The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programme Exploring Feelings was designed by the author to be highly structured, interesting and successful in encouraging the cognitive control of emotions.
Every child participating in the program has a workbook for the six two-hour sessions that includes activities and information to explore the specific feelings of being happy, relaxed, anxious or angry.
There are sections in the workbook to record individual comments and responses to questions. At the end of each session, a project is explained to the child, which is to be completed before the next session.
At the start of the next session the project is discussed with the person implementing the program or the group of participants using the program. A metaphor was created of the child being an astronaut or scientist exploring a new planet, as the author has noted that children with Asperger syndrome are often interested in exploration of the physical world, science and science fiction.
The Exploring Feelings programme is designed to explore the mental world from a scientific perspective. There are two Exploring Feelings programmes, one is designed to explore and manage anxiety, the other to explore and manage anger.
The original programme was designed for small groups of two to five children between the ages of 9 and 12 years, with two adults conducting the programme. However, the Exploring Feelings programme can easily be modified so that it can be used with just one child. The activities can also be modified to be age appropriate for an adolescent or adult.
The programme was designed as a treatment for an anxiety disorder or anger management problem in children with Asperger’s syndrome but the program can be equally applied to children with High Functioning Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS).
The author also designed the programme so that it does not have to be implemented by a qualified psychologist. A teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist or parent could implement the programme without having training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.