The FRIENDS programme was originally developed as a treatment of internalising disorders (anxiety and depression). It was derived originally from Kendall’s Coping Cat treatment programme for anxiety (Kendall, 1994). This programme was adapted for Australia by Barrett, Dadds and Rapee (1991) as the Coping Koala. It has since been further developed by Barrett into the FRIENDS programme. FRIENDS is delivered by teachers and staff in schools as a preventative resilience programme with proven results in increasing well-being over the long-term. The life skills learnt help young people cope with stress and worry and avoid developing more serious disorders and issues. FRIENDS has been used for family and group treatment of children and youth with anxiety and for prevention in children and youth at risk for developing an anxiety disorder.
According to Masi (2002) “Early-onset anxiety disorders can affect psychosocial development, predispose to other psychiatric disorders, continue into adulthood and negatively affect treatment of comorbid disorders”. Also international studies have shown that between 8 to 12% of young people suffer from anxiety complaints that affect their ability to function (Muris et al 2002). Therefore it is particularly important to detect early onset anxiety but also to provide appropriate prevention and intervention.
Barrett and colleagues have been involved in universal preventive intervention using the FRIENDS programme in schools. The school programme teaches a number of cognitive behaviour therapy strategies which are well established in the treatment of internalising disorders.
FRIENDS is unique in its commitment to evidence-based research support for all aspects of the programme. The programme’s founder, Dr Paula Barrett, published the world’s first family treatment randomised control trial for childhood anxiety in 1996. She and her research team have since been credited with publishing more controlled trials for childhood anxiety than any other group in the world.
For a copy of the latest evidence-based research abstracts click here.