Learning to Change Lives

Learning to Change Lives: The Strategies and Skills Learning and Development Approach

A. KA TAT TSANG
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttqpq
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  • Book Info
    Learning to Change Lives
    Book Description:

    Aimed at clinical practitioners, mental health professionals, social workers, and other human service professionals, this book can be used as a manual by practitioners and as a textbook for courses and training programs.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6368-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures, Tables, Boxes, and Worksheets
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Part One: The SSLD Idea
    • Chapter One Introduction
      (pp. 5-19)

      Life is full of challenges. As we engage in our quest for well-being, happiness, or cherished goals in life, we often find that we are not adequately equipped to deal with the demands of a rapidly changing world. More often than not, the challenges we face involve other people, who are either related to us in a personal way or are performing a role that has an impact on our lives. In order to achieve what we desire, we have to interact with these people and hopefully we can get them to respond in ways that are favourable to whatever...

    • Chapter Two Social and Interpersonal Strategies and Skills as Human Action
      (pp. 20-43)

      Strategies and skills learning and development (SSLD) is a procedure focusing on action and performance. Professionals in education and training know too well that there is a huge gap between cognitive knowledge and action. In health education, for example, the knowledge that cigarette smoking is hazardous to one’s health is a necessary but grossly insufficient factor in stopping smoking. In the battle against HIV/AIDS, sexual health educators are distressed by how often knowledge about safe sex does not translate into action. This knowledge-action gap is widely noted in other areas of human service, although it is not always candidly acknowledged....

    • Chapter Three Basic Principles of Strategies and Skills Learning and Development
      (pp. 44-58)

      SSLD builds on earlier developments in social skills training and shares some of the same basic principles and procedures. This section introduces these principles and procedures, highlighting features that are characteristic of the SSLD approach. The first critical point is determining the objective of the intervention, and here lies the difference between a preplanned or prepackaged program and a contingency-based approach. In conventional social skills training or similar practice, it is not unusual to have a preplanned program with specific content targeting a given group of clients, such as an assertiveness training program designed for women, or a life-skills training...

  7. Part Two: Basic SSLD Procedure
    • Chapter Four Problem Translation
      (pp. 61-94)

      Problem translation is the first step in contingency-based SSLD. It is a feature of SSLD that allows the practitioner to respond to the unique circumstances, needs, characteristics, and capacities of specific clients or client groups, including families, special purpose groups, organizations, and communities. Presented problems are analysed in terms of the client’s needs and goals as well as the current skills and/or strategies used to attain them. The “problem” is eventually translated into learning objectives. The procedure therefore involves (1) engaging with the client through establishing a shared understanding of the client’s needs and circumstances; (2) behaviour-oriented functional analysis of...

    • Chapter Five Review of Current Strategies
      (pp. 95-108)

      In practice, the needs assessment and goal-setting tasks in problem translation may come as a significant cognitive reconstruction for some clients, but can be quite expected and unsurprising for others. The time needed to achieve this also varies. Many client-practitioner dyads can come to a shared understanding within the first session, whereas others may take two to three sessions, or sometimes more, to get to this point. In any case, when needs have been identified and goals have been articulated, it is time to look at the actions taken by the client to address them. In most cases, we will...

    • Chapter Six Formulating and Designing Relevant Strategies and Skills
      (pp. 109-125)

      After problem translation and current strategies review, we come to the formulation and design of strategies and skills. Unlike packaged programs that offer a standard training program for all participants, contingency-based SSLD custom-designs a learning program for each client. In group-work settings, the actual learning procedure is contingent upon the particular needs and circumstances of individual group members. Collective needs of groups, organizations, and communities are similarly addressed with regard to their specific circumstances.

      Following the hierarchical structure of goals, strategies, composite skills, and micro-processes described in the last chapter, the first step in the formulation and design of learning...

    • Chapter Seven The Learning Process
      (pp. 126-136)

      In an SSLD program, client learning can occur in different domains. Whereas the key focus is on action or behaviour, we recognize that clients often go through cognitive and emotional learning as well. Given the fact that almost all human behaviours are embodied acts, in that they are all mediated by the body, one can say that learning occurs in the biological domain as well. Motivational patterns can also change as a result of learning or behavioural change, and the process may involve cognitive input (e.g., recognizing that certain expectations are not realistic), physiological change (e.g., thirst being quenched, pain...

