Psychological Self-Help

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Social skills training improves your talents at meeting people,
conversing, telling stories, selecting a friend or partner, and having a
good time. Social skills don't come naturally to everybody; many of us
have to learn and practice good communication skills, often involving
close observation of others, role-playing, and other methods. Research
has shown that having good social support is beneficial if you are
depressed and it helps prevent depression in the future (Bennett &
Bates, 1995). So, how do you get more social support? By acquiring
more social skills. 
Depressed people may not talk much or talk too much about their
problems. Neither makes friends. After about 5 minutes, the self-put
downs, pessimism, dependency, and whiny helplessness of talkative
depressed people becomes unpleasant to most people. Yet, most
depressed people long for meaningful contact; therefore, they must
learn to interact differently. So, give the potential friend "equal time"
and be an empathic listener during his/her time. Let the friend know
you are down but suggest doing some fun things together too. Do
things for others. A friend is different from a therapist--he/she has to
benefit from the interaction too. Practice making light conversation;
use your sense of humor. 
Assertiveness training
Assertiveness training has had mixed success with depressives
(Biglan & Dow, 1981). The interpersonal skills should add to self-
confidence and encourage standing up for one's rights, instead of
being submissive. Assertiveness is not fighting; it includes disclosing
and expressing emotions, like personal needs and positive feelings,
and should deepen relationships. Don't prematurely over-disclose;
don't become self-centered or pushy. 
Empathy response training
Empathy response training is quite effective in deepening and
improving relationships. Use empathy statements for helping someone
else. Make "I feel..." statements to help yourself express your
problems and concerns to another person who is, hopefully, a good
Training in marital communication skills, fair fighting, conflict
resolution, and self-disclosure could greatly improve relationships.
Intimacy and closeness, i.e. continued sharing of personal history,
opinions, feelings, and dreams, could do wonders for one's attitude
about life. 
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