University of Edinburgh

Promoting social inclusion of pupils with visual impairment in
mainstream schools in Scotland

Appendix III Goldstein Method

This method began in America in 1975 by Goldstein who described it as ‘structured learning therapy’. Originally intended for ‘working class’ adults and those with a mild learning disability the emphasis was on acquiring good social practical social skills. There is a focus on conditions by which clients become more social skilled, acquire useful behaviour patterns, decrease their social fear, and acquire realistic expectations regarding their own competence. The emphasis is on doing not talking. Group dynamics and individual feelings/emotions are not encouraged during the sessions, and if they do arise they are not directly addressed. The reason given for this was to create clear boundaries for participants about there being no possibility of them having to ‘lay themselves bare’ (so to speak) or be embarrassed by others in the group unexpectedly doing so. There was also the comment that by being ‘less structured’ the tutor would have to be negative to keep on task (by stopping people talking about other issues). Strict adherence to the structure was said to mean that there was no chance of failure.

The method can be summarised as:

  • Directive
  • Short
  • Uses recognisable situations
  • Emphasis on concrete behaviour (discussion is about behaviour, not feelings)
  • Emphasis on doing (imitative and anticipatory role play).

Directions for the trainer are to:

  • Give a natural dynamic performance (scripted introductions, etc)
  • Reduce tension
  • Focus on participant, not on the group.

Groups are usually between 8-10 people who have already completed a questionnaire which asks each participant to rate their performance in particular social situations. For example, there may be seven questions around striking up a conversation with ‘tick box responses such as ‘I never do this’, ‘I rarely do this’, ‘I do this nearly always’ etc. From these responses the trainer allocates particular individuals to a session which corresponds to what they have identified as needing help with. This ‘self selection’ is a crucial part of the motivation to take part and learn from the training.

The most important components in each training session are:

  • Modelling
  • Behaviour training
  • Transfer training
  • Home assignments

The group sit in a ‘U’ shape with the trainer at the head. The trainer uses a ‘set piece’ introduction/explanation, and the training begins. A short video (2-3 minutes) is shown of a situation where a particular social skill is shown as lacking. The group are asked to comment on the video and identify what is wrong. A strategy is introduced by the trainer. The five steps are:

  • Consider if you want to do this (eg: start a conversation)
  • Choose a good moment
  • Say what you want to do (I’d like to talk about …)
  • Ask the other person if this is a good time
  • Listen to the response of the other person

Another video is shown of the same social situation, but things now go well and the group are asked to identify what has changed. Then a third video is shown with the actions freeze framed when one of the five points above takes place, to emphasise the method/strategy.

Members of the group are then chosen by the trainer to role play the first video as imitative role play, that is simply repeating the words and actions they have seen on the video.

They are then asked to imitative role-play the second video and positive feedback is then immediately given by the trainer to the person who had successfully enacted the strategy. The trainer may also ask the other group members to give positive feedback with the positive feedback directly related to the realisation of the skill. This process will be repeated until all members of the group have had experience of imitating the strategy as illustrated in the second video.

Members of the group are then asked to think of their own situations where they could use this skill and then take part in anticipatory role-play. The trainer takes each situation and, by talking to that particular member, carefully establishes the salient features and then asks another group member to imitate this situation. The participants are then asked to repeat the role-play, but this time using the five steps outlined above. At the end of each session members are asked to identify a situation where they could use this skill in the coming week and are asked to do so – this is the ‘home assignment.’

Subsequent sessions adopt the following structure:

  • Feedback on home assignment
  • Imitating role play
  • Anticipating role play
  • Discussion of home assignments