The ability of social perception is one of the most important factors within the concept of social competence. Goldstein (Goldstein, 2004) argued that the ability to recognize, understand and interpret interpersonal cues is a key skill of social performance and thus should be emphasized in a separate program. In fact, Goldstein recommended social perception training in addition to anger control training, social skills training and moral reasoning training when working with individuals with behavior problems.

The SPT program includes an introductory session and sessions devoted to the 9 specific topics. Each topic can be covered in one session but could also be treated in more detail over two sessions. The program is therefore flexible in relation to time, depending on the age group and the topics the facilitator wishes to emphasize. However, the program typically last from 11 to 16 sessions.

Introduction to Situational Perception Training

Identifying Emotions

Open and Hidden Rules in Different Situations

Cultural Differences

Setting Events

Thoughts, feelings, body signals and actions

Interpreting others’ intentions

Cognitive Distortions

Timing (right time and place)


The program has a formalized structure, emphasizing the precise interpretation of different categories of situational cues and how clarifying of these influences how a situation may unfold. In addition to theory and rehearsals of the topic of each session, one role-play in each session is specific analyzed from the perspective of the specific session and also from the previous sessions. This reflection leads to a continuing role-play that should unfold in a way that all parties appreciate.

SPT can be adapted for both children and adolescents, in combination with other Prepare courses or as a program of its own. The ideal age for starting the SPT program seems to be between 10 and 14 years of age.

For more information contact: Knut K. Gundersen at