A groundbreaking approach to helping shy kids via the internet is the focus of unique research at Griffith University
A team of researchers have developed a series of psychological interventions for child anxiety called the BRAVE-ONLINE program. Designed to be fun and interactive for both children and parents, it is based on cognitive behavioural principles and is conducted completely online.
“Social anxiety, extreme shyness, or fear of embarrassment in front of others is one of the most common types of anxiety experienced by children,” said Dr Caroline Donovan from Griffith’s School of Psychology and Behavioural Basis of Health.
Working alongside researchers from The University of Southern Queensland and The University of Queensland, she said the team is responding to a steady demand from parents who are concerned about their child’s mental health.
“Parents and children are more aware than ever about social anxiety and how it can impact the young person and therefore we are continuing to see demand for this type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
“The unique aspect of BRAVE is that the program is completed online.
“We developed the program following evidence that as many as two thirds of children who experience anxiety may not be getting the help they need. There are various reasons why attending therapy sessions is not possible for many children, however advances in technology have opened up new opportunities for families to access these services via the internet.
“Our research shows that BRAVE-ONLINE is just as effective as face-to-face therapy for treating child anxiety. The difference is we can offer BRAVE-ONLINE to children with social anxiety from all around Australia. All they need is access to the internet.”
The BRAVE team is currently seeking participants for a new study. Children with social anxiety (and their parents) between the ages of 8 and 12 are invited to participate in this study.
Children and their parents will participate in a BRAVE-ONLINE program which will help them learn strategies for managing social anxiety and ways to cope with anxiety-provoking social situations.