Building Skills

When I’m asked what my job at Lifeways is, I always stop, pause, and reply “I’m a skills trainer.”  Invariably, they will next ask, “What’s that?”  Again, I stop, take a big breath, and reply “Well…it’s a lot of things.”  As I explain, they tend to doze off, or they look at their watch and say “Hey, I really gotta go.”  So, I guess I’ll give you the short version.


To help clients, the Lifeways team works together to identify “strengths” and “needs.”  Everyone has “strengths” and “needs.” Strengths are the bricks upon which a client can build a fulfilled life, and I believe “needs” are newly molded (and kinda soggy) bricks that haven’t been delivered to the construction site yet.


Our adult and child clients often have “needs” in many areas.  One frequent need is social skills, such as the ability to make and keep friends, maintain a conversation, or interrupt politely. A client may also need help with emotional regulation, so I may help them to learn to identify and communicate their emotional state to others.  A positive self-image is another need for many clients, a skills trainer can help a client set and achieve personal goals, as well as identify their strengths.  Clients may need to make good choices. I help with this by teaching decision-making processes, like weighing “pros” and “cons.”


Clients and I work together to deliver these needs, which can be turned into strengths, to the construction site through education and discussion.  We may read about decision making techniques, write about dreams, or get to know the wide range of emotions that are common to the human experience.  After that, we may role-play what it’s like to be with other people in different situations, identify steps necessary to work toward achievement of a goal, or decide together what qualities they would like in a friend.


As we work and gain understanding, the mushy “need” brick slowly hardens into a solid “strength.”  From there, we celebrate together in our working relationship.  We also cement the new strength into our lives by constantly practicing what we’ve learned while we move on to the next need.  The process of changing needs into strengths is a difficult, but extremely rewarding process—and I’ll admit, it’s not just the client that reaps the benefit.


So, next time someone asks me, “What’s a skills trainer?”  I guess I’ll say “It’s a lot of different things, and I sure love it.”  After all, when one teaches, two learn.

Megan Price is a Skills Trainer
and can be reached at 889-9167