Williams LifeSkills Program

Program Description
The Williams LifeSkills Workshop trains participants to use a set of basic coping skills that will enable them to: become more aware of thoughts and feelings; evaluate negative thoughts and feelings; decide between taking action and practicing deflection; deflect unwanted feelings; practice assertion; solve problems; speak effectively; listen well; empathize; and increase the ratio of positive to negative thoughts and interactions. The Workshop is usually held for 6 two-hour sessions over three weeks, with 7 to 10 participants per Workshop. (There also are: shorter training programs for groups of various sizes in lengths from one hour to one day, consulting, executive coaching, and team facilitation around a specific problem.) After needs assessments, each program is customized to the needs of that workplace, such as help in the areas of better teamwork, improved leadership, conflict resolution or increased job satisfaction. Developed materials are used, with customized additions as needed. Resources used in the training include: Lifeskills (Williams & Williams, 1997), an additional workbook, and a pocket card. There also is a short video as well as a number of cartoons and other teaching aids.

Participants are taught to keep logs according to a structured format and these entries provide the material for in-session practice of the skills being taught. The facilitator acts as coach as the participant practices the skill.

As measured by pre- and post-Workshop anonymous questionnaires, the Williams LifeSkills 12-hour Workshops result in statistically significant decreases in depression, hostility, and anxiety, with statistically significant increases on social support, self-esteem and communication at work. Participants also learn to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues, family and friends, communicate more clearly, and overcome anger and other negative emotions.

In workshops at a government agency and a university, participants’ scores on hostility and depression decreased significantly, while social support increased. In a randomized clinical trial among heart attack patients conducted by Gidron, Davidson, et al, the LifeSkills Workshop was adapted to focus on hostility reduction. Compared to patients receiving usual care, those randomized to the hostility reduction workshop showed lower hostility scores and lower blood pressure at the end of training—benefits that were maintained at examination 2 months later. Patients receiving the training also had fewer days in the hospital (0.6) compared to the control group (2.5) over the six months following training.


Gidron, Y., Davidson, K., & Bata I. "The short-term effects of a hostility reduction intervention in CHD patients." Health Psychology (1999) 18:416-420.

Davidson K et al., "Hostility Control Training in Post-MI Patients: Hospitalization Over Next 6 Months". National Conference on Health Statistics, Washington, DC, 2-4 August 1999.

Williams Virginia & Williams Redford (1997). Lifeskills. (NY: Times Books/Random House.

Williams, R.B. A 69-year-old man with anger and angina. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, 282: 763-770, 1999.

Williams, R.B. Hostility (and other psychosocial risk factors): Effects on health and the potential for successful behavioral approaches to prevention and treatment. IN: Baum, A., Revenson, T.R., Singer, J.E. (Eds.), HANDBOOK OF PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001; Chapter 39, Pp. 661-668.

Williams, R.B. & Williams, V.P. Lifeskills training to ameliorate the impact of psychosocial factors on the development and course of medical illness. IN Cummings, N.A., Cummings, J.L., & Johnson, J. (Eds.), BEHAVIORAL HEALTH IN PRIMARY CARE: A GUIDE FOR CLINICAL INTERGRATION Madison, CT: Psychosocial Press, 1997; Chapter 11, Pp. 205-218.

Williams, R.B. & Williams, V.P. (submitted). Managing hostile thoughts, feelings, and actions: The Lifeskills approach. IN: Snyder, C.R. (Ed.), COPING WITH STRESS: EFFECTIVE PEOPLE AND PROCESSES. NYC: Oxford University Press, 2001; Chapter 7, Pp. 137-153.




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