Social Skills Training

What is Social Skills Training (SST)?

Social Skills Training (SST) refers to a wide range of interventions and instructional methods used to help an individual understand and improve social skills. Sometimes referred to as social skills groups, SST is often associated with the fields of applied behavior analysis, special education, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relationship-based therapies. A variety of professionals implement SST, including teachers, behavior analysts, psychologists, therapists, and autism support professionals. Research also suggests that parents can train to implement SST programs effectively.

What skills can be taught with SST?

Social skills training addresses a wide range of social skills. While there are many different ways to define social skills, in general, SST focuses on the rules and behaviors that help individuals interact with one another.

Some examples of skills targeted in SST programs include:

  • Initiating conversations
  • Greetings
  • Appropriate eye contact
  • How to behave in specific social and community settings
  • Understanding emotions and facial expressions
  • Gestures and body language
  • Assertiveness
  • Empathy

SST programs vary significantly based on the age and skill level of participants. Social skills for toddlers might include fundamental play skills like turn-taking, waiting for others, and eye contact. Social skills for adolescents and young adults with ASD might consist of expressing opinions, workplace behavior, and maintaining friendships. One benefit of social skills programs is that they are fully customizable for each individual’s strengths and needs.