The FRIENDS Programs were created to assist children and youth at appropriate developmental levels to learn important skills and techniques to cope with and sometimes even overcome, anxiety.

Theoretical principles behind The FRIENDS Programs

The FRIENDS Programs are well-researched innovative programs with a firm theoretical basis. The theoretical model for the prevention and early intervention of anxiety and depression addresses Attachment, Physiological, Cognitive and Learning processes. These processes are seen to interact in the development, experience and maintenance of anxiety. The influence of each of these four processes varies between individuals and situations.

Many of the skills and techniques taught during interventions that are associated with these four areas have been used extensively in the prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders in children and youth.

Attachment

Attachment theory relates to the importance of stable, unconditional loving relationships throughout our lives as well as the importance of choosing and maintaining healthy friendships. This component also relates to the significance of understanding feelings in ourselves and others. When an individual is able to recognise feelings, they are then able to regulate them.

Physiological

These are the physical reactions our bodies experience when we are feeling worried, nervous or afraid. The FRIENDS Programs teaches participants to recognise and find language to what happens to their bodies when they feel worried or nervous. This is important as children and youth may have difficulty making the connection between physical symptoms of anxiety and anxiety-provoking events.

Cognitive

The thoughts that we have about ourselves, others and situations are often powerful. Paying attention to what is going on around us is an extremely powerful tool with regards to mood and maintenance of gains obtained from evidence-based programs like The FRIENDS Programs. Children and youth 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.

Learning

This involves the acquisition of new skills to cope with and manage anxiety. 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.

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