Paula Barrett

Paula Barrett with Anna Bligh

Paula Barrett with Anna Bligh

The FRIENDS program developed by Paula Barrett encompasses a variety of smaller programs that target children between the ages of 4 and 18 to assist in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. FRIENDS was initially conceived based on the research of the American psychologist Phillip Kendall, who in the 1980′s developed the ‘Coping Cat’ program. Kendall’s program was used successfully to treat children suffering from anxiety and avoidant disorder.

The FRIENDS program in its current iteration is the result of a refinement of Kendall’s original program in conjunction with persistent and rigorous research and clinical trials. Paula originally developed the Coping Koala program in 1991 which unlike Kendall’s program, treated children for anxiety in a group format, with family involvement. The program was revised and expanded in 1998 following research undertaken by Dr Barrett and researchers from Griffith University in Brisbane. The current version of the program incorporates editorial input from the behavioural science publisher Australian Academic Press, as well as the latest research in the fields of childhood anxiety, depression and resilience.

Childhood anxiety and depression is becoming increasingly common and prevalent amongst children. These serious afflictions can prevent children from engaging with daily life in a healthy and positive manner. Children experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety may have trouble with;

  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Social Competence
  • Peer Relations
  • Adjusting to school

FRIENDS is the only childhood anxiety and depression treatment and prevention program recognised by the World Health Organisation. Success rates are recorded to be as high as 80 percent, with positive outcomes remaining effective for up to 6 years post-treatment.

FRIENDS primarily aims to prevent childhood anxiety and depression, through the application of a skill set that helps children to manage their emotions and become resilient. The program in its application uses a community based cognitive behavioural intervention model that directly addresses the specific processes that have been established through research to contribute to the development and experience of anxiety and depression.

The FRIENDS program, developed by Paula, has been subject to a multitude of studies and external reviews, and deployed in schools and organisations all around the world. The results of the program are consistent regardless of context and show that the FRIENDS program is perhaps the most effective treatment for childhood anxiety and depression in the world.

To read some expert opinions on the FRIENDS programs, click here.

To read about an external review carried out by the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development, click here.

To read more about the author of the FRIENDS program, click here.

To enroll in programs or to talk to an expert please visit the pathwayshrc website: