The Social Challenge Program (3rd edition) was produced in 1992 (first edition 1986) as a social skills building curriculum—group therapy/classroom intervention—with children ages 7-14 years old. It is currently out of print and no longer available, but it was widely distributed in schools, children’s psychiatric hospitals, and mental health private practices and agencies throughout the United States and several countries around the world.
The Social Challenge Program consisted of twenty-one therapeutic skill-building activities—outlined in step-by-step fashion—that provided training and development of dozens of social skills. Children learned—in structured group sessions—how to negotiate, cooperate, respond appropriately to peer conflict, maintain self-control, deal effectively with social pressures, and much more. Each activity required three 45-minute group sessions and during these sessions children experienced the support of their peers while tackling personal problems and shaping their own identity. Children benefitted from the program by broadening their repertoire of social skills, developing better problem-solving ability, and increasing their sensitivity to the feelings and intentions of others.
The Social Challenge Program was designed as a “stand alone” program, but the research on social competence indicated that social skills training programs often fell short of their goals because the participants could not generalize their new skills outside the skill building sessions. Children needed social skills to be taught in deliberate fashion—that was not in doubt—but new social skills also needed to be practiced—with adult guidance and direction—to enable children to internalize and generalize what they had learned. People who used The Social Challenge Program were encouraged to provide these opportunities with whatever means they had available. This led to the creation of the New Frontiers Game, a way to practice social skills in a “real life” setting while receiving necessary coaching from qualified adults. The two programs were most effective when they were used together, alternating sessions, a couple of sessions of skill development followed by a few sessions of practice and application.
The New Frontiers Game is described separately.