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Anger Management Programs

Harry Mills, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 8th 2016

Depending on your needs, you may choose to work with a counselor or group to get control of your anger, or you may be able to do the work on your own using one of the self-study resources available.

support groupA word of caution is important here. Research shows again and again that it is hard to change habitual behavior, and that it is easier to make and sustain real changes in behavior when you have a good support group. For this reason, if you are really serious about changing the way you handle anger, you are likely to be better off participating in a formal anger management program than taking the self study approach. A formal program provides structure to guide your change process, helps motivate you to continue to work when you might otherwise want to quit, and helps you recognize and be proud of the progress you make.

The following is a brief overview of the types of anger management programs and resources available.

Individual and Group Therapy for Anger Management

For some people, the easiest way to change the way they handle anger is to work with a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional in an individual or group therapy setting. A therapist, who can observe and analyze your behavior from an impartial perspective, can help you with your reality testing. If you participate in an anger management group, the other group members can help you do this too. An anger management therapist will also be expert in all manner of effective anger management strategies, and will be able to help you develop a personalized set of strategies for changing both your thinking and behavior that will work best for you.

If you go the therapy route, make sure that you select the right kind of therapist. There are multiple schools of therapy out there. Therapists who subscribe to dynamic, psychodynamic, humanistic, or psychospiritual schools of thought may lead clients to get better in touch with their feelings. While this approach is helpful for some emotionally over-controlled people, it is not helpful for people whose main difficulty revolves around not being able to control their emotions (e.g., angry clients). Instead of exploring your feelings, you want to be learning to control them. A cognitive-behavioral therapist will generally be in the best position to help you do this.

There are a few other qualities you'll want to select for in a therapist. Any therapist you select should be licensed by their state. Additionally, they will ideally have been trained in anger management techniques and therapies and/or have specialized their practice for anger management problems.

A typical course of therapy for anger management is more like a class than a traditional therapy session. Participants are helped to become conscious of their emotional, cognitive and physical responses to anger and the different ways they respond to conflict. Depending on your needs, your therapist may work with you on breathing or meditation exercises to reduce anger arousal, safe and appropriate emotional and physical techniques to release anger, communication skills, or 'cognitive restructuring' (a method for disputing and changing the thoughts that shape your emotions).

Therapy can take several months to have an effect. On average progress may be visible after 8 or 10 sessions. How much progress you make will in part be determined by how dedicated you are to the process: how regularly you attend, how much you take the lessons to heart, and how often you practice your homework.

Anger Management Classes

Anger management classes may be available through your employer, or through a variety of organizations serving your community. Anger management classes vary in length and quality. While some stretch across multiple weeks and begin to follow the therapy approach described above, others span a single weekend only. It is better to select a longer class than a shorter one if you have a choice, as longer classes will provide you with more sustained support for your change process. Regardless of their length, anger management classes will often assign you homework projects to complete, and will use quizzes to track your progress through the course.

Think carefully about your specific needs when choosing to participate in an anger management class. Do you need help dealing with your anger in general, or would you benefit more from a class geared toward couples? If most of your issues occur in the workplace, would a seminar about anger management in the workplace be more helpful? Perhaps you have been asked by your employer or mandated by the courts to attend classes. In either of these cases, you will need to make sure you select an approved class that will keep track your progress and provide you with formal proof of your participation and completion.

Self-Study

You can learn to deal with your anger issues on your own in a number of different ways. Video and audio recordings and online classes allow you to complete programs in your spare time and work at your own speed. Some of these programs offer email or phone support, and online message boards or chat groups.

If you are looking for a more specialized approach to anger management, such as strategies specifically tailored for women or for corporate executives, your local library or book store might be your best resource. There are a great number of books available today that address anger and anger management from a variety of perspectives. Several of these books are listed at the end of this article. Perhaps the best way to learn about and understand your problems with anger may be to do some more research.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

i need help - - Mar 17th 2013

is there a place or hospital or just a nice rehab place i can go to and receive help. I am too hard on my kids and I need help because now they are scared of me. if any one has contact info or a doctor please let me know thanks

un sure - kb - Aug 19th 2011

i let anger overwhelm me and end up raising my voice and it causing serious problems with my marrige

my serious anger pro - kayla - Jul 27th 2011

my anger is very very very bad . i gets very mad when i dont get my way . im always having sucidal thoughts to the point its bad . i gets very anger to the point where i start throwing things and be wanting to cut myself and all . WHAT SHOULD I DO TO CONTROL THIS ?????? PLEASE HELP ME !!!!!!!!!

Family Affair - - Sep 4th 2010

My sister has a problem with her anger. She gets back home regardless from work or from an outing and she will immediately blow her tops on minute things. In public or with her friends, she will be little miss goody. At home, she is Cruella De Vill. She loves to show authority in public by scolding and humiliate me, my sister or anyone close. How do i help her without getting scold or humiliated by her?

i get made when i don't get my way - - Aug 29th 2010

i really have a problem about feeling that everyone is against me and picking on me and i get made and cry then get made because i cry.

i think its something else - - Apr 26th 2010

my doctor diagnosed me as having bipolar but i think its something else. im having anger, frustration, bored easily, easily distracted, ect. could someone please explain to me what i have?

when i drink - diamond - Mar 7th 2010

when i drink and people are arguing im right in somebodies face.....sometimes i"ve knocked somebodie in there face....eye hold my anger in and i kno its not good b ecause at times i can just snap.....anger caused me to break something or im hittin sombody.......and my anger scares mii.......

