1. LEARN TO IDENTIFY ANGER
During the first session, we will talk about how to recognize when you feel angry. Not all people are naturally able to identify the initial stages of anger such as common triggers, habitual thoughts, and physical sensations. You can learn to describe your pattern of anger and what it feels like.
This will help you to manage your behavior earlier and earlier so that the “snowball effect” of out-of-control anger does not occur. We will revisit this over the next several weeks to improve the skill.
2. LEARN IMMEDIATE ANGER MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES.
Once you are aware of your feelings and the signs of anger, you can take action to prevent hurtful outbursts. We will work together to develop a strategy that includes “taking a break”, relaxation, breathing exercises, and other ways of de-escalating yourself.
3. DISCOVER AND RESTRUCTURE IRRATIONAL ANGRY THOUGHTS
Simply learning to stop yourself from escalating is important, but it won’t lead to successful long-term anger management. People who only stop their behavior run the risk of bottling up strong feelings until they explode, so our next step is to explore the ways in which your thinking affects your feelings.
Sometimes when you get angry, the feeling is a signal that something in your life needs to change. When you encounter discrimination or injustice, for example, controlled and appropriately expressed anger can fuel a thought-out and wise response to help change attitudes and circumstances. However, many people with anger problems make incorrect assumptions about themselves, others, and their situations that lead to unnecessary anger. For example, a teenage boy may assume that every time a teacher tries to help him with schoolwork, this means the teacher is telling him that he is “stupid”.
This can lead to feelings of sadness and worthlessness, triggering angry outbursts. Exploring the intentions of others and the meaning that we assign to their actions can help open our eyes to new possibilities and new ways of relating to others.
4. LEARN ABOUT THE WAYS IN WHICH YOU MAY BE INAPPROPRIATELY USING POWER AND CONTROL IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Everyone has needs and wants, and meeting your needs and wants requires interaction with other people. When someone uses anger to intimidate, coerce, or manipulate others, he or she is using power and control in inappropriate ways. You may be aware of this process, or you may be using intimidation unconsciously.
Either way, honestly exploring your use of power and control is necessary in order to move on to the next step, improving relationships.
5. LEARN RESPECTFUL WAYS OF RELATING TO OTHERS BASED ON EQUALITY
Once we discover uses of power and control in relationships, we can work on new ways of meeting your needs, as well as the needs of those you care about. Long-lasting, satisfying relationships are based on respect and equality. This affects all areas of life, including family, friendships, romantic relationships, work relationships, even the way you handle finances.
This stage is both challenging and exciting as you learn ways of treating others that will ultimately lead to a much more successful, fulfilled and joyful life than using anger and intimidation.
6. PRACTICE THE SKILLS YOU HAVE LEARNED
No one can go through this process without making mistakes. And progress is often a “two steps forward, one step back” experience. Connecting with supportive groups, sharing your journey with loved ones, and receiving support and guidance from a professional therapist can help you maintain the progress you have made and get back on track when you slip up. You may wish to continue therapy or set up periodic check-ins after gaining confidence.