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Schizophr Bull. 1986;12(4):631-47.

Training skills in the psychiatrically disabled: learning coping and competence.


Social skills training methods represent a major strategy for psychiatric rehabilitation. Building skills in patients with schizophrenic and other major mental disorders is based on the assumption that coping and competence can override stress and vulnerability in reducing relapses and improving psychosocial functioning. For maximum efficiency, skills training needs to incorporate procedures and principles of human learning and information processing. Several models for skills training have been designed and evaluated, each of which has proved to be effective in raising the social competence of chronic mental patients. The "basic" model involves role playing by the patient and modeling, prompting, feedback, and reinforcement by the therapist. A "problem-solving" model of training provides general strategies for dealing with a wide variety of social situations. This model uses role playing to enhance behavioral performance but also highlights the patient's abilities to perceive and process incoming social messages and meanings. It is essential that social skills training be imbedded in a comprehensive program of rehabilitation that features continuity of care, supportive community services, therapeutic relationships, and judicious prescription of psychotropic drugs.

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