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Development and initial evaluation of a heterosocial skills training group for sexually assaultive and other adolescent psychiatric inpatients

Rosemary Janice Esseks, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The current study explored the development and initial evaluation of the Relationship Skills Group, a curriculum intended to increase the heterosocial skills and confidence of adolescents. The curriculum was designed to improve heterosocial functioning through a combination of instruction, discussion, modeling, and practice in a structured group setting. Skills addressed varied from basic interpersonal communications (e.g., making good eye contact, demonstrating active listening) to more complex, dating-specific issues (e.g., setting limits on sexual activity, discussing use of safer sexual practices). The treatment was provided to a population of adolescent psychiatric inpatients, most of whom were diagnosed with behavioral disorders, and many of whom were adjudicated for sexual offenses. Assessment instruments completed by these youth included the Survey of Heterosocial Interactions (SHI), the Assertion Inventory (AI), the AIDS-Risk Knowledge Test (ARKT), and the Structured Learning Skill Checklists Checklist (SLSC). Pre- and posttreatment data, consisting of these measures and videotaped role-play assessments, were collected on 32 youth who received the complete intervention. Pre-intervention analysis of data from 168 facility youth, including the treatment group, revealed that youth reporting lower heterosocial confidence were more likely than their more socially confident peers to be assigned to participate in the group. The examination of differences between pre- and post-intervention assessments, as measured through the SHI and subjects' performance in the videotaped role-plays, indicated that the group was successful in increasing participants' heterosocial confidence. No statistical evidence was found to indicate that the group increased the participants' levels of heterosocial skill. The study was limited by its small sample size and apparent subject confusion with one of the measures. It is suggested that the observed capacity of the Relationship Skills Group to increase heterosocial confidence demonstrates its utility as a technique for assisting adolescents to pursue positive, consensual romantic relationships, and decrease the likelihood that they will fall back on abusive or otherwise unhealthy patterns of fulfilling sexual needs. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Esseks, Rosemary Janice, "Development and initial evaluation of a heterosocial skills training group for sexually assaultive and other adolescent psychiatric inpatients" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3104611.