MA Counselling Psychology thesis defence

Academic Events
Trinity Western University
Lynn Szabo Meeting Room, Upper RNT
7600 Glover Road
Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1

MA Counselling Psychology thesis defence: "Educators’ Perspectives of Youth-Led Implementation of the Friends for Life Program: A Critical Incident Study”

By: Nathan Bartz

Co-Supervisor:  Dr. Robert Lees

Co-Supervisor: Dr. Marvin McDonald

External Examiner: Annette Vogt, M.A., Assistant Professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of the Fraser Valley

Exam Chair: TBA


This study examined the viability of a newly piloted implementation model of the FRIENDS for Life anxiety prevention program. The FRIENDS program is the only empirically validated universal anxiety prevention program recognized by the WHO, and continues to build research support for efficacy in reducing anxiety symptoms.

In Chilliwack, British Columbia, a collaborative community initiative piloted an implementation model of the FRIENDS for Life program, which involved the inclusion of high school students as chief implementers of the FRIENDS program to local elementary school populations. In conjunction with staff at the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Chilliwack, this study utilized the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique to explore the professional observations and insights from educators involved in this new implementation.  The purpose of the study was to answer the question of what helps and hinders the implementation of FRIENDS when high school students are the implementers.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five educators who were asked about their experiences with the FRIENDS program, what helpful and hindering incidents they observed, and to provide a wish list for future improvements. A total of 128 incidents were extracted, 51 of which were helping, 38 hindering, and 39 wish list items. From these incidents, 9 helping, 11 hindering, and 9 wish list categories were formulated with participation rates ranging from 20% to 100%.

Results strongly suggest that a youth-led FRIENDS implementation model is a viable model of program delivery and worth consideration for future development and refinement. The educators reported that high school students are highly capable of forming important emotional bonds with the elementary school students, and together with supportive mentors, contribute to a pro social and viable model of FRIENDS program implementation.  The educators also provided a list of recommendations for improving the viability of the youth- led model of implementation. This study’s findings offer a promising outlook on a youth-led implementation model of the FRIENDS for Life program with possibilities of fostering pro social outcomes in elementary and high school youth, and also increased community benefit from community collaboration and partnership.