“I enjoyed the course and I learned lots of things about social experiences. I would recommend this course.” Brett*, 14

My FRIENDS Youth is an evidence-based program for the prevention and reduction of anxiety in adolescents. Over the January school holidays, My FRIENDS Youth ran as an intensive one week program from Monday to Friday, 4.00pm – 6.00pm.

A safe environment to build social and emfile_000-3otional intelligence  

After a quick introduction and warm up activity, group guidelines were established in Session One with everyone agreeing that there would be ‘no put downs’, ‘no judgement’ and it was OK to ‘just have a go’ with ‘no right or wrong answers’. Also, to create a safe environment to enable everyone to speak freely and talk about personal information, everyone signed a group confidentiality agreement.

“I had such a great time! I made new friends! It was very educational & I learnt a lot about myself.” Tayla*, 15.

My FRIENDS Youth builds confidence in adolescents through strength-based discussions. For example, the group were encouraged to reflect upon the different aspects of their life and the strengths or contribution they had in this area. Next, it was on to goal setting – things to try in your personal life, at school, with friends and in your spare time.

All feelings are OK

It’s what we choose to do with them that counts. My FRIENDS Youth provides adolescents with the opportunity to learn to be ‘the boss’ of their feelings, which in turn helps them become more in control and less impulsive. It’s about learning to ‘catch our emotions’ early to manage them better.

What to do when experiencing real life challenges

“I enjoyed this experience because I learnt new things that I will use later in life.” Cade*, 14

Each session involved a mix of small group and individual activities, and although all adolescents were encouraged to write down some responses, many preferred to talk things through. No one was put on the spot and felt comfortable asking questions.

“The workbook activities are very helpful – activities that have real-life scenarios for everyone to practice are especially helpful e.g. a friend doesn’t invite you to their birthday party.” Mel*, 14

“I think this experience with this industry was great and I learnt a few things I didn’t know (that) I should know.” Luke*, 13

Expressing gratitude and kindness

“I really liked ending each session with everyone sharing one thing in their lives that they are grateful for and one nice thing they have done for another person – this was a very positive way to end each session and helped with group bonding.”

Isn’t it great to talk about stuff to feel good about? The pressures of school, friends and family
can often be overwhelming. Paying attention to positive things, and thinking about what one can do to help another person or any living creature builds resilience and confidence.

“This course was very helpful for being more positive towards not so positive things.” Matt*, 14

file_000-1Click here to enrol your adolescent in My FRIENDS Youth and to view the session outline.

The FRIENDS Programs are highly effective, strength-based anxiety prevention and treatment programs recognised by the World Health Organisation. Backed by Australian and international research, The FRIENDS Programs bolster social and emotional skills and enhance the abilities of children and adolescents to develop a positive attitude towards learning in school and interacting with peers, teachers and family.

* Names have been changed to maintain privacy and confidentiality.