The paper describes the psychopathological features of different forms of social withdrawal, from social phobia to avoidant personality disorder (APD), highlighting the qualitative and functional differences between disorders and, therefore, the necessity of diversified interventions according to the specific form of social withdrawal. In particular, the paper aims to make a survey of the different protocols of social skills training (SST) currently available for social withdrawal, pointing out the limits of such interventions for patients with APD. Subsequently, a new SST protocol specially designed for patients with severe withdrawal is presented. The protocol is based on the APD psychopathological model proposed by the Third Center (Procacci et al., 2011), and it is focused on the specific cognitive and metacognitive dysfunctions at the base of severe social withdrawal.
Keywords: Interpersonal skills, metacognition, emotional recognition, social withdrawal, avoidant personality disorder.