Social Circles: When we think of "friends," who do we mean? We start by identifying all the people in our life and what roles they play. Do we have sources of friends already in our life that we may be overlooking? Can we expand or enhance any of the relationships we already have? Do we have a social coach and what role would we like them to play to support us throughout this course. This week we will set intentions for our participation in this course.
Beginning to Build: We examine thinking traps that contribute to social anxiety. This week will be used to take an inventory of where we are with social skills and what specific skills we can practice to build success. This course is based on taking small steps, repeatedly, to build comfort and confidence. The student will progress to the next level of social contact only when ready. You can stay at the same level of contact and practice those skills until you are ready to move on. Each week we will begin the session by reviewing the practice from the previous week and celebrating our successes.
Initiating a Conversation: We will examine strategies for speaking to a stranger in a safe environment. If the student is ready, they will practice initiating verbal contact by using a predetermined conversation starter and following a short predefined path through a brief conversation. Again, practice is the key to success, so students will either practice this new skill from Week Three or repeat their practice from Week Two if they are not comfortable moving on.
Friend Sources: During Week Four, we will begin to identify sources for potential friends. We build a list of potential places we might meet people who share our interests. If the student is ready, Week Four practice can include attending one event at one of the places identified as a potential source of friends. Social Coaches are encouraged to attend with the student. Students are encouraged to continue practicing skills on initiating contact from prior weeks throughout the week as well.
What to Look for in a Friend: Week Five focuses on the characteristics that make a good friend and how to recognize them in others. We review our list of potential friend sources and select a second event to attend for this week's practice. Students are encouraged, if they are ready, to make verbal contact with one individual at this week's event, using the scripting developed in Week Three. Social Coaches are encouraged to attend the potential friend event with the student. Students are encouraged to continue practicing skills on initiating contact from prior weeks throughout the week as well.
How to be a Friend: The surest path to friendship is to BE a friend to someone who needs one. This week we will examine strategies for being a good friend, and students will practice acts of friendship on people already in their social circle. If possible, students are encouraged to attend at least one potential friend event or location and initiate a conversation with at least one individual. Social Coaches are encouraged to attend the potential friend event with the the student. Students are encouraged to continue practicing skills on initiating contact from prior weeks throughout the week as well.
Test the Waters: Now that you've ventured into social situations where you might find friends, it's time to start testing the waters with people you meet. We will focus on the kinds of questions to ask, and how to ask, in order to determine if your new acquaintance might make a good friend. Social Coaches are encouraged to attend the event to provide support.
Invite them In: Once the student has identified one person with high friend potential, it's time to extend an invitation. We'll discuss how to extend an invitation to meet up, plan the meet up, and discuss how to handle situations when a potential friend says no.
Assessing the Friendship: In new relationships, it can be important to assess how the friendship is going. How are you feeling about it? What are some common expectations in a new friendship? How can you recognize early signs of problems or a toxic relationship? In this week, with the help of your Social Coach, you will review where you stand with your new friendship and how you would like to proceed.
Keeping Friends: What are the best practices for maintaining a healthy friendship? How much contact is too much? What is not enough? In the final week of class, we will develop a plan for supporting our friendship to keep it growing and thriving. We will also discuss how to expand our friendships to include others and develop friend groups.