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lunchroom social skillsDeveloping “friends” and true “friendships” are processes that take years as well as various experiences. It relies on one having the ability to connect with others on a personal level.  Many of the clients I work with “want” friends and “want” to have that social connection, but fall short when in the moment and in understanding the effort it takes to maintain the relationship.   They are given universal tools to start an interaction or conversation, and that is a great first step.  But how do we tailor interventions to truly work for each and every individual client and provide them tools to help keep the connection going?

Let’s take “Sara” for example.  Sara really wants people to talk with her and she really wants to have a “friend” that will be nice to her.  So she asks to join a group of girls at lunch (she did a great job in trying to initiate with others and used a “script” which her counselor at school taught her).  They say yes, and she follows them outside to the court yard.

Sara places herself at the end of row and starts taking out her homework.  Sara hears others talking, but continues to look busy and engaged with her assignments, just hoping that someone will talk with her.  Sara then starts feeling really bad that nobody is paying “attention” to her and she feels excluded.  She came into the office and described this situation to me and really was not aware of where she went wrong.  Past interventions have talked about giving kids “scripts” or “conversation starters” to make connections with peers.  For many this is a great strategy, and in this example, Sara tired some of those exact strategies.  Yet, individuals like Sara continue to struggle finding that one person they can truly connect with.

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