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Anger Control Training Program
by Emma Williams and Rebecca Barlow

This three-volume training program addresses the need for a practical and easily accessible guide for professionals working with people with anger control problems.

Full Description:   

This Anger Control Training (ACT) Program has arisen from an increasing recognition of the need for anger control management training. The authors have extensive experience working with clients requiring treatment for their anger and aggressive behavior, and have consequently developed this comprehensive training program to help people change their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In recognition of the need for a practical step-by-step guide for anger control training, the ACT program aims to be easily accessible, clear, concise and jargon-free.

ACT is based within a social learning, cognitive-behavioral, theoretical framework, developed and refined over the years. The authors have found that a cognitive-behavioral approach is the most effective method of helping clients change. Clients need to be aware of the way in which their thoughts, feelings and behaviors are related, and to be equipped with the practical skills to enable them to modify their responses. There are three main tenets of this approach:

    Awareness:Clients need to be able to recognize their specific thought, feelings and behaviors which can exacerbate feelings of anger and lead to aggressive behavior.

    Coping Strategies: Once the client has developed an awareness of the above factors, they can acquire and use coping strategies to prevent or reduce their aggessive behavior. Coping strategies include challenging thoughts, reducing psychological arousal and modifying behaviour.

    Lifestyle: Once coping strategies are internalized, new, more adaptive forms of behavior emerge. General lifestyle changes develop, resulting in an ability to think and therefore act more positively

This program consists of 12 core sessions, average length of session 2 to 3 hours, each consisting of (1) Session Contents: Specific focus, together with a brief outline of content and approximate duration for each section; the sessions last two hours in total: (2) Aims and Objects; the specific aims and objectives for each session are identified for facilitators; this clarifies what the session hopes to achieve and the means of achieving it; (3) Session Guidelines: these are designed to help facilitators run the sessions effectively; they follow the format of the contents page, giving detail of the exercises and explanatory notes; and suggestions when to present specific worksheets to client and how to use them; and (4) Handouts/Worksheets: all sessions have a number of handouts/worksheets for clients and facilitators.

Engaging a client in a therapeutic relationship is most effective if it is client-centered. Sensitivity, understanding and a non-judgemental attitude are helpful in facilitating change. This program will give you the tools necessary for that change.

Part 1: Theories of Anger & Aggression; Part 2: Initiation, Assessment & Evaluation of an ACT Program; Part 3: The Anger Control Training Guide; Part 4: Techniques & Supplementary Programs;53 Reproducable Worksheets


    Volume One: Part 1: Therories of Anger & Aggression
    Instinct Theories
    Motivational/Drive Theory
    Social Learning Theories
    Cognitive-Behavioral Theories
    Relapse Prevention
    Part 2: Initiation, Assessment & Evaluation of an ACT Program
    Client Selection
    Planning the Group
    Client Selection Interview
    The Assessment and Evaluation of Clients with Anger Control Problems

    Volume Two: Part 3: The Anger Control Training Guide
    Session 1: Introduction of ACT
    Session 2: Consequences of anger & aggressive behavior
    Session 3: The function of anger
    Session 4: Beliefs
    Session 5: Causes of anger & aggression
    Session 6: Cognitions: the importance of thoughts in anger control
    Session 7: Cognitions: common types of thinking error
    Session 8: The physiological response
    Session 9: High-risk situations
    Session 10: Lifestyle
    Session 11: Relapse prevention plan
    Session 12: Course review and future directions

    Volume Three: Part 4: Techniques & Supplementary Programs
    Index of Facilitators Guides
    Index of Assessments
    Index of Handouts and Worksheets
    Role-play techniques
    Progressive muscular relaxation therapy
    Guided fantasy; the beach
    Supplementary Programs
    Assertiveness module
    Enhancing self-esteem module
    Coping with stress module

Index of Facilitator's Guide
Index of Assessments
Index of Handouts and Worksheets

