Title  Handbook for Social Skill Development with Children and Adolescents: From Research to Practice

The contents and key references are provided below.

Chapter 1 Theoretical rationale and evidence base

Chapter 1 provides a guided tour of the theoretical rationale and evidence base for social skills training with children and young people. The literature is surveyed and summarised with the addition of up-to-date comment on Social Skill Development techniques and applications which may assist with a variety of specific presenting problems experienced by children and young people.

Key reference

  • Spence SH (2003). Social skills training with children and young people: theory, evidence, and practice. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Vol 8, 2, 84–96.

Chapter 2 Assessment approaches: evidence base

Assessment approaches include questionnaires, role-playing, visual material, vignettes, and sociometric procedures. This chapter provides an introduction to the evidence base, with some discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Examples of the use of assessment measures in research are provided.

Key references

  • Gresham FM, Elliott SN, Cook CR, Vance MJ, & Kettler R (2010). Cross-informant agreement for ratings for social skill and problem behavior ratings: An investigation of the Social Skills Improvement System–Rating Scales. Psychological Assessment, 22, 1, 157–166.
  • Matson JL and Wilkins J (2009). Psychometric testing methods for children’s social skills. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 30, 2, 249–274.

Chapter 3 Social skills training with individual children and young people.

General principles of intervention are outlined. The importance of tailoring an intervention to a child or young person’s needs is emphasised. The chapter covers microskills (such as eye contact), assertiveness, interpersonal problem-solving and dealing with negative social cognitions, providing illustrative examples.

Key reference

  • Bulkeley R and Cramer D (1994). Social skills training with young adolescents: group and individual approaches in a school setting. Journal of Adolescence, 17, 521–531.

Chapter 4 Group social skills development

This chapter addresses the key ingredients of successful group social skills packages such as roleplay, feedback, coaching, and homework setting; session plans and examples are included, and the skills required for group facilitators will be delineated. Photocopiable programmes and guidance on a psychodynamic approach are provided in appendices.

Key reference

  • Reichow B and Volmar FR (2010). Social skills interventions for individuals with autism: Evaluation for evidence-based practices within a best evidence synthesis framework. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 2, 14966.

Chapter 5 Social skills development for children with communication difficulties on the autistic spectrum

Difficulties with social communication are characteristic of children identified as belonging to this client group. Highly structured and appropriately tailored social skills approaches can assist these children in adapting to social situations and building positive social relationships. Techniques for working with this client group are discussed and illustrated by examples.

Key references

  • Bauminger N (2007a). Brief report: individual social-multi-modal intervention for HFASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1591604.
  • Bauminger N (2007b). Brief report: group social-multi-modal intervention for HFASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1601615.

Chapter 6 Helping young people to learn prosocial behaviour

Throughout this chapter the importance of supplementing individual or group work with interventions in the system and social context is emphasised; this is crucial to the learning process and to generalisation.

Section A: Younger children

Younger children who are beginning to present with patterns of ‘challenging behaviour’ can be helped to learn appropriate assertiveness, anger management and negotiation skills through a Social Skill Development  approach. Children suffering from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may benefit from similar techniques..

Key references

  • Webster-Stratton C, Reid J and Hammond M (2001). Social skills and problem-solving for children with early-onset conduct problems: who benefits? Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 42(7), 943–52.
  • Grizenko MD, Zappitelli M, Langevin JP, Hrychko S, El-Messidi A, Kaminester D, Pawliuk N and Stepanian MT (2000). Effectiveness of a social skills training programme using self/other perspective-taking: a nine-month follow-up. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(4).

Section B: Adolescents

Adolescents at risk of offending can be helped to form more appropriate social cognitions and avoid recourse to aggression. Techniques for working with this client group are discussed and illustrated by examples.

Key references

  • Goldstein AP, Carr EG, Davidson WS and Wehr P (1981). In response to aggression: methods of control and prosocial alternatives. New York: Pergamon.
  • Hansen J, Nangle DW and Meyer KA (1998). Enhancing the effectiveness of social skills interventions with adolescents. Education and Treatment of Children, 21, 4, 48513.
  • van Manem TG, Prins JM and Emmelcamp PMG (2001). Assessing social cognitive skills in aggressive children from a developmental perspective: the social cognitive skills test. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 8, 5, 34–351.

Chapter 7 Social Anxiety

This chapter explores how individuals suffering from social anxiety, including those with complex needs, may be helped by Social Skill Development techniques to overcome stigma, generate self-confidence and operate successfully in a range of social situations.

Key references

  • Masia CL, et al. (2001). School-based behavioural treatment for social anxiety disorder in adolescence: results of a pilot study. J Amer. Acad. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 78786.
  • Beidel DC, Turner SM and Brennan J (2006). Social Effectiveness Therapy for Children: Five Years Later. Behavior Therapy, 37, 4, 41425.

Chapter 8 Bullying: Clinical and Systemic Interventions

This chapter addresses the issue of developing Social Skill programmes in schools and clinics with a focus on helping the victims of bullying. Techniques discussed  include assertiveness training, role-play and the multi-systemic approach.

Key references

  • Smith, PK and Sharp S (1994). School bullying: insights and perspectives. Routledge.
  • Crawford AM and Manassis K (2011). Anxiety, social skills, friendship quality and peer victimisation: An integrated model. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 10, 92931.
  • Wolke D, Schreier A, Zanarini MC and Winsper C (2012). Bullied by peers in childhood and borderline personality symptoms at 11 years of age: A prospective study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 8, 84855.

Chapter 9  Interventions in Education

In this chapter theories of social and emotional competence are reviewed and approaches to Social Skill intervention are described within an educational context.

Chapter 10  Overview

This chapter  reviews the issue of ‘horses for courses’, noting which social skill approaches appear to work best for which client groups given the current evidence available from research. Key issues will be identified, and a practical overview of useful resources will be provided. Topics covered will be summarised and ways forward will be suggested.

Appendix 1 (to follow Chapter 4)

Three photocopiable programmes of  group Social Skill Development are presented. Each session plan  provides a structure for activities and an outline of objectives. Setting homework, which we refer to as ‘assignments’, is important to promote generalisation. Two group programmes are presented, one with a standard approach and one with a more individualised approach. The more individualised approach may produce better generalisation as the focus is on setting homework which will be especially helpful for the group member concerned. Practitioners may adapt the group exercises for individual work if running a group programme is not practicable.

Key reference

  • Trower P (1984). Radical approaches to social skills training. London: Croom Helm.

Appendix 2 (to follow Chapter 4)

Some useful pointers for adopting a psychodynamic approach to social skills groupwork will be included here.

Key reference

  • Dwivedi KN (1993). Part 1: Theoretical and practical issues. In KN Dwivedi (Ed.) Group work with children and adolescents: A handbook. London: Kingsley.


Professional Psychologist