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Age From: 


Age To: 


Delivered To: 

  • Children/Students
  • Parents/Carers


  • Component 2 : Social and emotional learning for students
  • Component 4 : Helping children with mental health difficulties


  • Emotional and Behavioural difficulties
  • Social and emotional skills
  • Internalising only (anxiety, excessive worrying etc)

Special Student Group: 

  • Culturally/Linguistically diverse
  • Lower socioeconomic/disadvantaged


Target group:
FRIENDS developmentally targets children from pre-school through to primary school. The Fun FRIENDS program is tailored for children aged 4-7 years, and the FRIENDS for Children program targets children aged 7–11 years. There is also an adolescent version available.

Designed for, or demonstrated applicability to, special groups:
has been shown to be applicable to children from linguistically diverse backgrounds.


The FRIENDS for Life program is a cognitive-behavioural therapy program designed to be used in the classroom that aims to increase the resilience and happiness of children. The FRIENDS program teaches children and families cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills for managing feelings and coping with life challenges with a positive and resilient attitude. It promotes important personal development concepts such as identity, self-esteem, problem solving, self-expression and building positive relationships.



The FRIENDS for Life program covers the following topics:

  • Identifying feelings – this component gives the participants the opportunity to learn how to tell how other people are feeling, and how to know and show one’s own feelings. Empathy skills are taught.
  • Understanding one’s physiological response – this involves getting children to ‘listen’ to their bodies during stressful situations.
  • Learning to relax – identifying techniques/strategies (e.g. deep muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, visual imagery etc.) which promote self-regulation and self-soothing so as to combat negative thoughts.
  • Linking thoughts and feelings – this component encourages the students to examine the difference between one’s thoughts and feelings (i.e. heart vs. head), and how they relate to behaviour. Children learn to identify positives in themselves, others and life situations in general.
  • Developing coping step plans – facing challenges in a gradual manner, setting appropriate goals, choosing positive coping role models, forming support networks and rewarding attempts at coping.
  • Practising the management plan - (i.e. FRIENDS, F = Feelings; R = Remember to Relax; I = I can do it! I can try my best!; E = Explore solutions and coping step plans, N = Now reward yourself!; D = Don’t forget to practice; and S = Smile! Stay calm for Life!)
  • Reviewing and practice – children complete homework activities related to each session, which help to inform parents and carers of the skills and knowledge developed in class, which can then be implemented at home. There are also two booster sessions that refresh knowledge and skills. Children’s progress during the year is also reviewed at this time.

Program Structure / Methods of Delivery: 

The FRIENDS program involves ten weeks of 1 to 1.5 hour sessions to be run in class time, and has corresponding homework tasks for each session so the skills can be practiced at home with families. Schools may choose to complete the program over a 10-week period, or choose to conduct shorter sessions over a longer period of time. At the conclusion, there is also the option to run two booster sessions via homework tasks, where the students can review their progress and re-visit the FRIENDS management plan.

Parent Component:
Parents have an opportunity to support their children and learn more about FRIENDS themselves by attending two parent sessions that may be arranged by the school. In addition, handouts are provided to supply parents with further information.

Staff professional development (PD):
FRIENDS has been specifically designed for use in early childcare centres, kindergartens and schools as a universal preventative program, run by teachers in normal class time. All teachers must first receive training, provided by Pathways Health and Research Centre ( prior to running the program. Private workshops for FRIENDS are regularly held in various States. It costs $350 per person to attend one of these workshops. A 10% discount applies for two to three staff members to attend the workshop; for three or more a 15% discount applies. The topics covered are:

  • The characteristics, aetiology, and prevalence of anxiety and depression
  • The importance of early intervention and prevention programs
  • A step-by-step guide through the FRIENDS program
  • Hints on group process and effective group facilitation
  • How to get the FRIENDS program up and running in your setting

Full staff in-services, where schools host the training day, costs $3,000 (price is negotiable depending on the number of participants).

Parents are also encouraged to attend the training for the FRIENDS programs. Parents are then able to contribute and assist teachers to implement the program in classrooms.


Each teacher should have access to a Manual when conducting a FRIENDS classroom session, which comes complete with session guides for all 10 sessions, two booster sessions and two parent sessions. The manual includes photocopy masters of all handouts and overheads for the parent sessions. Suggested scripts for group leaders are provided within each session as well as ideas and points to note when conducting discussions.

