Channelling anger

This is an add-on group, for if there are a number of people with anger problems in the group. Anger can be a powerful force for relapse, whether trying to avoid becoming angry, or using or drinking due to anger itself or the remorse and shame that follows. So in this group we learn about the process of anger (helping to recognise it, and thus decentre from it), and also cover and discuss some ways to deal with it.

The suggested practice is walking – movement can help to ease people who may be wound up and tense, but as always do something else if it seems better to you.

The exercise starts with an optional discussion of statements – you judge whether this feels appropriate to you or not. The statements are adapted from SAMHSA’s anger management workbook, as is the whole exercise, but I have had mixed results with them, with one group thinking they were too obvious (maybe they weren’t an angry enough group!). For this reason, the statements are slightly toned down from SAMHSA’s programme ones – perhaps if you have a very angry group you could use the originals from their programme.

You can elicit the cues using a flipchart like this, with a person’s outline, thinking bubble and heart for feelings, with an extra box for behaviours, to help people parse their experience.

When eliciting the responses at the end, guide them through any coping strategies like box breathing, so that they have real-life experience of doing them, rather than just talking about them. This will help them have more confidence in dealing with the situation when it arises.

Resources

  • Download the group outline, handout and phrases for discussion here.

Flipcharts

  • Title and running order of group
  • Blank body/thoughts/heart/action flipchart
  • Blank for buildup -> explosion -> aftermath and management strategies
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