Center for BrainHealth Helps Mental Health Patients Develop Social Skills Using Virtual Coaching

Center for BrainHealth Helps Mental Health Patients Develop Social Skills Using Virtual Coaching

By Bill Siwicki, HIMMS

Cognitive neuroscience researchers and clinicians had been encountering significant challenges in effectively addressing social skills development among individuals dealing with mental health conditions or neurodevelopmental disorders.



Traditional approaches often lacked engagement and real-world applicability, making it difficult for individuals to generalize skills learned in therapy sessions to everyday social interactions. As a result, many patients struggled with feelings of isolation, anxiety and difficulty navigating social situations, hindering their overall wellbeing and quality of life.

“In educational settings, educators also faced hurdles in providing comprehensive support for students experiencing social difficulties,” said Maria Johnson, director of youth and family innovations and Charisma virtual social coaching lead at the Center for BrainHealth, a cognitive research center at The University of Texas at Dallas. “These challenges often translated into academic and social barriers to success, impacting students’ learning experiences and outcomes.

“Similarly, in clinical care settings, clinicians encountered limitations to traditional therapy approaches, particularly in creating realistic social scenarios for clients to practice and generalize their skills,” she continued. “This lack of engagement and personalized learning experiences hindered the overall progress and well-being of individuals seeking support for social skills development.”

Overall, the prevailing problem was the inadequacy of existing methods to effectively address the diverse social skill needs of individuals across different settings, leading to persistent challenges in social interaction and emotional wellbeing.

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