Man Full Of Anger - kelvin santiago - Nov 2nd 2009

hey im 19 years old and since those years i been holding in alot of anger i tried to keep my anger away from the people i love..sometimes i get carried away & really yell give attitudes to my mom or girlfriend and i dont want to be like this any more

Stressed - Melissa - Aug 1st 2009

I am a mom of 2 boys ages 2 and 3.  They are a great source of stress for me.  I worry because I find myself constantly yelling at them and have felt great remorse after saying things that probably shouldnt have been said.  I went to my Dr and she blamed it on anxiety, but I think I have an anger problem.  When I get angry it is a rush that makes me feel hot and I get a surging headache after I "come down"  that sometimes lasts for days.  I don't know where to turn to.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

M.S.

Responding to Kathy P - DeeDee - Jun 12th 2009

Hi Kathy,

I also have a young child and struggle with not wanting to pass on certain negative qualities that I  have onto my son. If you need to talk I am here you can email me at serene1@ca.rr.com 

Take Care help is out there for you..DeeDee 

Never allowed to express anger when I was younger - EJ - Apr 30th 2009

Growing up in a family who did not allow anger to be expressed, I have recently been diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder. I have been hospitalized for 2 suicide attempts because of depression, and although my family is aware, they refuse to discuss these things with me. I am forced to live with them right now because I escaped from an abusive relationship. I am back in college almost finished with my classes, and I have really started to feel a lot of anger and resentment toward my own family. I know that getting away from them after I graduate college is one way to get away, but will the anger fade when I am out of this living situation? Should I just let my elderly parents be? I tried to open up dialogue with them about my depression, and I was told "don't start any drama in this house or else you'll give you mom a heart attack!"  What a guilt trip that was to me. Just venting here.

Good tools that you are using- Is it posible to have access? - Caleb Wakhungu - Apr 13th 2009

Dear Friends!I read about your work with a lot of interest expecially brief information about your tools to reduce Anger and stress. It is posible for our organisation to have access to that? Thank you. Caleb- Team Leader- Mt. Elgon Self-Help Community Project www.elgonproject.org

For Kathy in Georgetown, TX - Hoping to make a Change - Mar 5th 2009

Contact Hope Alliance #512-255-1212. They are the abuse services for Williamson County

I need a friend. - Kathy P. - Feb 12th 2009
It's late at night, my 4-year-old will awake in a few hours, and I'm just trying to find some support somewhere in my corner of the world (Georgetown, Texas) to help me through another day.  So many people seem so sad and depressed these days.  It's hard to find comfort in such a cold and hostile world.  I've been fighting my own personal demons lately, and I feel like I've been losing that battle.  All I've ever cared about was that I NOT pass those demons on to my son; yet, the more I worry and the harder I fight, the more inevitable it seems that the dysfunction will carry on.  I need another parent to talk to and/or meet with.  I need help.

I am angry - Norm - Jan 16th 2009

Help me for I am angry.

Online Anger Management Classes - Ari Novick, Ph.D. - Mar 19th 2008
I just wanted to add that in addition to self study programs for anger management, I also recommend taking an online anger management class.  While I can not speak for every online anger management program on the Internet; I can say that our program available at www.angerclassonline.com is one of the finest distance learning online anger management classes available.  It is an ideal resource for those needing or wanting to take an anger management class but have difficulting either finding a class near their home or office, or simply do not have the time to miss work or family obligations.

Again, our distance learning resources can be found at www.angerclassonline.com or www.ajnovickgroup.com

Anger is not a pathological condition - George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF - Dec 15th 2007

While it is best for anger management providers to be trained in mental health, anger management is not counseling nor psychotherapy. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anger is a lifestyle issue and not a mental or nervous disorder.

All anger management facilitators should be trained in an intervention model which includes an assessment component, client workbooks as well as a pre and post test to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.

www.andersonservices.com

Editor's Note: Not sure I agree with your dismissal of anger as a clinically relevant problem.  True, anger is a normal and basic human emotion, and as such is not a clinically relevant condition under most situations.  However, when chronic anger interferes with a person's ability to develop or hold on to important relationships or occupational opportunities or contributes to interpersonal abuse, then a clinically relevant condition exists, and anger can be said to be pathological in quality.  I suspect that what you're doing here is relabeling the situation so as to make it less threatening to potential patients/clients, who would rather be seen for a lifestyle problem than for a clinical one.  A rose by any other name still smells as sweet.  

 

Anger Management - Ari Novick, Ph.D. - Aug 20th 2007

Anger management should not be confused with psychotherapy. Anger management is educational in nature and should teach skills in areas such as stress management, assertive communication, improving judgment and impulse control, empathy, forgiveness, taking time-outs, and improving self-talk. While therapists can perform anger management, all anger management providers should get certified by a reputable provider and have at least 40 hours of training.

Information on professional anger management training can be found at www.centuryangermanagement.com.

Ari Novick, Ph.D.
AJ Novick Group- Anger Management
www.ajnovickgroup.com

 

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