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Separation Counseling: Brief Interventions for Divorcing Couples
10 CEUs Separation Counseling: Brief Interventions for Divorcing Couples

Section 4
Interventions for Divorce Hostility

Question 4 | Test | Table of Contents | Couples CEU Courses
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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In the last section, we discussed being straight with the kids.  This included five considerations for divorced or separated parents.  These are telling them what’s happening, reassure children with certainty, lifting blame, influencing a child’s development, and avoiding bad mouthing.

In this section, we will discuss anger.  Four basic anger management techniques we will discuss regarding the divorced or separated client will be taking time out, finding harmless ways to release anger, talk your feelings out, and talking to the anger target without blaming or name calling.  As you listen to this section, consider your client.  Is he or she dealing with anger following a divorce or separation?  Could your client benefit from hearing how Gail implemented these four anger management techniques?

After her divorce, Gail expected to feel sad. Gail, age 42, had decided to divorce her husband after his gambling problem became too much for her to handle. Gail stated, "After the numbness started to wear off, I expected to feel sad. I’m surprised at how angry I feel instead." I asked Gail what exactly she was angry about. Gail stated, "I’m mad that my ex betrayed me. I’m angry at the world for letting this loss happen. I’m furious with myself for not doing enough to stop it." 

Think of your Gail. Is he or she spending time going over events trying to discover what he or she might have done differently to make things turn out differently?

I find that having a short temper is one sign that clients are in the anger stage of the grieving process.  Do things that would normally irritate your client only a little get them really mad?  What techniques do you provide clients who are in the anger stage of the grieving process?  I find that following a divorce or separation, clients like Gail can benefit from some basic anger management techniques.

4 Anger Management Techniques

♦ Technique #1  - Take Time Out

First, let’s discuss taking time out.This classic anger management technique allows the client time to calm down before anger manifests in a destructive way. I stated to Gail, "When you get upset, especially at someone specific, remove yourself from the situation or the person you are angry at by walking away and doing something else. You might consider telling the person you are willing to talk later when you calm down."

♦ Technique #2 - Find Harmless Ways to Release Anger

Next, let’s discuss finding harmless ways to release anger.Gail stated, "Sometimes I get so mad that I say and do things I later regret."  How might you have responded to Gail?  I stated, "If you think you might say or do something you’ll later regret, write your feelings down in a journal or write a letter to the person you’re angry with. Then tear the letter up. You might find that helps." 

♦ Technique #3 - Talk Your Feelings Out

In addition to taking time out and finding harmless ways to release anger, a third technique is to talk your feelings out.Gail asked, "But does just talking really help?"  How might you have responded to Gail?  I stated, "It does.  By talking to a friend about the way you feel, you allow yourself to work past the anger toward solutions for what is upsetting you. Think about your Gail.  How can talking your client’s feelings out help him or her?

♦ Technique #4 - Talk to Your Anger Target Without Blaming or Name Calling

Finally, let’s discuss talking to the anger target without blaming or name calling.  This seems obvious, but to clients like Gail talking without blaming or name calling may not be something the client has considered. 

Gail stated, "I get so mad I just go off.  Every little thing makes me angry, so I want people to know why I’m angry. If someone gets blamed in the process, it’s not my fault."  When Gail felt ready to talk about her anger, especially to her ex-husband, I suggested that she do so without blaming or name calling. Gail asked how one talked about anger without blaming.  I stated, "Instead, take responsibility for your anger.  Consider saying , ‘I feel angry about this,’ not, ‘You make me angry when…’"

What are some effective anger management techniques you provide clients?  Could these be productive in a setting regarding divorce or separation?

In this section, we discussed anger.  Four basic anger management techniques we discussed regarding the divorced or separated client were taking time out, finding harmless ways to release anger, talk your feelings out, and talking to the anger target without blaming or name calling.

In the next section, we will discuss regaining self worth.  I find it productive to put self worth into different perspectives using four methods.  These four methods for regaining self worth are eliminating the idea, unrestricting the idea, acknowledging personal worth, and the compassionate perspective. 

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Øverup, C. S., Ciprić, A., Gad Kjeld, S., Strizzi, J. M., Sander, S., Lange, T., & Hald, G. M. (2020). Cooperation after divorce: A randomized controlled trial of an online divorce intervention on hostility. Psychology of Violence. Advance online publication. 

Markman, H. J., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Peterson, K. M. (2013). A randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of premarital intervention: Moderators of divorce outcomes. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(1), 165–172.

Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for divorce and recollections of premarital intervention: Implications for improving relationship education. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2(2), 131–145.

van Scheppingen, M. A., & Leopold, T. (2020). Trajectories of life satisfaction before, upon, and after divorce: Evidence from a new matching approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119(6), 1444–1458.

Weiss, B., Lavner, J. A., & Miller, J. D. (2018). Self- and partner-reported psychopathic traits’ relations with couples’ communication, marital satisfaction trajectories, and divorce in a longitudinal sample. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 9(3), 239–249.

Question 4:  What are four basic anger management techniques which can be implemented regarding a divorced or separated client? To select and enter your answer, go to the Test.

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