Irene Henriette Oestrich

Keywords: social skills, self-esteem, schizophrenia, group therapy

Feeling good about oneself, often called self-esteem, is not a static structure, but rather a continuous process. Personal development has its basis in change and requires both basic and complex cognitive and emotional processes. The vulnerability related to effective social functioning often causes pain and prevents the development of a constructive social repertoire and consequently impacts the ongoing process of developing self-esteem.

Humans are not born with an intact social repertoire. The more we learn to effectively cope, with a broad range of social situations, the less incompetent and anxious we feel in those and related social situations. The development of coping strategies is influenced by both behavioral and thinking processes. Avoidance and safety-seeking behaviors are a hindrance to the development of social skills, problem solving, and competence inasmuch as the lack of social engagement leads to a deficit in social skills.

Social competence is also connected to cognitions. In relationships with others, the personal meaning attached to those relationships and to the process of relating is especially important. Relationships are often influenced by strong emotional factors. The nuances in relationships are almost limitless and the meaning we connect to what happens in these relationships is important for the concept of self, how we interact in life, and to our self-esteem. The "healthy" mind develops an open, reflective, and experimental approach to life, which leads to and supports sound curiosity and an intact social repertoire.

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