and understanding the patient’s need. 
Last Reviewed :  30 April 2018
Writer : Mohd Farizal Bin Jaffar
Accreditor : Peremalatha A/P Sundram