    Index of Facilitator's Guides
    Client Suitability Checklist
    Semi-Structured Interview
    Group Contract: Specimen
    Decision Matrix for Stopping Aggressive behavior
    Thinking Errors Scenario: error identification
    Role-play Scenarios: Example 1
    Role-play Scenarios: Example 2
    Index of Assessments
    Assessment 1: Personal Anger Diary
    Assessment 2: Hassle Log: Conflict Situations
    Assessment 3: Risk Situation Questionnaire
    Assessment 4: The Aggression Questionnaire
    Assessment 5: Situations-Reactions Hostility Inventory
    Index of Handouts and Worksheets
    Personal Aims Exercise
    Ten Principles of Anger Control
    Personal Anger Diary
    ACT: Evaluation Feedback
    Decision Matrix for Stopping Aggressive Behavior
    General Function of Anger Model
    Personal Anger Function Chart: Specimen
    Personal Anger Function Chart
    The Cycle of Anger
    Changing Your Cycles of Anger
    Ten Key Irrational Beliefs
    Irrational Beliefs Exercise
    Challenging Beliefs
    Causes of Aggression
    Triggers to Aggression
    The Cycle of Anger
    The Relationship Between Thoughts and Beliefs
    The Relationship between thoughts and beliefs: Example
    Cognitive Coping Strategies
    Personal Thoughts and Beliefs Cycle
    Personal Cognitive Coping Strategies
    Distorted Thinking
    Thinking Errors Scenario
    The Physiological Response
    Behavioral Techniques for the Reduction of Tension
    Escalating and Defusing Behavior
    Excalating Behaviors Scenario
    Personal Escalating and Defusing Behaviors
    Chores and Pleasures Schedule
    Chores and Pleasures
    Pleasurable Activity Plan
    Problem Solving Example
    Goal Setting Plan
    Relapse Prevention Plan
    ACT Course Evaluation
    definitions of Assertiveness
    Identifying Styles of Communication
    Barriers to Assertivness
    Dealing with Criticism
    Rights: Statement
    The Wheel of Assertion
    Enhancing Self-Esteem: Introduction
    Enhancing Self-Esteem I: Success and Achievements
    Enhancing Self-Esteem II: Positive Characteristics
    Becoming Confident
    Giving and Receiving Compliments
    The Stress Equilibrium
    Demands and Resources
    Stress Awareness
    Sources of Stress: Checklists
    Goal Setting
    Coping Strategies for Stress

Sample Activity and Chapter Excerpt

  • To increase awareness and understanding of the underlying factors which predispose people to behave aggressively
  • To reach common understanding that aggression is a learned behaviour and can therefore be replaced by other, more adaptive, behaviour
  • To enable clients to identify their general and specific triggers to aggressive behaviour
  • To help clients predict potential risk factors at an early stage to enable productive resolution
  • To identify predisposing and precipitating factors of aggression via group brainstorm and 'Causes of Aggression' handouts
  • To identify general and specific triggers through brainstorming and review of personal anger diaries

    Session Guidelines

    Introduction and review of previous sessions (10 minutes)
    Facilitators should briefly review the key points from the previous session and invite questions and comments from the group. This enables clients to clarify any areas which they found difficult and provide a link with the current session.

    Factors underlying aggression (15 minutes)
    This section (see Handout I, part A), examines predisposing and vulnerability factors, such as peer influence or harsh parental punishment. Underlying factors associated with aggression are specific to the individual. These factors are learned in childhood and later reinforced. They inform our beliefs, attitudes and prejudices. This session allows clients to recognize their own underlying factors and to understand that, while experience cannot be changed, the resultant behaviour can.

    Facilitators should encourage clients to brainstorm underlying factors of aggression as an introduction to the main exercise. It should be re-emphasized to clients that there are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers, and that any ideas that come to mind are valid. These factors should be written up on a flip chart. Clients should be able to identify at least 10 factors similar to those identified in Handout I, part A.

    'Messages' exercise and feedback (60 minutes)
    The messages exercise (Worksheet I) is used to help clients identify and reflect on the major influences informing their belief systems which relate to the role of anger and aggression in their life. This is a personal exercise and group members should be allowed time to work individually. Facilitators may feel, however, that working in pairs is necessary with less able clients.

    Each client is provided with Worksheet I and given 20 minutes to complete it. The group is then reassembled and asked to feedback from their individual worksheets. Messages can be written on the flip chart and exploration and challenging of the messages should be encouraged. These underlying factors are often deeply entrenched and clients are likely to attend selectively to situations which reinforce messages received in childhood; that is, we pay more attention to situations which confirm our views and often ignore contrary evidence.

    General and specific triggers to aggression (15 minutes)
    Facilitators should encourage the group to brainstorm general antecedents/triggers to aggressive behavior in the the same way that they brainstorm underlying factors of aggression earlier in the session (see Handout I, part B for guidance). Clients' personal anger diaries can also be used to help identify individuals' specific triggers. Faciliatators can compile a list on the flip chart from individuals' diaries, together with the brainstorm, and augment this though guided discussion. Clients should be provided with Handout I at the end of this section.

    Identifying triggers or antecedents to aggression can allow clients to identify factors which can lead to aggression. These might appear inrelated to an eventual loss of control, but nevertheless create a build-up of tension. Often the final trigger is relatively insignificant. Awareness of triggers can signal to the individual the need to reduce their levels of tension, and therefore act as 'early warning signs'.

      NB Specific coping strategies for dealing with the antecedents to aggression, such as problem solving and relaxation, are examined in later sessions. Assestiveness and stress-management techniques are addressed within the supplementary program

Reflection, evaluations and coursework (20 minutes)
Session evaluation forms are completed. Matter arising from personal anger diaries are discussed. Clients should be given the opportunity to share any anger-related situations that arose the previous week. Brief group discussion is invited. Praise should be given for successful anger control.

Clients are provided with Worksheet II and asked to complete it for the following session. This exercise aims to encourage clients to identify personal, general and specific triggers to aggression. The exercise completed during this session should help clients with their coursework. This coursework is important as it will be incorporated into clients' individual relapse prevention plans (see Session Eleven).

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