The MAT Life Skills Program approach is informed by a combination of proven therapeutic frameworks such as:


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy -


dentifying the causal relationships between emotions, thoughts and behaviours.


Individual Psychology -

Positive reinforcement, collaborative problem solving, empathy, choices & natural consequences.


Trauma Informed Practice -

Repairing regulatory abilities: sensory integration, sensory processing, executive functioning and sense of agency


Mindfulness Therapy -

Developing awareness, acceptance and action in of events and behaviours.

All the games, drills and exercises practiced in the MAT Program are directly linked with one or more of the theories mentioned above providing the benefits of these therapeutic frameworks in an active and fun modality. An EXAMPLE of this integration can be seen below:

Name of the Activity: Samurai Patrol

Execution: Group activity. Instructor explains what a samurai is and how they used to patrol castles in groups and had to be very attentive to the instructions given to them. Instructor chooses several directions (room sides) and gives them names (i.e. castle, ocean, forest, etc.) and when saying those names students must move towards that direction (fast pace but not running or crashing into each other, it is a team exercise not a race).

link to life skills:

Knowing that it is important to rely on others as well as being able to stand on our own.

Practicing responding to change and making decisions under pressure.

Provides opportunities for students to move from one state –excited (moving fast) to calm and focused (standing still) and to discuss with students about these feelings and where they are experienced in the body.

Research shows that when children/ young people have their bodies and sensory systems engaged through high levels of physical activity that leads to lower level activity they are able to focus for longer periods and therefore able to take in new information

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Link to Evidence Based Theories:

Trauma Theory

Repairing regulatory abilities:

-        Manage and alternate level of arousal according to the demands of the activity (Strydom n.d.).

-        Returning to a comfortable physiological and emotional state following arousal (Wolpow et al. 2009 as cited in Brunzell et al. 2016, p. 66).

Attachment Theory

Establishing positive relational interactions between peers. Strong relational interactions “serve as co-regulatory factors e.g. regulating the stress response systems and healthy neuroendocrine and neurophysiological states” (Brunzell et al. 2016, p.72).


In addition to this, all the activities performed during the program are directly linked to the criteria of the Personal and Social Capabilities Curriculum including:

Self Awareness

  • Recognise emotions

  • Recognise personal qualities and achievements

  • Understand themselves as learners

  • Develop reflective practice

Social Awareness

  • Appreciate diverse perspectives

  • Contribute to civil society

  • Understand relationships

Self Management

  • Express emotions appropriately

  • Develop self-discipline and set goals

  • Work independently and show initiative

  • Become confident, resilience and adaptable

Social Management

  • Communicate effectively

  • Work collaboratively

  • Make decisions under pressure

  • Negotiate and resolve conflict

  • Develop leadership skills

The Top 5 areas where the MAT Program had stronger impact for students in 2018 as requested by schools and agencies:

(a) Helping young people to be able to recognise their emotions

(b) Providing them with strategies to express their emotions appropriately

(c) Supporting them in becoming confident, resilient and adaptable

(d) Developing pathways for effective communication

(e) Showing positive ways in which to negotiate and resolve conflict


Thank to all of you who competed a Feedback Form after our program.  Your comments and inputs are extremely valuable to improve our program for the benefit of young people.  

The summary of our 2018 RESULTS can be see below: 

 From a scale of 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 10 (Strongly Agree) please answer the following statements”

a) The program met the objectives as defined by the school/agency - RESULT: 9

b) The program is effective in engaging (disconnected/at risk) students - RESULT: 9

c) The program has made a positive impact on challenging/concerning behaviour - RESULT: 8

d) The program has made a positive impact on student participation in learning - RESULT: 8

e)The program has made a positive impact on student attendance - RESULT: 7

f) The program is valued by staff as an effective way of teaching Personal & Social Capabilities - RESULT: 9

g) The students applied the skills learned during the program at school or at home - RESULT: 8

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But the the best part is the TESTIMONIALS of the schools and young people who benefit from the program!

Be Strong. Be Kind. Be Calm. Try Hard. Is the mantra of the young people who have been learning in the MAT program.

It’s a jam packed 13 weeks of fun!

12 young people from WSSC have been challenging themselves physically and mentally as they learn through doing with the MAT Program. Everyone surprised themselves with breaking through mind barriers during the sessions.

”In MAT I have learned to relieve my stress by using the techniques for breathing” TS

”I have learned how to stand up and talk in front of a group of people- built my confidence” JF

”I have learned to focus on what I have succeeded in and not what I have failed in. And to be proud of the progress you have gone through to get there”. AE
— Jacqui Boehringer, Wellbeing Groups Coordinator , Wodonga Secondary School
It has helped our students understand emotional regulation and how that ties into real life. They have had the chance to practice this which is usually a difficult exercise to have them engage with.
— Stephen Duke Well-being Coordinator Cire Community School
The Life Skills Program has gotten students started on the social skills that will help them inside and outside of school.
— Elizabeth Tran Heads of House Mount Alexander College
The Life Skills program enables students to reflect on their behaviour and look at positive ways in which they can make changes. It helps students with self-confidence and gives them the encouragement to engage with teachers and persist in getting the help they need.

The belief the program gives them in themselves helps their resilience and challenges any entrenched negative attitudes to education.
— Peter O’Bree Director Student Services Wellington Secondary College
We were really impressed in the program. It had a positive effect on our students in different ways. Some took on the self-regulation skills, others we saw a rise in confidence. But mostly we saw students supporting each other in ways they wouldn’t have in the past.
— Candice Richards Student Wellbeing Assistant Lilydale High
The students thoroughly enjoyed the program. It helped them to recognise their feelings and ways to deal with these. They learnt to control their emotions more positively and how to apply these strategies in everyday situations. We would definitely recommend this program to other schools.
— Angela Angelone Deputy Principal/Wellbeing Leader St Timothy’s School
The program has helped our son control his reaction to situations and persons. He has been able to walk away and use the skills learnt to remain calm rather than react and find himself in trouble. We definitely would recommend the program to other people and schools.
— Parent (November 2017)

For further information, yearly reports and studies made on the MAT Program please visit: www.tessainc.org.au/reports/