The RELAX Intervention

RELAX is an 8 week, 90 minute group-based intervention for adolescents and their families, that seeks to equip adolescents with coping, communication, and conflict management skills. Additionally, it provides parents with tools to help support their adolescents' use of these skills in daily life. 

RELAX was piloted with 18 families in Spring 2019 and was found to result in large improvements in adolescent emotion regulation (i.e., managing negative emotions like anger, sadness, frustration) and communication, and reductions in family conflict. Additionally, parents made large improvements in their ability to support their adolescents during conflict discussions and in their own emotion dysregulation. Results from this pilot study are published in Breaux & Langberg, 2020 in Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 

A telehealth version of RELAX was piloted with 20 families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendance was higher for telehealth than in person  RELAX groups (95% vs. 87%),  but  homework  completion was higher for in-person (85% vs. 70%).  Caregiver and adolescent feedback indicated very high rates of satisfaction with RELAX, with no significant differences in caregiver satisfaction and minimal differences in adolescent satisfaction between the in-person and telehealth groups.  Similarly, treatment outcomes were similar for in-person and telehealth groups, with some evidence for larger  improvement of adolescent ED for telehealth, whereas larger improvement in family conflict emerged for in-person groups. These results suggest that both the in person and telehealth RELAX intervention are feasible, acceptable, and effective treatment options for families of adolescents with ADHD!

Coping

Skills

Adolescents and their parents will learn effective coping skills to help manage negative emotions like frustration, sadness, anger, and worry.  Additionally, parents will learn how to respond  to their adolescents' negative emotions in a way that will foster better emotion regulation development. 

Communication Skills

Adolescents will learn how to be an effective listener, who they can share their emotions with and when, how to communicate in an assertive but not aggressive manner, and the social problem-solving skills necessary for successful communication with peers, parents, and teachers.

 

Conflict Management Skills

RELAX will discuss why conflicts are so common during adolescence, the different ways to respond during conflict, and when different response patterns are helpful versus harmful.  Adolescents and parents will have the opportunity to problem-solve through current conflicts in the adolescents' lives.

The RELAX Coping Program

The RELAX Intervention has also been modified to work as a RELAX Coping Program using a self-paced, interactive website! This website can be accessed here -  https://relaxcopingprogram.com/. The RELAX Coping Program consists of 5 online learning activities that seek to help you better deal with big emotions like anger, sadness, and worry; communicate better; manage conflicts with others better; and be assertive but not aggressive in trying to solve issues.  Adolescents can earn different badges and certificates for their participation and good answers throughout these modules.

We are recruiting for a research study (IRB # 21-022) that seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the RELAX (Regulating Emotions Like An eXpert) Coping Program for MCPS middle school students. Your family can up to $30 for completing the online surveys as part of this study. Click on the Research Tab above for more information or contact the Virginia Tech Child Study Center at childstudycenter@gmail.com or 540-231-8276.