  • Fun FRIENDS (Children 4-6) Teacher Manual: $42.90 (incl. GST)
  • Fun FRIENDS Family Adventure Book: $22.00 (incl. GST)
  • Fun FRIENDS Classroom poster: $10.00:


  • FRIENDS for Life (Children 7-11) Teacher Manual: $49.50 (incl. GST)
  • FRIENDS for Life (Children 7-11) Student Workbook: $17.60 (incl. GST)
  • FRIENDS for Life (Youth 12-16) Teacher Manual: $49.50 (incl. GST)
  • FRIENDS for Life (Youth 12-16) Student Workbook: $18.70 (incl. GST)
  • FRIENDS for LifeTeacher Resource CD: $29.00
  • FRIENDS for Life classroom poster: $15.00

Program Specific Audience: 


Structured Sessions: 


Student Assessment Measures: 


Professional Learning: 

  • Professional Learning Available

Professional Learning Compulsory: 


Formal Parent/Carer Component Provided: 

Evidence of Effectiveness

Evidence of Effectiveness Rating: 


Evidence of Effectiveness Description: 

Multiple studies document positive behavioural outcomes at post-test, with at least one study indicating positive behavioural impacts at follow-up at least one year after the intervention ended.

Competency 1 : Self Awareness: 


Competency 3 : Self-management: 


Competency 4 : Responsible decision-making: 


Competency 5 : Relationship skills: 


Identified Theoretical Framework: 


Identified Theoretical Framework Description: 

FRIENDS is a well-researched innovative program with a firm theoretical basis. The theoretical model for the prevention and early intervention of anxiety and depression addresses cognitive (mind), physiological (body) and learning (behaviour) processes, which are seen to interact in the development, maintenance and experience of anxiety.

Many of the skills and techniques taught during interventions that are associated with these three areas have been used extensively in the prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders in children and youth.

Survey/Audit Tools Available: 



Barrett, P. M., Farrell, L. J., Ollendick, T. H., & Dadds, M. (2006). Long-term outcomes of an Australian universal prevention trial of anxiety and depression symptoms in children and youth: An evaluation of the FRIENDS Program. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35, 403-411.

Barrett, P. M., Lock, S., & Farrell, L. (2005). Developmental differences in universal preventive intervention for child anxiety. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 10, 539-555.

Barrett, P. M., Sonderegger, R., & Xenos, S. (2003). Using FRIENDS to combat anxiety and adjustment problems among young migrants to Australia: A national trial. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 241–260.

Bernstein, G. A., Layne, A. E., Egan, E .A., & Tennison, D. M. (2005). School-based interventions for anxious children. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 1118–1127.

Conradt, J., & Essau, C. A. (2003, July). Feasibility and efficacy of the FRIENDS program for the prevention of anxiety in children. Paper presented at the 24th International Conference: Stress and Anxiety Research Society, Lisbon, Portugal.

Cooley-Quille, M., Boyd, R. C., & Grados, J. J. (2004). Feasibility of an anxiety prevention intervention for community violence exposed children. Journal of Primary Prevention, 25, 105-123.

Lock, S., & Barrett, P. M., (2003). A longitudinal study of developmental differences in universal preventive intervention for child anxiety. Behaviour Change, 20, 183–199.

Lowry-Webster, H., Barrett, P. M., & Lock, S. (2003). A universal prevention trial of anxiety symptomatology during childhood: Results at one-year follow-up. Behaviour Change, 20, 25–43.

Stallard, P., Simpson, N., Anderson, S., Carter, T., Osborn, C., & Bush, S. (2005). An evaluation of the FRIENDS programme: A cognitive behaviour therapy intervention to promote emotional resilience. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 90, 1016-1019.



Prof. Paula Barrett

About the Author(s): 

Paula Barrett is Adjunct Professor at the School of Education, University of Queensland; Director of Pathways Health and Research Centre, an international consultancy-based clinic; and Patron of the Pathways to Resilience Trust, a charity for the prevention anxiety and depression. Paula is internationally recognised as a preeminent scholar and groundbreaking researcher in the field of children psychology, and has a distinguished international reputation as a keynote presenter. For over 15 years Paula has evaluated the FRIENDS for Life and Fun FRIENDS programs teaching children positive coping strategies and life-skills to face challenging tasks. In 2008 Paula received the Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year Award; and was a finalist in the Australian of the Year Award, Queensland, and the Queenslander of the Year Award.

Contact Information: 

Postal address:

Friends Resilience

PO Box 5699

West End  QLD  4101


Phone: +61 437 628 389