What Happens in Anger Management Classes?

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Whether you’ve been mandated to attend anger management or you’re interested in attending a class on your own accord, you might wonder what to expect or how it could help.

While there are many different ways a class might be led, in general, anger management classes aim to teach people the skills they need to regulate their emotions and calm themselves down.

Attendance

Attending a class may feel a little intimidating at first. But, you could learn valuable life skills that could help you gain better control over your emotions so anger doesn’t cause problems in your life.

Anger management classes may be taken by anyone who wants to get a better handle on their anger. A mother who yells at her kids, a partner who says mean things during arguments, or a supervisor who blows up at his employees are just a few examples of the type of people you might encounter in an anger management class.

Sometimes, anger management classes are court ordered. A judge may order a violent offender to complete an anger management program. Or, a judge may mandate a parent attend anger management class as part of a custody agreement.

Anger management classes are sometimes used in residential settings. People with traumatic brain injuries, for example, may attend anger management classes while in a psychiatric setting.

Classes or Individual Therapy

Many anger management classes are more like educational class rather than a group therapy. Usually, a trained instructor walks participants through a series of anger management strategies.

Then, armed with new strategies to help them manage their emotions and curb their aggressive behavior, participants can reduce their aggressive behavior and reduce the anger in their lives.

Sometimes, people who are attending an anger management group may also require individual therapy. An individual who has experienced past trauma, for example, may benefit from having an individual therapist to help them process their trauma while they’re simultaneously learning skills in an anger management class.

Anger management can also be taught in individual therapy. Individual therapy can offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling and it can provide more individual attention, as well as privacy.

An anger management class typically costs much less than individual therapy, however. Additionally, participants may learn from their classmates.

Hearing what works for another individual or watching a fellow classmate role play a situation may lead to new understanding.

Curriculum

There are many different curriculum used in anger management classes. Most of them are based on cognitive behavioral therapy strategies.

The cognitive behavioral approach to anger management involves teaching participants how to recognize the warning signs when their anger is on the rise. They’re taught relaxation strategies and calming techniques (behavioral changes). They’re also taught how to change the thoughts that fuel their angry feelings (cognitive changes).

The strategies can be adapted for various groups, such as adolescents, individuals with substance abuse issues, or parents.

Depending on the type of curriculum and the needs of the group, anger management classes may range from 8 sessions to 28 sessions. Classes usually take place on a weekly basis and they are usually one to two hours in length.

Classes are usually fairly small—10 people for example might be a common number of people. Completion of the class may result in a “diploma” or certificate of completion.

Members may be given a workbook. There may also be weekly homework assignments that give participants an opportunity to practice the skills they’ve gained.

Getting Help

Attending an anger management class could help you gain better control over your anger. But, finding a class can feel a bit overwhelming when you aren’t sure where to look.

If you think you could benefit from an anger management class, talk to your physician. Your physician may be able to help you locate a class or refer you to a mental health agency who can assist you in locating resources.

You might also contact your local community mental health center. They may offer a class or may be able to direct you to a class in your community.

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