Programs for children and teens

Programs for children and teens

About the Cool Kids Program

The Cool Kids program has been running at Macquarie University since 1993. It is a structured, skills-based program that teaches children (including teenagers) and their parents how to better manage the child’s anxiety. It involves the participation of both children and their parents, and focuses on teaching clear and practical skills. The program has undergone continual scientific evaluation and development to include the latest understanding of anxiety and its treatment. Current results indicate that most young people who complete our programs show significant improvement. Following treatment, there are 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.

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 (stepladders)
  • Learning other coping skills such as building assertiveness or learning to solve problems

The main Cool Kids program is designed to target children aged 7 to 17 years. There are slightly different versions for younger (up to around 12 years) and older (13-17 years) children. There are also variations of Cool Kids for specific groups and particular delivery including: An outreach version (delivered over the internet, CD, or telephone for children who cannot come for face to face treatment), a version for delivery through schools, a version for teenagers with a mix of anxiety and depression, and a version for children who have an autism spectrum or related diagnosis. 

The Cool Kids program has been translated into a number of languages and it is currently used by therapists in many countries. Thousands of children around the world have benefitted by participating in Cool Kids.

Participating in Cool Kids

The Centre for Emotional Health Clinic offers Cool Kids as part of our research and training programs (at a subsidised cost) and also as a full fee paying service. Participating in our research and training programs allows families access to cutting edge treatment for anxiety, at a cost considerably less than that charged by private psychologists. We can keep costs down because we are funded by the Australian Government to conduct research into anxiety in young people and some of our services are conducted by postgraduate clinical psychology interns as part of their training. People who attend our programs are asked to help with the research in a variety of ways. Firstly, participants are asked to assist us by filling in questionnaires and coming in for assessments, even after their program has finished. This is because our studies investigate the long-term effectiveness of the treatments we provide. Secondly, many of the treatments that we run involve minor variations to continually test the best possible treatment. This means that we sometimes have different versions of treatment and participants cannot choose which version they get.

If you can attend our clinic in North Ryde:

If you think that the Cool Kids program may be helpful for your child, your child will first complete a comprehensive clinical assessment. If the assessment identifies that anxiety is the main concern for your child, we will offer a place in either the research or training subsidised Cool Kids Program. If the assessment indicates that Cool Kids is not suitable for your child or you do not wish to be a part of the subsidised program we will provide appropriate referrals or suggest individual sessions with one of our full fee private psychologists.

All Cool Kids assessment and treatment sessions are currently delivered in an individual (non group) format and are attended by a child/adolescent and at least one parent/carer. Assessment and treatment is conducted either by postgraduate interns who are completing specialist training in clinical psychology or by registered psychologists who have completed specialist training in clinical psychology. Sessions are completed at our clinic at Macquarie University, North Ryde.

To find out more about completing the Cool Kids Program at our clinic please read the Cool Kids Flyer and then register your interest by completing our online intake. This will be reviewed by one of our senior clinicians and we will then contact you to book an assessment session or to provide alternate referrals.

Other options

For families unable to attend our clinic at Macquarie University, North Ryde, a new online version of Cool Kids is currently being evaluated. Further information can be found at the Cool Kids Online page.

We also offer individual therapy which is not part of our research for both the Cool Kids Program and treatment for other mental health difficulties with registered psychologists and clinical psychologists. Further information can be found on our Individual Therapy page.

If you have questions about Cool Kids please call our friendly clinic admin team on 9850 8711.

Register now

About Cool Kids ASD

The program focuses on teaching children and parents skills to manage anxiety in everyday situations. These skills include:

  • Understanding anxiety 
  • Relaxation 
  • Parenting strategies that encourage brave behaviour 
  • Identifying and using helpful (realistic) thoughts, and most importantly, 
  • Facing fears, building independence and increasing confidence  through stepladders (gradual exposure). 

Social skills are also touched on in the program as they are often a crucial part of building a child’s confidence, however parents should note that social skills are not the primary focus of the program and consequently the program will not replace programs or treatments that focus on social skill development.

The program is offered in both a group format (for children in grades 2 through 6) and on an individual basis (for children and adolescents of any age).

Please read through the information in the Cool Kids ASD Flyer. The flyer contains information that will help you determine whether your child is suitable for this program.

Download the Program Flyer.

About Cool Little Kids

Research has shown that the two biggest risk factors for the development of anxiety is shyness (or behavioural inhibition) at a young age and having a parent who is anxious or depressed. The Cool Little Kids Program aims to educate parents about how best to parent their anxious child. Topics of the program include:

  • Understanding anxiety and shyness in preschool children
  • Causes and risk factors for child anxiety
  • Helpful and unhelpful ways of responding to anxiety in children
  • Skills and strategies to help your child build brave behaviours and face fears
  • Dealing with setbacks and difficulties
  • How to maintain progress after the program ends.

