The most essential thing…
Once again session four focussed on activating helpful thoughts when in an anxious situation. This session focused more on practical ways of activating helpful thoughts and examples where this technique is useful.
The session started, as always, with a recap of previously acquired knowledge. A ‘true or false’ style game is used to test what you know about relaxation techniques, helpful thoughts and the different types of anxiety. I’m still struggling with the way that this program casts anxiety sufferers in a ‘box’ depending on the specific ‘type’ of anxiety.
Cartoon stories were shown to depict several different situations where unhelpful thoughts had led the characters to feeling anxious. While I really don’t like the cartoon style animation, I thought this part was done extremely well. It clearly showed that when someone begins to think negatively and unrealistically about a situation they become more anxious about it. The session provided real life scenarios that you imagine yourself in to practice activating helpful thoughts.
Four steps were then provided when activating positive thoughts in a situation:
1. Detect unhelpful thoughts
2. Look at the facts
3. Judge unhelpful thoughts
4. Activate helpful thoughts
I know that I certainly can’t remember all that when I’m feeling anxious, but I think it was a clever way to break down critical thinking in a situation.
A really good part of this session for me was when it gave two really practical tips for activating helpful thoughts or critical thinking. One was writing down your thoughts then sorting them out on paper, and the other was asking yourself what you would tell a friend in the same situation as you are in. Little things like this show how well researched and experienced the creators of this program are!
The session then went through a series of activities where you fill out a questionnaire of sorts. I didn’t find this part particularly helpful or interesting; it is quite time consuming and monotonous. It asks you to rate how helpful critical thinking is in anxiety provoking situations and provide examples. It kind of feels like you are the counsellor!
I enjoy the freedom over anxiety this program gives participants. I think it’s really important that anxiety sufferers feel that they have control over their fears and thoughts. This session showed the importance of thinking, which is arguably the most essential thing for teenagers with anxiety to master.
The BRAVE Program, which has been trialled and evaluated over the last 13 years, is an online self-help course that allows young people and their parents to seek support for anxiety in the comfort of their own homes. Read one young person’s take on the new online programme which is supported by Beyond Blue.