Session five of the BRAVE program is based around the fourth letter in the acronym, V for Victory over your fears. This session is much shorter than the others and while it does not contain as much content, in some ways it is my favourite to date. For anxiety suffers, gaining Victory over your fears sounds pretty good! That means complete freedom to be who you are and do what you love. This session really appealed to me and I was very pleased with the ideas taught.
Firstly, as usual in the BRAVE program, there is a quick summary of the previous sessions and the knowledge acquired. This is in the form of a cartoon story (rather cheesy) and a quiz. This is a good way to refresh the participant’s experience so far. Then the session goes on to explain different ways that teenagers show their anxiety. I think this is really encouraging, because sometimes your reaction to anxiety seems abnormal. For example, you may not cry but rather get angry and irritated when feeling anxious. The following activities show different coping mechanisms for anxiety, the most common being avoidance of the situation.
The crux of the session (and I think the crux to overcoming anxiety) is that avoidance doesn’t work. This is a terrifying reality when you are anxious. To have victory over your fears you must do the very thing you are fearful of! It seems like awful news, but in reality that is where freedom lies. This session points out that avoidance has short term effects but in the end makes anxiety worse. A really fun ‘choose your own adventure’ style game is used to show this idea.
The content of the BRAVE program, and this session in particular, is great. It holds the keys to some very important ideas when battling with anxiety.
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.