The program consists of 6 group sessions across a 6-8 week period, held at the same time each week. Each session runs for approximately 2 hours.

To find out more about completing the Cool Little Kids Program, please read through the Cool Little Kids Flyer. If you are interested in completing the program please contact us by telephone on 02 9850 8711 or register your interest.

Cool Little Kids Flyer

We also offer individual therapy for both the Cool Little Kids Program and treatment for other mental health difficulties with registered psychologists and clinical psychologists. Further information can be found on our Individual Therapy page.

Helping distressed children & adolescents suffering from somatic health complaints (including recurring headaches, stomach-aches etc).

About 40% of children and adolescents may experience functional somatic health complaints, which are medically benign (that is, they have no identified organic cause). The most common somatic-health complaints experienced by children and adolescents include recurring abdominal pain, gastro-intestinal symptoms, recurring headaches, chest pains, dizziness and nausea. Research has shown that these children are prone to have increased rates of school absenteeism, and this may also have an impact on their learning, peer relations and overall quality of life. Studies have also indicated that up to 80% of children and adolescents struggling to cope with these recurring functional somatic health complaints may also be experiencing anxiety and/or depressive problems.

Our new Cool Kids and Adolescent Health Program is designed to specifically help children learn how to concurrently cope and manage their somatic symptoms as well as learn stress management skills. This program is specifically designed for children aged 7 to 17 years who are experiencing recurring somatic health complaints for at least 3 months (and which a GP or medical specialist has confirmed that the symptoms are medically benign). The program is individually based and involves 10 x 1 hour weekly therapy sessions held either in person at the Centre for Emotional Health Clinic at Macquarie University or via Skype or telephone. Interested families will be invited to attend a screening assessment to determine eligibility.

Learn more and get started

Organisation: Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University.

Researchers: Associate Professor Maria Kangas, Prof Ron Rapee, & Prof Mike Jones.

Participants required: Children and adolescents aged 7-17 years who are experiencing recurring somatic health complaints for a minimum of 3-months.

Contact: For more information, please email Associate Professor Kangas and her team by emialing coolkidshealth@mq.edu.au or maria.kangas@mq.edu.au or telephone (02) 9850 4082.

What is the Study Without Stress Program and who should participate?

Study Without Stress (SWoS) is a program for any student currently undertaking their Higher School Certificate (HSC).  It is particularly suitable for year 11 students who plan to undertake their HSC next year.  SWOS is a psycho-educational program that equips students with both knowledge and practical tips on how to approach and overcome the stress associated with exams in the final high school year. We encourage students to participate early in their HSC year rather than waiting until stress has reached a severe degree, however the program can be beneficial at any stage. The program uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques to help participants get the most out of their final year whilst keeping stress to a manageable level.

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and how does it work?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) assists individuals to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and replace them through learning and implementing healthier skills and habits. CBT is described as an active, solution-focused therapy and involves addressing specific issues by learning new skills, practicing those skills using homework and in-session tasks then applying them to real life situations to create lasting behaviour change. By using the CBT approach, SWoS will focus on both thoughts and expectations about the HSC year, as well as actual behaviours, such as procrastination and study habits.

The Study Without Stress Program covers the following topics:

  • Understanding stress (including causes, symptoms and the role of the stress response)
  • Goal setting
  • Managing expectations and beliefs about the HSC
  • Creating effective timetables
  • Learning how thoughts can affect performance
  • Challenging negative or unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Understanding perfectionism
  • Understanding procrastination
  • Tips to deal with work avoidance
  • Building good study habits
  • Procedures for problem solving
  • Exam preparation

How long will the program take and when will it run?

The program is run across 6 x 1 hour sessions outside of school hours. These sessions take place across 8 weeks of the school term (usually from weeks 2-10). Currently the program is being run in an individual therapy format only. You will be required to spend a little time each week between sessions practicing the skills or completing short tasks to facilitate learning.

Does the program cover specific HSC subject content from the syllabus?

No. The program aims to assist you to study and perform in exams more effectively and with less stress, however the program is not designed to cover specific subject or Board of Studies syllabus content. Speak to your school counsellor or year adviser for information about ways to revise specific subject content.

What if I need help with issues beyond study stress?

The Study Without Stress program is designed to help year 11 and 12 students manage stress associated with the HSC year. The program is not designed to be a psychological intervention for more severe anxiety or depression and therefore will not be suitable for some students who are experiencing these concerns. The CEH Clinic offers more intensive one-on-one treatment for adolescents that need help with such issues. Please phone or email the Clinic if you feel that this is a more suitable option.

Download the Program Flyer

A registered or clinical psychologist will conduct an assessment to determine your specific needs and construct a treatment plan informed by latest research. 