  8. Part Three: Building Blocks
    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 137-140)

      In this section, we will introduce basic building blocks for SSLD practice, covering (1) receptive skills such as attentive listening, recognizing emotional content, attitudes and positions, and sensitivity to underlying needs; (2) expressive skills involving articulation, presentation, and/or disclosure of factual data, opinions, needs, and goals, as well as emotional content; (3) interactive skills like engagement and intimacy building, which involve processes such as building common ground, maintaining an open and safe narrative space, communicating positive emotions, expanding mutual understanding, and creating a shared private space; and (4) instrumental skills that usually target a particular functional task or accomplishment, such...

    • Chapter Eight Reception
      (pp. 141-150)

      The most important first step in communication and social interaction is reception. The ability to “get” what the other party is trying to communicate is very basic, but counsellors or therapists are often surprised by how often clients do not listen, or do not get or understand even very clear and straightforward messages in their everyday lives. The ability to receive and accurately interpret interpersonal and social messages is a function of general intelligence, but emotional and interpersonal sensitivity, or what many people have come to call emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995), can be equally or even more important. Such emotional...

    • Chapter Nine Expression
      (pp. 151-173)

      Communication involves both reception and expression. Expression includes the presentation of self and the expression of ideas and feelings. It is considered effective when it achieves the desired goals within a given social context. The purpose of specific social or interpersonal engagement, therefore, should guide the mode of self-expression.

      Being purposeful and goal-directed in self-expression seems a very simple and logical position to take, but a careful analysis of actual social behaviour reveals how this domain of human life has been heavily conditioned by extremely powerful social, cultural, and economic forces. In some parts of the world, there are salient...

    • Chapter Ten Engagement
      (pp. 174-186)

      As Gergen (1991) observed over two decades ago, most people living in the developed world are living in a postmodern era, and we are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of individuals we meet in our lives. This increase in quantity is also associated with increased diversity in terms of geographical location, ethnicity, culture, profession, personal background, and so on; and must have been growing over the last twenty years. From a social psychological perspective, many people are overwhelmed with this increased quantity and complexity of contacts and interactions. People’s overall life satisfaction and well-being are to a large...

    • Chapter Eleven Managing Relationships
      (pp. 187-217)

      When we are successful with our initial engagement with people, we can proceed with our interaction with them. What follows can be the accomplishment of specific instrumental tasks, such as selling a product or completing an interview, or it can be the development of a longer-term relationship, which will be the substance of this chapter.

      All human beings need at least a few relationships in order to survive. The ability to make relationships work for us is one of the most important competencies we need to develop, although society does not always provide the best resources and support for it....

    • Chapter Twelve Instrumental Tasks
      (pp. 218-232)

      Most of our life goals are accomplished within interpersonal and social contexts. We often find ourselves in situations in which we have goals that are more instrumental, meaning that we only wish to get things done and do not necessarily want to develop a relationship with the person after the goal has been accomplished. The relationship is only developed for a practical purpose, so it is either incidental or secondary to the instrumental goal. In everyday life, people try to attain instrumental goals in a huge range of possible scenarios. One can be trying to talk oneself out of a...

  9. Part Four: SSLD Practice and Related Issues
    • [PART FOUR Introduction]
      (pp. 233-234)

      The building blocks introduced in the last section can be combined flexibly to form SSLD intervention programs in response to specific client needs and circumstances. Over the last three decades or so, I have applied SSLD – either in its current form or in its earlier form as social skills training – to a wide variety of settings, be it through direct practice myself or through my role as program designer, consultant, supervisor, trainer, or coach. A network of colleagues and graduate students in North America and Asia has worked closely with me in the development of numerous programs for a wide...

    • Chapter Thirteen Learning and Applying SSLD
      (pp. 235-283)

      This chapter addresses issues pertaining to the adoption of SSLD as a practice system. The first question for practitioners is the obvious one of why should one choose SSLD. When one has satisfied oneself that it is beneficial to include SSLD in one’s professional toolbox, then comes the question of how one should go about learning and mastering the new system. Then there are the related issues of scope of application, logistics, support, and resources.

      Practitioners have a rich array of choices with regard to possible practice systems that promise to be useful. When thinking of adopting a new system,...

    • Chapter Fourteen Issues Related to SSLD: A Personal Note
      (pp. 284-296)

      I have introduced SSLD practice to hundreds of colleagues, and in a wide variety of contexts, including universities, social service organizations, community organizations, health care establishments, companies, professional associations, volunteer groups, and direct practice settings. I have come across many questions, comments, feedback, suggestions, and critiques. Once an experienced psychologist in private practice commented that I tended to introduce SSLD in a manner that was probably too theoretical for practitioners. He suspected that it was due to my long-term employment in an academic position. I can actually think of many incidents that support his observation, mostly involving colleagues asking for...

  10. References
    (pp. 297-320)
  11. Index
    (pp. 321-329)