So- I want to tell you shortly, what is this Coping Koala thing really about. The Coping Koala, originally Coping Cat, now FRIENDS, is a prevention program for children, thought to improve their social and stress coping skills, to prevent anxiety disorders and depression by building emotional resilience.
As I’ve said – the program was originally called “Coping Cat”, but in the versions for Australia it was modified to “Coping Koala” and for Canada to “Coping Bear”, so that it’s closer to the children and easier to comprehend. Now it’s called FRIENDS, you’ll see why, but the coping koala or cat are still a part of it 😉
FRIENDS is by now the only childhood anxiety prevention program acknowledged by the World Health Organization, you can take a look at the impressive evidence base of FRIENDS here.
The program Coping Cat was developed at Temple University in Philadelphia by Philip Kendall in the 1980s as an individual treatment for children with diagnosed anxiety disorder. In 1991 at the Griffith University, Queensland, Australia Dr. Paula Barrett modified the Coping Cat and the Coping Koala was born, as group treatment for children with an anxiety disorder.In 1998 the FRIENDS program was developed as an early intervention and prevention program.
Why FRIENDS? The acronym represents the main principles of the program:
- Feelings (Talk about your feelings and care about other people’s feelings)
- Relax (Do “milkshake” breathing, have some quiet time)
- I can try! (We can all try our best)
- Encourage (Step plans to Happy Home)
- Nurture (Quality time together doing fun activities)
- Don’t forget to be brave! (Practice skills everyday with friends and family)
- Stay happy
The prevalence of anxiety disorders in adolescents is around 15%, so such programs may be very useful, as 80% of the children, who were showing signs of an anxiety disorder do no longer show such behavior after completing the program.
The program has 10 sessions, 2 booster sessions and 4 parent sessions. There are FRIENDS for Children (ages 7–11) , FRIENDS for Youth (ages 12–16) and Fun Friends (ages 4-7)
Children learn how to deal with difficult situations, to recognize signs of anxiety and to relax, they learn different problem solving techniques, positive thinking, emotional resilience, conflict resolution etc. The coping koala is some sort of tutor, but more a friend by the learning process, they do the tasks together with the koala, the koala shares its experience and the children share their experiences to it.
So – it’s a pretty good thing and still one of a kind – no other program is so extensive and has such evidence base. It’s worth learning more: www.friendsinfo.net or Introduction booklet, you can also view a video from the Coping Cat!
The information in that post is from that PDF © 2003 Barrett, Webster, Turner, & May