For further information on our individual therapy services for children and adolescents, please see this flyer PDF, 174.33 KB.

The Cool Kids Online program is based on the Cool Kids face-to-face program which has been running at Macquarie University since 1993. The Cool Kids program is a structured, skills-based program that teaches children (aged 7 – 12) and their parents how to better manage anxiety. Results show most young people who complete our program experience significant improvements with decreases in worry, fear, family distress and life interference.

The Cool Kids Online program has 8 online lessons for parents and children to complete together over 10 weeks. The online lessons are accompanied by weekly 10-15 minute phone calls with a therapist. All contact is over the phone or internet. Parents take the role of their child’s coach helping them put skills into practice, and most importantly, give their child support and encouragement along the way. Coaches also learn about helpful ways of responding to anxiety.

Topics covered in the program include:

  • Learning about feelings and anxiety
  • Fighting fear by facing fear (stepladders)
  • Detective thinking, and learning to think more realistically
  • Building assertiveness and dealing with teasing
  • Ways that parents can help Helpful ways of coping with feelings

Current Cool Kids Online research

Participating in our research program gives you and your child access to cutting edge anxiety treatment for free. We can offer free treatment because our research is funded by an Australian Rotary Health Research grant.

Being part of a research trial means you’ll be asked to complete some additional tasks such as questionnaires and telephone interviews before and after treatment so we can investigate the long-term effectiveness of the online treatment.

If you’re accepted into the trial, there is an equal chance of being allocated into two possible groups:

  1. accessing Cool Kids Online immediately or
  2. waiting 10 weeks to access Cool Kids Online.

For more information about the Cool Kids Online Treatment Study download the flyer.

How can I participate?

Due to high demand, the Cool Kids Online program has closed for 2016. We will re-open for our assessment and treatment in January 2017.

Adolescent Program for Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depressive disorders represent approximately two-thirds of all mental health problems in young people. Chilled Plus is an online treatment program for adolescents with anxiety and depression.

The program has 8 online modules and is accompanied by a weekly 30-minute phone call with a trained therapist. The program is based on cognitive behavioural treatment, incorporating the latest research and techniques in working with motivation and negative emotions. Adolescents will learn creative ways to manage emotions and accomplish their immediate goals.

The online program is based on the ‘Chilled’ treatment program, which has been running at the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University since 2006. Current results indicate that most adolescents who complete our programs show significant improvement, with reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.

Topics covered in the program include:

  • Learning about anxiety and depression
  • Tackling motivation and setting goals
  • Fighting avoidance by facing it (stepladders)
  • Managing emotions
  • Realistic thinking
  • Coping strategies and assertiveness
  • Handling teasing and bullying
  • Building relationships
  • Ways that parents can help

Our Current Chilled Plus Research

Participating in our research programs allows families access to cutting edge treatment for anxiety, at a cost considerably less than that charged by private psychologists. We can keep costs down because we are funded by an Australian Rotary Health Research grant to conduct research into anxiety in young people. People who participate in Chilled Plus are asked to help with the research in a variety of ways. Firstly, participants are asked to assist us by filling in questionnaires and completing phone assessment interviews, even after their program has finished. This is because our studies investigate the long-term effectiveness of the treatments we provide. Second, as this is a randomized controlled trial, there are two groups: 1. Chilled Plus Treatment Group and 2. Waitlist Group. This means that 50% of participants will be put on a waitlist for 8 weeks before they start the online treatment program. They will be offered exactly the same treatment after the waitlist period of 8 weeks is over.

What does treatment involve?

As part of the Chilled Plus Online Treatment adolescents will complete 8 modules of online treatment. Each module will be accompanied by a 30-minute call with a trained therapist. In addition, the therapists will also have contact with parents throughout the program. This means that treatment is completely conducted over the phone and the internet with no face-no-face sessions.

Like all research at the Centre for Emotional Health, adolescents will be closely monitored by an experienced team of psychologists, who will be available to your family throughout the therapeutic process.

How Much Does the Program Cost?

We ask that all participants place a $100 bond, which will be refunded once all post-treatment questionnaires are completed.

How can I participate in this program?

We believe that the Chilled Plus Online Treatment will offer Australian adolescents the best treatment for anxiety and depression currently available. We invite you to contact us to find out more. If you have questions about this treatment please contact our friendly research officers on chilledplus@mq.edu.au or 9850 6741.

Download this flyer for more information PDF, 371.65 KB.

Location and hours

Location
The Australian Hearing Hub
Level 1, 16 University Ave
Macquarie University NSW 2109

View map and directions

Clinic hours
Monday to Thursday: 9am – 7pm
Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

Phone: 02 9850 8711
Fax: 02 9850 6578 

Email: ehc.admin@mq.edu.au

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