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Skillstreaming is a social skills training method introduced by Dr. Arnold P. Goldstein in 1973. It has been widely used in the United States, as well as other countries, in schools, agencies, and institutions serving children and youth. The Skillstreaming programs for early childhood, elementary age, and adolescence are published by the Research Press Publishing Company of Champaign, Illinois.

Behavior theorists, including Albert Bandura described the processes of modeling, behavioral rehearsal, and reinforcement which are the basis of the Skillstreaming approach. However, rather than emphasizing operant procedures such as prompting and shaping of behaviors, Skillstreaming takes a more psychoeducational approach, viewing the individual as a person in need of help in the form of skills training.[1] The method provides active and deliberate learning of desirable behaviors to replace less productive behaviors.[2]


In 1950s and 1960s, the main therapeutic approaches for dealing with inappropriate behavior in individuals were (psychodynamic, nondirective, and behavior modification). These three types of therapy focused on helping individuals to express their pre-existing effective, satisfying, or healthy behaviors.

After the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1960s resulted in the discharge of large numbers of people from mental health and other institutions into local communities, Arnold P. Goldstein developed Structured Learning Therapy,[3] the precursor to Skillstreaming, as a practical method of behavioral training. Structured learning methods deal with aggression, withdrawal, and other nonproductive actions as learned behaviors that can be changed by teaching new, alternative skills.

During this time, progressive education and character education,[4] supported the teaching of values, morality, emotional functioning and values clarification,[5] moral education,[6] and affective education[7]

As well as filling its initial purpose as an intervention for low-income adults deficient in social skills, Skillstreaming has been used with other populations. In the 1980s, Dr. Goldstein’s skills training program, by that time known as Skillstreaming, was adapted to modify aggression and other problematic behaviors in adolescents, [8][9] elementary children[10][11] and preschool and kindergarten children.[12] The Skillstreaming approach has been employed with elderly adults, child-abusing parents, industrial managers, police officers, and others.[13]

Evaluative research studies support the efficacy of Skillstreaming and have suggested means for altering and improving its procedures and materials.[14]


Between 1984 and 2012, Goldstein and Ellen McGinnis published a series of books describing the Skillstreaming program, organized into three age groups: early childhood, elementary and adolescent. These volumes integrate the research findings on program efficacy with training recommendations provided by teachers, administrators, youth care workers, and other practitioners who have used Skillstreaming to teach social skills over the years.[1][15][16]


  1. ^ a b Charles A Maher; Joseph Zins; Maurice Elias (25 February 2014). Bullying, Victimization, and Peer Harassment: A Handbook of Prevention and Intervention. Routledge. pp. 226–. ISBN 978-1-317-78722-8. 
  2. ^ Gretchen A. Gimpel; Gretchen Gimpel Peacock; Melissa L. Holland (2003). Emotional and Behavioral Problems of Young Children: Effective Interventions in the Preschool and Kindergarten Years. Guilford Press. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-1-57230-861-9. 
  3. ^ Goldstein, A. P. (1973). Structured Learning Therapy: Toward a psychotherapy for the poor. New York: Academic.
  4. ^ Chapman, W. E. (1977). Roots of character education. Schenectady, NY: Character Research Press.
  5. ^ Simon, S. G., Howe, L. W., & Kirschenbaum, H. (1972). Values clarification. New York: Hart.
  6. ^ Kohlberg, L. (Ed.). (1973). Collected papers on moral development and moral education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Center for Moral Education.
  7. ^ Miller, J. P. (1976). Humanizing the classroom. New York: Praeger.
  8. ^ Amy Evans (2009). Behavioral and Academic Effects of Skillstreaming the Adolescent. Education)--Bucknell University. 
  9. ^ "Book Review: Refusal Skills: Preventing Drug Use in Adolescents". DeepDyve.
  10. ^ Holly L. Kohlmann (2009). The Efficacy of Skillstreaming on Elementary-aged Children with Specific Learning Disabilities. University of Wisconsin -- La Crosse. 
  11. ^ Elizabeth J. Cardenas (1998). The Effects of the Skillstreaming Curriculum on the Social Skills of Children with Specific Learning Disabilities. University of South Florida. 
  12. ^ Sara A. Niehues (2006). The Effectiveness of Skillstreaming when Used as a Short-term Intervention for Preschool Children. Emporia State University. ISBN 978-1-109-80553-6. 
  13. ^ Siew Gei Shirley Low (1999). Skillstreaming in Predelinquents with and Without Peer Involvement. Murdoch University. 
  14. ^ Ganz, Jennifer B., "Skillstreaming the Adolescent: New Strategies and Perspectives for Teaching Prosocial Skills.(Review)" Intervention in School & Clinic, v.36, no.4, 2001 March, p.246 (ISSN 1053-4512) Sage Publications, Inc.
  15. ^ "School Based Support Groups". ISPA Newsletter, page 10, Volume 35 Number 1,August 2013.
  16. ^ Butch Losey (28 March 2012). Bullying, Suicide, and Homicide: Understanding, Assessing, and Preventing Threats to Self and Others for Victims of Bullying. Routledge. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-1-135-19469-7. 

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