Standard Article

Social Skills Training

  1. Kim T. Mueser

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0899

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Mueser, K. T. 2010. Social Skills Training. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Dartmouth Medical School

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Social skills training is a widely used method in clinical, counseling, and educational psychology for teaching people more effective interpersonal skills. For example, goals such as having rewarding conversations, making friends, resolving conflict, resisting pressure from others, handling social situations at work or school, and getting one's needs met during a visit to the doctor can all be accomplished through the use of social skills training. In order to teach these skills, complex social behaviors are first broken down into smaller component skills. Four broad types of component skills include nonverbal skills (e.g., facial expression, body language), paralinguistic features (e.g., voice tone and loudness), verbal content (the actual words spoken), and interactive balance (e.g., amount of time each person talks, latency to respond to the other person's verbalization). Breaking complex skills into simpler ones makes it easier for people to gradually learn them through focusing on small, incremental changes, much like the old saying, “Rome wasn't built in a day.”


  • social learning theory;
  • shaping;
  • interpersonal behavior;
  • clinical psychology;
  • social functioning;
  • social competence