Dear Beth

Learning social skills

Happiness is: gorgeous wild flowers adorn Ontario meadow

Dear Beth: I missed out on a lot in my childhood, including an opportunity to have friends my own age. I have done some deep psychotherapy and I am feeling better and much more interested in what is going on around me; but I do not know how to deal with social situations. For example, when I am at Church or at work, I do not know how to join conversations, and when it is O.K. to. What should I do?

Beth answers: Stand back and watch the others. How do they enter a conversation? Which ways work well, and which ways seem to get a bad reaction? Which people seem to be good role models, and what do they do? Do the "rules" seem to be different in different places and situations? When you have enough of this information to feel ready, start to experiment with what you have learned, moving slowly. This will probably get you on the right track. However, if you should find that you are unable to do it this way, or if you would like to work intensively on social skills, I would recommend an interactive psychotherapy group which is not overly confrontational and in which you feel safe. A good group can be hard to find, so the next best would be individual counselling or coaching to give practical help.