The FRIENDS programmes are Australian developed cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) based programs, endorsed by the World Health Organisation, as best practice for the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression, promoting resilience in families, schools and communities.
The suite of FRIENDS programs (Fun FRIENDS, FRIENDS for Life, My FRIENDS Youth and Adult Resilience – Strong Not Tough) show effectiveness at post 12 months and 3 years, by reducing reported anxiety and depression symptoms and increasing resilience, self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-esteem and social emotional skills.
The Programmes have also been shown to improve peer relationships and positive attitudes towards learning and the school environment generally.
The programs have a firm theoretical and evidence basis. The theoretical model for the prevention and early intervention of anxiety and depression addresses attachment (emotions), physiological (body), cognitive (mind), and learning (behaviour) processes, which interact in the development, experience and maintenance of anxiety.
FRIENDS is an acronym that helps children remember the strategies taught that can be used to effectively manage anxiety:
F = Feelings (empathy training and self-regulation)
R = Remember to relax (relaxation & mindfulness strategies)
I = I can try my best (changing unhelpful to helpful thinking)
E = Explore Coping Step Plans and strategies for finding helpful solutions (choosing thumbs up actions instead of thumbs down actions)
N = Now reward yourself for trying your best (choosing interpersonal rather than material rewards)
D = Don’t forget to practice (choose to use the FRIENDS skills and give back to the community)
S = Stay calm (values based role models and support networks)
Specific skills that are taught are based on the following principles:
Our full school staff has completed Friends Resilience training and is now a Licensed Partner; we rolled out delivery of the Programme in our school in September and are already seeing superb results!
Families can access some rather excellent, introductory Friends Resilience training materials, led by Miss McKinney and Mrs Gilbert, using the links below:
An intro to the Friends Resilience programme for families - Part 1
An intro to the Friends Resilience programme for families - Part 2