Anger Therapy Group
Understanding poorly expressed anger, internal anger, and particularly unexpressed or "stuffed" anger is a critical element in preventing all destructive behaviors, depression, and anxiety. The term "Anger Management" is quite unfortunately misunderstood, and the truth is most people in our anger management group have experienced some type of severe emotional pain or trauma that has contributed to their present-day problems expressing their anger in a way that is useful to them. The goal is not "to never get angry," but rather to learn "how and when to be angry,” so that internal feelings of anger do not manifest in dangerous coping mechanisms like substance abuse, compulsions, depression, and other forms of self-harm,. Participants in this group report and process their weekly experiences with anger, and frustration, as well as learn tools from a specified curriculum of 8 tools to understand and manage their anger response.
Material Covered - Anger Management Tools
Your body's central nervous system provides one of the human organism’s most powerful defenses: the stress response AKA "fight-or-flight". Before your stress response turns into anger, aggression, or depression, work to get it under control. This means learning how to recognize the physical signs of stress in our bodies; practicing effective stress management techniques; making self-care a priority; assessing job and lifestyle habits; taking time off; improving sleep, diet and eating habits; setting limits; saying no and not over committing.
To empathize is to see with the eyes of another, to hear with the ears of another, and to feel with the heart of another. Lack of empathy leads to poor communication and a failure to understand others. You can decrease your anger response by learning to better understand where others are coming from.
Respond Instead of React
We often get angry when people "push our buttons," and we react just like a juke box that automatically plays a certain song when you press a certain button. Rather than reacting to anger triggers in this fashion, you can learn to choose how to deal with frustrating situations — to respond to what someone has just said or done, rather than to react automatically, without thinking, like a jukebox. Most people notice their anger level going down as their feeling of empowerment goes up with increased ability to respond.
When we get upset, we often put ourselves down. We may rage on the outside, while inside we're thinking, "How stupid could I be?" or "If I'm late everyone will think I'm a loser". When we make mistakes we may even tell ourselves that we are useless or worthless. A crucial tool in dealing with angry feelings is that of challenging such self-talk. Our internal conversation has a lot to with how we feel—whether we notice it or not. Learning to first notice, and later on, to change your self-talk empowers you to deal with your anger more effectively, choose how to express it, and let it go much quicker.
Good communication skills are an essential ingredient to anger management because poor communication causes untold emotional hurt, misunderstandings, and conflict. Words are powerful, but the message we convey to others is even more powerful and often determines how people respond to us and how we feel toward them. Anger expressed toward others is often a misguided way of communicating a feeling we have or a need that is not being satisfied by other people or situations. Assertive communication - which is not synonymous with aggressive communication — is a set of skills to honestly and effectively communicate how you feel and how you are responding to things.
Anger is often triggered by a discrepancy between what we expect and what we get. Learning to adjust our expectations — sometimes upward and other times downward — can help us cope with difficult situations or people, or even cope with ourselves. In marriage, research shows that much anger is caused by trying to solve problems which are unsolvable and perpetual. Successful couples learn to live with each other around these issues rather than getting angry about them.
Anger is often the result of grievances we hold toward other people or situations, usually because of our perception and feeling of having been wronged by them in some way. Resentment is a form of anger that does more damage to the holder than the offender. Holding a grudge is letting the offender live rent free in your head. Making the decision to "let go" (while still protecting ourselves) is often a process of forgiveness – or at least acceptance – and is a major step toward anger control.
Retreat and Think Things Over
Jim and Mary Jones loved each other deeply, but often went into horrific verbal battles over any number of issues. However, they were unable to give each other "space" during an argument insisting they solve the issue immediately. Even worse, Mary often physically blocked Jim from leaving and would follow him from room to room demanding discussion. Needless to say, this is a dangerous practice as it can escalate levels of anger even further and cause partners to do and say things they don't really mean and may later regret! Research shows that we are pretty much incapable of resolving conflicts or thinking rationally in an argument when our stress level reaches a certain point. To avoid losing control either physically or verbally, it is often best to take a temporary "time-out" - and leave. This tool of anger management works much better if (a) you commit to return within a reasonable amount of time to work things out, and (2) you work on your "self-talk" while trying to cool down.