While it may b e logical to see stress as the cause of much anger, it is not the only cause. Reducing stress may not eliminate anger responses, and for that matter, stress itself can only be reduced and not eliminated. Stress is simply a part of life, and many stress reduction techniques recognize this fact and train people in how to cope with stress more than to eliminate it. Reducing stress is still a good beginning, but leaning to turn stress into a positive is a more valuable lesson.
Similarly, anger cannot be eliminated but can be turned to more positive consequences, and Anger Management Therapy attempts to achieve this by training the individual in how to handle anger and its causes both. To a degree, such training is similar to bio-feedback in that the individual becomes more aware of processes both physical and psychological as they are related to stressors and to the development of reactions such as anger. Such training also involves helping the individual to gain power over his or her own actions rapidly, teaching the individual to assess the situation quickly and to implement necessary means to control the response, to decide how to channel it, and then to act accordingly. The process is not treatment in the usual sense because it does not simply fix a problem. Instead, it teaches the individual how to handle a problem that will recur just as stress in.life will always recur. Recognizing that some things are worth getting angry about and some are not is only a beginning, for even when anger is justified, it needs to be controlled and channeled toward positive ends.
Anger Management trains the individual to achieve alone what may only be achieved in the beginning in a group setting, with a coach offering assistance and advice. The goal is for the individual to be able to manage his or her anger without such assistance and to do so before that anger leads to personal problems, bad behavior, violence, or self-destructive behavior.
The objectives for this training is to reduce expressions of anger on the part of participants, to instruct them in how to cope with causes of anger, to show them how to assess and monitor their own reactions to various stressors and anger-inducers, to substitute positive behaviors for expressions of anger, and so to reduce anger-associated behaviors, from conflict with others to self-destructive behavior brought about by those who are acting out their anger. In the training, the objective is first to suggest to the participants how much damage their anger is doing to themselves and others and to use the group setting to get all student to participate in the process. The coach is used to train the students and guide the sessions, and the progression of the sessions is from showing these students the nature of the problem and how it manifests itself in their lives to assessing how well they are able to use what they have learned in their daily lives, without the need of the group or the coach in the future. The objective is to take the student from needing assistance to a state of autonomy in which he or she can control and manager their own anger at the time they are provoked.
Groups usually consists of five to eight persons at a time. A larger group might be less manageable and would not provide the one-on-one coaching that is usually needed. A smaller group would not provide the diversity of experience and of willingness to participate and learn that serves the needs of the group and of each individual member at the same time. In addition, time is usually a factor. Sufficient time is needed to train the students, but those students themselves usually do not have unlimited time and so need to be brought along as rapidly as possible without being shortchanged by the process. The eight weeks allotted for the program described below is sufficient to give the students the tools they need and to help them learn to use those tools without being so long that they get stale. Also, eight weeks fits into the time frame of the normal semester or quarter a group can be kept together.
As noted, the procedure is to use a group setting to instruct and guide the students in the nature of Anger Management and in how they can make use of it to their advantage. The process also enlists the aid of each participant in helping and guiding one another, showing that they are not alone in this problem and using the success of one as a means of helping others succeed as well.
Week 1: Introduction:
The purpose of the group, group rules and meeting times will be discussed. Students will describe themselves, their goals, and challenges. Demonstrate the use of a mood diary.
Icebreaker: Working in pairs, the group will spend 5 minutes listening to each other's response to the sample questions. Then, each pair will go around the circle and introduce each other to the group.
Group Discussion: Members will be asked if the have additional interview questions they would like to add to the list. A volunteer will add the additional ideas to the chart. Students will be asked to identify similarities found in the group members including: personal strengths, reasons for joining the group, and expectations of the group.
Notebooks will be handed out and the facilitator will present a sample of the mood diary.
Week 2: What is Anger Management
Brief Lecture: The facilitator will discuss how relationships can get into trouble when people do not know how to deal with disagreements and then let their anger get out of control. Examples will be given from the news or from personal experience. This lecture will lead to a group discussion.
Group Discussion: Anger will be defined and questions about controlling anger, expressing anger, or how to handle someone else's anger will be discussed. Anger Management Training will be defined. An anger continuum will be explained with "withdraw" at one extreme and "attack" at the other extreme, Consequences for extreme reactions on the anger continuum will be shared. The benefits of Anger management training will be discussed e.g. Identifying your personal anger sequence and learning ways to express anger that will save "face" for both parties.
Pretest: The facilitator will administer the Pretest give directions and explain the purpose. Recommended pretests include the Symptoms of Stress Inventory (SOS) or the Profile of Mood States (POMS).
Summary: Major themes will be summarized and homework will be issued which should include anger generating situations for self or others. Group members should attempt to identify the sequence of events and record in mood diary.
Week 3: Getting to Know Your Anger Sequence
Review: Use the Uncontrolled Anger Sequence hand-out to briefly summarize the prior session's activities and insights. Give an example of an anger sequence and break it down step-by-step.
Dyad Work Activity: Have students share their experiences in pairs. Instruct students to understand and clarify the person's anger sequence and note any similar triggers.
Group Discussion: Ask students to identify their triggers and record the list on the board or flip chart. Ask students how they respond when the get angry. Use the Withdrawal-Attack scale hand-out and have students identify where on the anger continuum their reactions to the triggers fall for each one they listed. Have students also consider how they react when someone get angry with them. Using the board, give an example of a trigger and a rated response. Go around the circle to collect numbers from group members and display on the board. Point out similarities.
Summary: Summarize major themes and ask students a homework question: "When dealing with your anger and another person's anger, is there a way to save face that would be less harmful to yourself and the other person?"
Week 4: Taking Control of Your Anger Responses
Review: Use the Summary-Insights hand-out to summarize sessions 1 and 2. Engage group in brief self-disclosures of person experience with these insights. Point out areas of progress specifically with awareness.
Group Discussion: Using the Some Faces of Harmful Anger Expressions, point out consequences to ourselves and others that result from uncontrolled anger reactions. Ask the group to give examples of each type.
Guided Imagery Activity: Have the group members close their eyes and imagine a situation where they were extremely angry. Have them pretend they are running a movie of the event and to picture everything that was going on at that time. Pausing between each question, ask the students: What set you off? What triggered your anger? Why do you think you got angry? What where you thinking at the time?…