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Friends for Youth Group Intervention for Anxiety

Paula Barrett, Hayley Lowry-Webster and Cynthia Turner


Materials Needed • Required Supplies – Group Leader Manual – Student Manual (ideally, for each student in group) • Optional supplies – Chalkboard /Dry erase board – Crayons, Markers, Color pencils


Rationale of the FRIENDS Program • FRIENDS will help children to learn important skills and techniques to cope with and manage anxiety. • The word FRIEND will help them to remember each new skill taught throughout the program. • Children will discover different ways to be a friend to themselves and to others.


“FRIENDS” • • • • • • •

F– R– I– E– N– D– S–

How am I Feeling? Relax and Feel Good Inner Thoughts Explore Plans Nice Work, Reward Yourself! Don’t forget to Practice! Stay Calm


Theoretical Principles Behind The FRIENDS Program • FRIENDS is based on a theoretical model that addresses three processes: – Cognitive (mind) relates to inner thoughts we have about ourselves, others and situations. – Physiological (body) relates to physical reactions our bodies feel when we feel worried, nervous or afraid. – Learning (behavior) relates to the acquisition of new skills to cope and manage anxiety.


Developing Cognitive, Physiological, & Learning Skills • Cognitive exercises encourage the use of positive self-talk and self-reward. Children learn coping strategies and to change unhelpful negative thoughts.


Developing Cognitive, Physiological, & Learning Skills • Physiological exercises involve identifying an awareness of body clues (butterflies in the stomach or sweaty palms) and practicing relaxation and deep breathing.


Developing Cognitive, Physiological, & Learning Skills • Learning involves a six step problem-solving process, exposure to fear-provoking experiences, in which children learn to break down a feared situation into manageable steps, and the establishment of reward systems.


Design of FRIENDS Program • Participants – Designed for children aged 12-16. • Size – Small groups (up to 12) are recommended when a single group leader is available. – When used in the classroom setting it is important to have a high ratio of group leaders to participants.


Design of FRIENDS Program • Environment – There should always be enough chairs for all participants. – Arranging chairs in a circle can help facilitate a sense of membership and participation. – Groups should be held in an interruption-free and confidential setting


Design of FRIENDS Program • Program Structure – There are 10 sessions in the Program, however it may take more than one meeting to complete a session. – Sessions should be scheduled at least once a week – There are four parent sessions that can be incorporated into the Program – Booster sessions are encouraged to review central components and gains. Booster sessions are recommended one month and three months after the program is complete.


Paula Barrett Friends for Youth a Group Intervention for Anxiety Presentation NASBHC