• Overview

    Prof. Ron Rapee, Heidi Lyneham, Carolyn Schniering, Viviana Wuthrish, Maree Abbott, Jennifer Hudson and Ann Wignall
    Who is this for?
    Children/Students, Parents/Carers, Culturally/Linguistically diverse, Lower socioeconomic/disadvantaged, Rural setting, Special needs (disability in learning, intellect, physical etc)
    Mentally Healthy Communities
    Secondary School
    Emotional and behavioural difficulties
    The Cool Kids program is a cognitive behaviour therapy program that teaches children, who have met the criteria for a principal diagnosis of any anxiety disorder, cognitive behavioural skills that are designed to combat anxiety. The program helps children to recognise emotions such as fear, stress and anxiety, helps them to challenge beliefs associated with feeling nervous, and encourages them to gradually engage with fearful activities in more positive ways. There is an additional component for parents that informs them of these principles and also teaches alternate ways of interacting with their child. The program has a number of additional components that can also be included, depending on the needs of the child, including dealing with teasing, social skills training and problem solving.
    Australian Government funding for our research allows families access to cutting edge treatment for anxiety, at a cost considerably less than that charged by private psychologists. We can also keep costs down when our services are conducted by our postgraduate clinical psychology interns as part of their training. People who attend our subsidised programs are asked to assist us by filling in questionnaires and coming in for assessments, even after their program has finished. This is because our studies investigate the long-term effectiveness of the treatments we provide. Secondly, many of the treatments that we run involve minor variations to continually test the best possible treatment. This means that we sometimes have different versions of treatment and participants cannot choose which version they get.
    Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania
    Clinic Manager, Macquarie University Anxiety Research Unit, Department of Psychology
    Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109
    Phone number
    02 9850 8711
  • Implementation

    Detailed description

    Cool Kids specifically targets children who have met the diagnostic criteria for a principal diagnosis of any anxiety disorder or who report high levels of anxious symptoms. Cool Kids has been demonstrated to be applicable to children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Some translated versions are available. The program has also been shown to work with children with high functioning autism and with children from rural and regional areas. The skills components of the Cool Kids program include: Linking thoughts and feelings, Cognitive restructuring, Self-rewarding, Exposure hierarchies, Problem solving, Anxiety management, Child management (for parents)

    Student assessment measures


    Professional learning compulsory


    Staff professional development (PD): Only psychologists or school counsellors who have experience working with children from a cognitive behavioural perspective can facilitate this program. Workshops are recommended, and are typically one day but can be organised to be more in-depth. Workshops are often organised at Macquarie University in NSW, but can also be conducted in local areas on request.

  • Evidence

    Identified theoretical framework

    Cool Kids is based on knowledge and empirical evidence about maintaining factors of childhood anxiety including biases in information processing, excessive avoidance, and parental overprotection. The developers of the program have been extensively involved in fundamental research into the nature and maintenance of childhood anxiety.


    Chalfant, A., & Rapee, R.M. (2007). Treating anxiety disorders in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders: A controlled trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1842-1857.| Lyneham, H., & Rapee, R. M. (2006). Evaluation of therapist-supported parent-implemented CBT for anxiety disorders in rural children. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1287- 1300.| Mifsud, C., & Rapee, R. M. (2005). Early intervention for childhood anxiety in a school setting: Outcomes for an economically disadvantaged population. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 996 - 1004.| Rapee, R. M. (2000). Group treatment of children with anxiety disorders: Outcome and predictors of treatment response. Australian Journal of Psychology, 52, 125-129.| Rapee, R. M. (2003). The influence of comorbidity on treatment outcome for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 41, 105-112.| Rapee, R. M., Abbott, M. J., & Lyneham, H. J. (2006). Bibliotherapy for children with anxiety disorders using written materials for parents: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 436- 444.
  • Authors


    Prof. Ron Rapee, Heidi Lyneham, Carolyn Schniering, Viviana Wuthrish, Maree Abbott, Jennifer Hudson and Ann Wignall

    About author(s)

    Ronald M. Rapee is currently Professor in the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and director of the Centre for Emotional Health. Professor Rapee has established an international reputation for his research into the understanding and management of anxiety and related problems in both children and adults and has published widely in some of the leading scientific journals. He has developed a number of empirically supported treatment programs that are used by researchers and therapists in countries across the world and have been honoured by awards from both scientific and consumer groups.|Heidi J Lyneham is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Macquarie University s Centre for Emotional Health and has a particular interest in childhood anxiety and related difficulties. Her research interests include improving assessment and treatment methods for emotional problems experienced by children, adolescents and their families, and in matching treatment techniques with the needs of individuals. Her PhD examined ways of assessing and treating anxious children who lived in rural and remote parts of Australia through the use of self-help materials and contact with therapists by telephone and email.|Carolyn A Schniering is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University whose research is focused on the development and maintenance of emotional disturbance in children and adolescents. Her main areas of interest include anxiety, depression, and disruptive behaviour problems in young people.|Viviana Wuthrish is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Macquarie University s Centre for Emotional Health whose research interests lie broadly in the understanding and treatment of psychopathology in children, adolescents and adults. To date projects have been focused on schizotypal personality disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.|Jennifer L. Hudson is a Millennium Research Fellow in the Centre for Emotional Health and the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University. Her research focuses on anxiety disorders in children and adolescents and the treatment of internalizing disorders using cognitive behavioural and cognitive behavioural family therapies.|Maree Abbott is currently Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of Sydney.|Ann Wignall is currently Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health for Sydney s lower North Shore.