Cool Kids is a proven, nine-session program for children and adolescents who are struggling with high levels of anxiety, and their parents. Children benefit by attending group sessions with other kids with similar difficulties, and learning how to recognise, manage and reduce their anxiety.
Cool Kids is internationally recognised as an extremely effective way to help children and families suffering the effects of high levels of anxiety. The program is based on over 20 years of research conducted by Australia’s Macquarie University, Royal North Shore Hospital and University of Queensland, and is now used extensively throughout Australia and several other countries.
Current results indicate that most young people who complete our programs show significant improvement. In fact, studies have shown that, by the end of the program, 88% of children show moderate or greater change and that the changes last over time.1
Topics covered in the program include:
- Learning about feelings and anxiety
- Learning to think more realistically
- Parenting an anxious child
- Fighting fear by facing fear
- Learning other coping skills such as building assertiveness or learning to solve problems
- How to deal with setbacks and difficulties
- Maintaining progress after the program ends.
We know from research2 that better results are gained when parents attend with their children, so children aged seven years or older will only be accepted into the program if at least one parent (but preferably both) can attend with them.
How the program works
Groups of similarly aged children and their families attend nine sessions over a twelve to thirteen week period. The first eight sessions are conducted on consecutive weeks (usually with a break for any school holidays). Session 9 is held two or three weeks after Session 8 to allow families enough time to practice the new strategies and techniques before the final session. We keep groups small and interactive (usually between 3 and 5 families), so that all families are able to get the most out of the program. They’re often lots of fun too!
Each Cool Kids session runs for around two hours with a short break mid-session for light refreshments. We usually hold our sessions as early as possible after the end of a school day, but if a family is attending from a distance we try to take that into account.
The sessions are facilitated by two group leaders (usually Elaine and another trained pyschologist or educator). The entire group meets for the session introduction and review of the past week’s challenges and successes. Then the group splits into two: a child group and a parent group, working through parent and child versions of the Cool Kids workbook. Lastly, the whole group rejoins for a review of the session and a discussion about practice tasks for the week ahead.
What you can expect
The biggest advantage of working in groups with other families is that kids learn that they’re not alone, and that their feelings and symptoms are experienced by other children too. And parents benefit by sharing their stories, problems and successes with one another – and by knowing there are other families going through similar challenges.
On the program, children learn new ways to recognise, manage and reduce their anxiety. They learn how anxiety affects our bodies, thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and identify the link between thoughts and feelings. Parents learn how to parent a child with anxiety, and long-term strategies and tips to help your child manage their anxiety.
Following treatment, families usually notice marked increases in school attendance, academic achievement, confidence, number of friends and involvement in extra-curricular activities and decreases in worry, shyness, fear and family distress.