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BRAVE is an online CBT program for young people experiencing anxiety and their parents. Learn more about the online program, and get information on when it is appropriate to use it, find out what young people thought of it, and read professional advice and young people’s tips for using it in practice.

This tool will assist with:

  • understanding worry and anxiety
  • learning strategies for managing anxiety
  • reducing anxiety
  • helping parents assist young people with anxiety.
Brave

About BRAVE

BRAVE is an interactive online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program for young people 8 to 17 years experiencing anxiety, with a supporting program for their parents. Self-paced and arranged in a series of lessons, each section assists the participant to understand and identify symptoms of anxiety, and to apply strategies for reducing anxiety.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most widely accepted practice for managing and reducing anxiety, with a strong evidence base. BRAVE has been developed by a team of researchers and health professionals from Griffith University, University of Southern Queensland and the University of Queensland.

Other notable features:

  • Includes audio tracks with guided exercises for deep breathing, muscle relaxation, guided imagery and other anxiety reduction techniques.
  • Includes an interactive ‘BRAVE ladder’, an excellent tool for planning and managing stepped exposure to sources of anxiety.

What does BRAVE stand for?

BRAVE is an acronym for the CBT anxiety management strategies discussed in the program:

  • Body signs - detecting the physiological symptoms of anxiety.
  • Relax - using relaxation techniques.
  • Activate helpful thoughts - using coping self-talk and cognitive restructuring.
  • Victory over fears - using exposure and problem solving to manage fears.
  • Enjoy yourself - positive reinforcement and self-reward.

Where to access this tool

BRAVE is free to use, and is available online in Australia only.

BRAVE program website

When to use BRAVE

BRAVE is designed for young people 8 to 17 years, who are experiencing or at risk of excessive worry or anxiety. Consider it for young people showing signs of generalised anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety or specific phobias. You may also find it useful as a prevention strategy to recommend during periods of high stress.

While this will have added benefit as part of regular face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy, it is also appropriate to introduce with some guidance as a stand-alone self-help strategy.

Recommend this for parents to help them understand and encourage strategies for managing worry and anxiety.

What young people thought of BRAVE

Likes

  • The structure is good, it’s easy to keep track of and presented nicely.
  • The relaxation/guided audio tracks are easily accessible, that could be really helpful for some people.
  • It uses a variety of different activities (games, quizzes, etc) to keep the attention of the user.
  • It is interactive, instead of a simple just ‘read and learn’ resource.
  • It constantly checks up on the progress of users, to ensure they understand and know how to use the content.

Dislikes

  • The structure, design, layout etc is more suited to younger teens, say up to fourteen. By seventeen it might come across a little... patronising?
  • Having to do the lessons in order has advantages, but is maybe not suited to everyone.
  • The repetitive steps/quizzes might get annoying to some.
  • It felt as though the program stressed that there is a common and generalised way to fix the problems. In reality, each individual is a specialised case, and as such it needs to be treated that way.
  • It felt as though there should have been more solutions and less presenting problems.

Professionals’ advice on using BRAVE in practice

This tool could be used in conjunction with traditional psychological therapy or for young people that cannot be seen due to waiting lists, their own reluctance or poor access to services. - Anna

This program can be done as and when participants want or need to do it. It can be useful as an exercise to do between sessions and to discuss, or as a good source of strategies (such as stepped exposure exercises) for practicing in advance of anxiety provoking situations. - Shane

How to introduce BRAVE

  • When discussing stress, anxiety or phobias with a young person, bring up the idea of learning more about anxiety, and suggest that there are skills that can be learnt to make managing it easier.
  • Ask whether the young person would be willing to use an online tool as a way of understanding and learning some of these skills.
  • Demonstrate the program on a practice computer or iPad/tablet.
  • Suggest it as a practice activity to undertake between now and the next time you see each other.
  • Note that while it can be done at any pace, they’ll get maximum benefit if they spend about a week practising the skills/ideas from each lesson.

Tips on using BRAVE’s key functions

  • Either you or the young person/parent can use the 20 minute trial to view, demonstrate or understand the program before signing up.
  • Lessons can be done at any time, but must be undertaken in order. Each takes 20-60 minutes depending on each person’s own speed.
  • Exercises from the lessons and supporting content can be found in the resources section, found in the top right hand menu.
  • Guided audio tracks for relaxation exercises can be found in the ‘Relaxation room’ section, also found in the top right hand menu.
  • The ‘BRAVE ladder’ is an excellent tool for planning stepped exposure exercises that you do with a young person.

Advice from young people

This is a good reference resource alongside other tools.

This would be best as an individual thing - maybe help them set up and get started, and check in on things like the ladders and exercises and if they find it helpful.

Don’t make someone do it, especially teens. They may find it silly or irrelevant. Suggest it as an option.

Acknowledgements

This tool was reviewed by Jacob (16) and Mahala (19), young people from the ReachOut.com community. Professional advice was provided by Anna Sidis (Psychologist) and Shane Cucow (Youth Worker).

Next steps