Correctional Service Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Substance Abuse Treatment Modalities: Literature Review

Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Life Skills Training

Life skills training refers to activities intended to prepare individuals to live independently in modern society. In the present context it differs from other skills training (e.g., social skills) in that life skills training involves learning functions that are essential for surviving on one's own, whereas other skills training can be viewed as helping people who already have independent living skills to learn to function more effectively (e.g., to be assertive). Obviously, explicit life skills training is necessary only for a minority of individuals, as most persons acquire independent living skills as part of their normal passage to adulthood. In a corrections context, there are two main groups who may benefit from life skills training. One is persons who have spent much of their lives incarcerated and never lived in non-supervised context. The other group is persons who have a major disability that limits their capacity for independent functioning, such as subnormal intelligence, organic brain disorder (e.g., result of substance abuse), or chronic schizophrenia.

The components of life skills training range from the most elementary functions, such as finding shelter and meals, cleanliness and hygiene, using public transportation, shopping, and money management, to more complicated functions such as finding and maintaining employment, recreation, and basic socialization skills. Usually the training is quite straightforward, often involving role playing and supervised real life experiences. The effectiveness of life skills training has not been evaluated as an isolated modality, and it clearly would be a violation of ethical standards to deny such training to needy individuals. It is best viewed as a modality that is a virtual necessity for some individuals. It is quite conceivable that there might be variations in relative effectiveness among different methods of life skills training, but comparative studies of this sort have not been conducted in the substance abuse field. In fact, the need for this modality is so infrequent in that field, that it has not been a topic of research. Nevertheless, existing programs could be evaluated with regard to how they assess needs, the breadth of training available, and how the quality of training is assured.


References for Life Skills Training:

Saskatchewan Department of Manpower and Immigration, The Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Department of Manpower and Immigration, Training and Research Development Station, 1973.

Young Womens' Christian Association (YWCA) of Metropolitan Toronto, Discovering Life Skills with Special Groups, Toronto: YWCA of Metropolitan Toronto, 1986.

Young Womens' Christian Association (YWCA) of Metropolitan Toronto, Discovering Life Skills with Women Vol. II.Toronto: YWCA of Metropolitan Toronto, 1980.