Psychology

Theoretical principles behind The FRIENDS Programs

The skills and techniques taught in Fun FRIENDS, FRIENDS for Life and My FRIENDS Youth addresses four key psychological processes: Attachment, Physiological, Cognitive and Learning. These processes are seen to interact in the development, experience and maintenance of anxiety with the influence of each area varying between individuals and across situations.

Attachment

The FRIENDS Programs addresses importance of stable, unconditional loving relationships throughout our lives and the benefits of choosing and maintaining healthy friendships. Children enhance their ability to recognise and understand feelings themselves and in all living creatures before learning to regulate their own feelings.

Physiological

Increasing awareness of the physical reactions our bodies experience when we are feeling worried, nervous or afraid helps children and adolescents make the connection between physical symptoms of anxiety and anxiety-provoking events. The FRIENDS Programs teaches children and adolescents relaxation techniques. This is an important skill as those who experience anxiety are generally tense and unskilled at practicing relaxation. The ability to relax at crucial moments before or during events becomes an essential coping skill.

Cognitive

The thoughts that we have about ourselves, others and situations are often powerful. If children and adolescents learn to use sensory awareness in their environment, this can set them up for a calmer, more sensitive and enjoyable life. Children and adolescents who experience anxiety tend to engage in unhelpful self-talk which is characterised by negative evaluations about oneself and future events, perfectionist standards of performance, concerns about failure and what others may be thinking. The FRIENDS Programs teaches children and adolescents coping strategies based on the psychological principal that our thoughts, behaviour and feelings are all interlinked.

Learning

Throughout The FRIENDS Programs, emphasis is placed on the concept of resilience, which is perhaps best defined as a dynamic dual process. This describes the ability of an individual to handle various challenges and also be open to positive opportunities. As the definition implies, The FRIENDS Programs aim to equip children and their families with the skills necessary to achieve positive outcomes.

As Licensed Partner of The FRIENDS Programs, Resilience Kit runs developmentally targeted evidence-based resilience programs for the prevention and reduction of anxiety in Western Australia. Resilience Kit strongly encourages parent/caregiver participation to understand the key psychological processes behind the Programs. Practicing the skills as a family involves not only the child who attends a Program, but also siblings, parents and any other family members living in the household.

Ages 4 – 7 years

Ages 8 – 11 years

Ages 12 – 15 years