Westmead Feelings Program

The Westmead Feelings Program (WFP) teaches social and emotional skills to children with and without autism spectrum disorder.

  • Tier:
    • Tier 1: Positive Mental Health Promotion
    • Tier 2: Early Intervention and Cohort Specific Support
  • Type of intervention:
    • Social and emotional learning
    • Support for diverse cohorts
  • Strength of evidence: Level 4: Established evidence for program (supported by quality research evidence)
  • Geographic location: State-wide

Program description

The Westmead Feelings Program (WFP) is a clinical program designed to teach social and emotional skills to children with and without autism spectrum disorder.

There are 2 versions of the program:

  • WFP 1 is designed for children with autism spectrum disorder and mild intellectual disability
  • WFP 2 is designed for children who have fluent speech and are able to read and write.

Both programs are divided into 3 modules and one booster session at the end that teach skills in understanding own and others' emotions, emotional problem solving and emotion regulation skills.

A parent and teacher program runs alongside the child program, with a training session at the beginning and end of each module to support children as they learn these skills themselves.

The WFP Facilitator Certification Course is an online program designed to train professionals to implement the 15-month WFP 1 or 2 intervention programs in school, private practice, and hospital settings.

Intended outcomes

  • Improved emotional competence, both at home and at school
  • Skills in understanding and communicating emotions and emotion regulation
  • Improved mental health, social skills, resilience and peer relationships
  • Improved psychosocial wellbeing in parents

Program details

Target audience
  • Primary school students - lower
  • Primary school students - upper
  • Secondary school students - lower
  • Capacity building for primary school staff
  • Capacity building for secondary school staff
Program providerThe Australian Council for Educational Research
Delivery mode
  • Face-to-face
  • Online

*The program is delivered in person and the program facilitator certification course online.

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: Lower primary to lower secondary school students, their teachers, allied health professionals and parents of autistic students.
  • Program adaptability: A 'Child Strengths and Interests Questionnaire' is included in resources for a teacher or parent to complete. The results can provide facilitators with background information about a child, allowing slight adaptation of the program per child. The Facilitator's Manual also gives guidance on adapting activities and sessions based on the specific needs of the children involved.
  • Staffing: WFP does not need backfilling as it ideally runs during school hours/class. The WFP online Facilitator Certification course also does not require backfilling as it is online and self-paced.
  • Training requirements: WFP is divided into 3 modules and one booster session. Each module comprises 5 child sessions, 2 parent sessions, and 2 teacher sessions. Each session of the child program runs for between 60 and 90 minutes. WFP runs over a total of 15 months, 3 school terms, with one module per term plus one booster session at the end. Each module is designed to run for 5 consecutive weeks. Booster sessions are offered approximately 6 months after the end of Module 3. The online WFP Facilitator Certification course involves 20 hours of online coursework over approximately 10 weeks. Participants require a WFP Resource Kit, laptop and internet connection. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in Education are required to complete the online WFP Facilitator Certification course.
  • Factors to consider: The WFP requires one qualified facilitator, the students, their classroom teachers, and parents. Each WFP group should be between 3 to 7 students, however can also be rolled out within entire classrooms in normal school settings. The online WFP Facilitator Certification course has no limitations on how many staff enrol in the course. There are currently more than 500 accredited WFP facilitators in Australia alone, who can support schools if required.
  • Australian context: The program has been developed and applied in Australia.

Cost

Item cost

$201-$2000

Detailed cost

The cost of WFP 1 and 2 each include:

  • resource kit: $900 (inc. GST)
  • facilitator certification course: $900 (inc. GST)
  • teacher materials: $39.95 (inc. GST)
  • parent materials: $39.95 (inc. GST)
  • child materials: $54.95 (inc. GST).

Each Resource Kit ($900 incl GST) includes one set of teacher, parent, child, and facilitator kit.

Extra child, parent, and teacher materials are purchasable for each participant.

Children who have a Mental Health Care Plan or Chronic Disease Management Plan can use this funding for WFP sessions run by registered Medicare providers (e.g. psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists).

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