The third BRAVE session is titled ‘Activating helpful thoughts’, which is the “A” in the acronym BRAVE. As well as recapping knowledge from previous sessions, this session focuses on positive thinking. It brings up the idea that the thoughts you have directly affect the feelings you have. The session gives participants a range of tools to use to tap into thoughts and change them before negative feelings occur. I think that this strategy is an extremely valuable one for those who suffer from anxiety.
The session begins by asking questions relating to the previous resources given. This gives participants an opportunity to recap what they have learnt so far. The homework from the last session was to practice relaxation techniques, and this was addressed again early on in session three. I think it’s great that the sessions flow from each other and are consistent in what they teach.
Several activities are then given in order to show the effect thoughts have on our reactions to different situations. The point is made that just because you feel worried about a situation does not mean it is dangerous, because others feel fine in the same situation. The example is given of a rollercoaster; some feel nervous of falling off while others enjoy the experience. This in itself is a reassuring fact if you have anxiety; knowing that not everyone feels anxious about the situation like you do often helps make the situation feel less dangerous.
The activities are all engaging and interactive and require you to process the information given. They all revolve around discovering how positive and negative thoughts make a difference when feeling worried. There is so much knowledge and research evident in the activities.
Once again, I felt the simplistic cartoon stories used to show the main points miss the target audience. However, I am beginning to change my mind about the program’s use of language. This session showed great use of practical, helpful language when discussing emotions. I think the creators have been very purposeful in the language they use. I am now beginning to see that perhaps the simplistic feel of the language simply makes it more accessible and easier to discuss.
I hope more will be said on ‘Activating helpful thinking,’ because this session was more explaining the process and not as practical as it could have been. I think that this idea is a valuable tool for anxiety suffers to have.
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.