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Improving recreational, residential, and vocational outcomes for patients with schizophrenia
Roder, Volker; Zorn, Peter; Müller, Daniel [u. a.]
Psychiatric Services, 2001, Volume 52 (Number 11), Seite 1439-1441, Washington D. C.: Eigenverlag, ISSN: 1075-2730 (Print); 1557-9700 (Online)
As Roder and colleagues propose, we have seen three eras in the development and refinement of social skills training for individuals with schizophrenia. In the 1960s, skills training relied on the use of operant conditioning, as exemplified by the token economy. Reinforcement contingencies succeeded in activating patients with negative symptoms and in improving their social behavior.
Contemporary psychiatric rehabilitation can profit from the identification and use of reinforcers to motivate anergic individuals who lack insight to participate actively in community-based programs. During the second era, in the 1970s, social learning through modeling, coaching, role playing, and behavioral assignments was introduced into skills training. These techniques were used to improve nonverbal skills, such as eye contact, fluency of speech, gestures, and facial expression, as well as conversational skills, assertiveness, and emotional expressiveness.
Intervention programs of the third and current era are incorporating cognitive methods into the skills training enterprise. For example, in the modules for training social and independent living skills developed and validated by Liberman and his colleagues at the University of California at Los Angeles (1), the deficits in attention, memory, and verbal learning often experienced by persons with schizophrenia are overcome by repetition, shaping of incremental behavioral improvements, video modeling, and feedback for galvanizing attention. Procedural learning techniques that do not rely on the brain capacities that mediate verbal awareness and insight are also used.In this month's Rehab Rounds column, Roder and his colleagues present another example of a skills training approach of the third era that includes elements of cognitive remediation.
As autonomous offsprings of integrated psychological therapy (IPT), which was originally developed by Hans Brenner and Volker Roder and their colleagues at the University of Bern in Switzerland (2), the new programs address deficits in the residential, vocational, and recreational domains of community functioning.
Overall, social skills training has been shown to be effective in the acquisition and maintenance of skills and their transfer to community life. Moreover, evidence is accumulating that structured and systematic skills training is more effective than other psychosocial treatments with which it has been compared, such as supportive group therapy and expressive modes of occupational therapy.
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