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A User-Friendly Intervention for
Practitioners Working with Anxious Children

by Dr Allison Waters and Dr Trisha Groth



I still think about using my Take Action strategies at school. I am so busy playing with my friends now, the lunchtimes go really quickly. I read my strength cards on the bus to remind me of my strategies on the way to camp.  — 8 year old boy


Now used in over 500 health clinics, practices, and schools around Australia, the Take Action program is an easy-to-use, flexible, and robustly effective CBT child anxiety disorder treatment designed for both individual and group use.

The benefits of Take Action include:

  • Meets criteria for inclusion in the new school Be You Program Directory replacing Mind Matters (in review)
  • 10-year plus psychological research base
  • no accreditation or training fees
  • Australian developed
  • uses latest research on maladaptive thinking
  • teachs problem-solving, cognitive restructuring, assertive strategies, and social skills includes guidance on assessment
  • option to buy separate child/parent handbooks
  • adaptable as a 10-session group program or individual treatment.

Of the estimated 1.3 million adult Australians will suffer from an anxiety disorder this year, about half are likely to have experienced their first symptoms while still at primary school.

While anxiety is a normal part of childhood, around 278,000 Australian children a year develop a diagnosable disorder, experiencing fear, nervousness, and shyness, and avoiding places and activities.

Without treatment these children are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and experience physical complaints such as sleeplessness, diarrhoea, stomach aches and headaches.

While resiliency building and anti-bullying programs help with prevention they do not take the place of treatment for a children suffering an identified anxiety disorder.

If untreated, childhood anxiety disorders can take on a chronic and unremitting course toward a later life of social restriction, emotional torment and daily struggle.

More concerning though, the emotional states of anxiety and depression are closely linked. While it is not currently thought that anxiety causes depression, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with anxiety are also diagnosed with depression and in these cases the symptoms for both seem to be exacerbated, leading to a higher risk of suicide. It is no wonder then that an untreated diagnosable anxiety disorder in childhood is considered a risk factor for the later development of clinical depression.

Years of psychological research tells us that a short cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program helps anxious children cope better both socially and scholastically as well as avoid a possible lifetime of debilitating emotional distress.

However, of the very few established evidence-based CBT treatment programs for children currently available for schools most cost thousands of dollars in accreditation fees and teacher training.

The Take Action program, targeted toward children aged 4-7 and 8-12 years, was developed with these constraints in mind.

Take Action provides community-based and school psychologists as well as other CBT practitioners with easy-to-use module-based instructions and materials in an $85 manual to conduct a range of treatment approaches from individual anxiety management skills training to a complete 10-week group therapy program.

Take Action has an extensive 10-year research and validation background and combines recent research on threat-based cognitive biases and maladaptive thinking styles in childhood anxiety disorders with the well-established principles of CBT.

The program materials are designed and produced by leading psychology publisher Australian Academic Press, who has been providing quality evidence-based mental health interventions, including the former FRIENDS program, since 1987.


What psychologists are saying about Take Action

"Solutions for Life ran two Take Action groups in Term 4 2016 – 6 to 8 year olds and 9 to 12 year olds at our private practice clinic. We found the program easy to run and very engaging for both children and parents. It was fantastic to observe the children’s confidence improve over the course of the 10 week program through learning about their anxiety and how to take action by keeping calm and thinking strong thoughts. All of the children in the groups made progress, which is a testament to the program. Some of the take action goals achieved including:

  • having sleep a over for the first time,
  • sleeping in their own bed for an entire night,
  • staying at home without Mum or Dad."



This web site is for information only. If you require treatment for anxiety you should seek professional help. In Australia, try the APS Find a Psychologist Service.

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