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Anger Management: Effective Strategies for Your Out of Control Client
On the last track we discussed four reasons to take personal responsibility for anger. These included understanding how to state your needs, understanding that others know their needs, understanding inevitable collision of needs and understanding strategies for satisfaction.
On this track, we will discuss Six Steps to Responsibility. These include reinforcing others, meeting your own needs, finding support elsewhere, setting limits, negotiating assertively and letting go.
Six Steps to Responsibility
Step #1 - Reinforce Others
Roland developed trigger thoughts such as, "She doesn’t care about me!" that relieved him of any blame for his unhappiness with his marriage. Eventually, however, Roland came to realize that no one was to blame, but if he wanted to change the situation, he would have to use new coping strategies. Roland reasoned, "Diana and I both enjoy racquetball. Joining a racquetball club might reinforce her, as well as tempt her away from her computer."
Do you have a client who needs to develop a strategy regarding reinforcing others?
Clearly, Iris needed to be acknowledged. I asked Iris, "Is there anything you can do to lessen or prevent Ingrid’s lateness from bothering you?" Iris said, "I suppose I could offer to drive Ingrid to lunch or only meet her in groups. If that doesn’t work…I could always bring a book." As you can see, Iris was finding ways to take care of her needs, rather than blaming Ingrid.
Step #3 - Find Support Elsewhere
Over the course of several sessions I encouraged T.J. to find alternative sources of support instead of continuing to make requests of someone who was unwilling or unable to give him what he wanted. T.J. decided that he could grow closer to his other friends and divide his time more evenly among them. Do you have a client who could benefit from developing a new source of support?
Step #4 - Set Limits
Obviously, Alicia’s reluctance to set limits for her father resulted in her being used and abused. I asked Alicia, "Can you think of any ways you might set clear boundaries for your dad?" Over the course of several sessions, Alicia responded that she could arrange private visits with her mother while limiting contact with her father.
Step #5 - Negotiate Assertively
I stated to Michelle, age 34, "Since your needs often conflict with the needs of others, it is usually not enough to simply make requests. You may have to offer something in exchange or compromise so both you and the other party feel satisfied." Michelle had described to me, "Sometimes I just feel lonely. Even though Brad’s there I just feel it. Every time I tell him I need more support, he gets angry and accuses me of demanding too much. I tell him he is deliberately withholding support at the very time I need it most. Brad gets more upset and then we start shouting and sometimes we even slap each other."
Michelle used blaming-style attacks because she saw Brad as having all the power to give or withhold what she needed. In the end, Michelle decided to request shared activities that would bring her closer to Brad. If Brad resisted, her fallback suggestion was to schedule something fun for later. Do you have a client who does not know how to negotiate assertively?
Step #6 - Let Go
If Michelle can accept this unchanging aspect of Brad’s personality, it may reduce her overall sense of pain and alienation. The second kind of letting go is recognition of unrewarding or toxic relationships and release them. Where is your anger management client, regarding the concept of "letting go?"
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Technique: Analyze Your Anger
Behavioral Interventions for Anger, Irritability, and Aggression
- Sukhodolsky, D. G., Smith, S. D., McCauley, S. A., Ibrahim, K., and Piasecka, J. B. (2016). Behavioral Interventions for Anger, Irritability, and Aggression in Children and Adolescent. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 26(1). p. 58-64. 10.1089/cap.2015.0120
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