What is My Anxiety Plan (MAP)?
My Anxiety Plan (MAP) is an anxiety management program based on cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed through decades of scientific research and has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for anxiety problems. MAP is a resource for parents and caregivers to “coach” anxious children or teens using practical strategies and tools to manage anxiety. MAP includes 6 units with 46 lessons.
- Unit 1: Starting the Journey: Understanding Anxiety. The lessons in this unit highlight key information and facts about anxiety, so that you and your child can become anxiety experts. The lessons will also help you and your child take some initial steps to get ready to tackle anxiety.
- Unit 2: Calming Strategies: Learning to Chill. In Unit 2, lessons focus on helping your child or teen learn relaxation and mindfulness strategies to help them “ride out” the physical sensations of anxiety.
- Unit 3: Helpful Thinking: Talking Back to Anxiety. Learning to be a balanced thinker is a core strategy for coping with anxiety. In this unit, you will help your child or teen learn how to catch, evaluate, and change their anxious thinking.
- Unit 4: Facing Fears: Exposure. Unit 4 outlines one of the most powerful tools for managing anxiety. You will learn how to help your child or teen overcome their fears by gradually facing them one step at a time.
- Unit 5: Continuing the Journey: Staying on Track. Help your child or teen prepare for the future with strategies aimed at maintaining their gains and keeping anxiety in check. Unit 5 highlights the importance of a solid foundation and helping your child or teen develop a plan to prevent anxiety from making a come back.
- Unit 6: Special Topics. Your child or teen may have some specific fears or be faced with situations that are challenging in unique ways that require specialized tools. In this final unit, get additional information and strategies to tackle other problem areas that your child may need help with.
Who is this Program for?
The MAP program was designed as a self-help program for parents or caregivers to support children and teens with mild to moderate anxiety problems. It can also be used by educators to better understand anxiety and learn about key tools for helping students manage anxiety that can also be used in school settings. Although MAP was designed to be used on your own, it can also be used while working with a mental health professional who can guide you through it.
How to Work Through this Program?
We encourage you to review the material on your own first, and once you’re familiar with it, work through it with your child or teen. Make sure to work through the various units and lessons at your own pace. As this is a journey and not a race, you may choose to go through all 6 units, lesson by lesson, over the course of weeks or months. Alternatively, you may prefer to skip around the various units, focusing only on relevant lessons, knowing you can return at a later date and work through the rest. This content can be reviewed and learned via computer screen, and worksheets and forms can be filled out and printed. Finally, you and your child can decide whether you wish to schedule formal “coaching” time on a weekly basis to review the lessons, or whether you prefer to do this work when the timing feels right even if this is at less regular times or intervals. The point is that there is no “right” way to use this material, and while we do recommend proceeding through the units and lessons in the specified order, the goal is to inspire your child to learn and if this means working out of sequence, the MAP program can be used in this way.
When to Seek Professional Help?
Working through this material can be challenging, especially if your child or teen is struggling with more moderate to severe anxiety issues. If your child has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder the information and strategies in the program may not be sufficient. If you’re struggling to get your child to use the strategies or your child or teen’s symptoms persist or worsen despite working through the program, seek professional help. Talk to your family doctor and find a therapist who specializes in CBT.
Now that you know what to expect and whether the MAP program is right for you and your child, it’s time to get started!
*Note: Throughout this program we will use the term parent or caregiver to refer to any adult who is routinely involved in the care of an anxious child or teen. Furthermore, the term child, teen, and youth will be used interchangeably.