What is Anger Management Counseling?
Anger management counseling is the process of helping others recognize anger and learn how to control it. This is done through techniques that help people recognize what triggers their anger, how to avoid those triggers, and how to keep anger under control if a trigger takes place. Anger management counseling is normally done in a clinical setting or in a support group.
Anger is a normal part of life and anger management counseling helps people deal with it. Anger management counseling does not solver anger issues, but rather helps people know what makes them angry so that they can better deal with the situation. Helping people control their anger so that it does not escalate into physical violence is an important part of the counseling. Anger counselors also help individuals cope with the side-effects of anger which can include depression, lack of patience, and recklessness. Without counseling, anger may lead to physical violence which is something a counselor will try to help people avoid.
Anger management counseling is accomplished by counseling sessions where a patient discusses various situations they have been involved in so that the counselor can plan the best course of action to take. This can be anything from assigning simple exercises to making a recommendation to a psychiatrist for medication. Overall, anger management counseling can be beneficial to anyone looking to get a grip on their anger issues.
What Does an Anger Management Counselor Do?
Anger management counselors focus on helping their clients control their anger in a positive and healthy manner. This type of counseling typically occurs in a group setting, in which participants can practice anger management skills together. However, anger management counselors also often work with individual clients in a more traditional therapeutic setting.
Anger management counselors are trained to get to the root causes of anger and to lessen their hold on a client. They also can use any of several techniques to help clients manage their anger, tailoring these treatments to the particular needs of a client. Here are some of the techniques that counselors use or train their clients to use:
- Cognitive restructuring is a technique for changing the way an angry person thinks. Many people, when angry, become overly dramatic or over-react to situations. Counselors can help re-train clients to use logic and clear thinking when confronted with a problem, focusing upon goals and avoiding using superlatives like “never” and “always.”
- Problem-solving means to develop techniques for trying to solve problems that can lead to anger, instead of letting these problems fester. But it is also important to realize that problems can’t always be solved, that sometimes a problem must be adapted to. Learning to cope with an unsolvable situation can be a valuable skill to learn.
- Communication is important because angry people often jump to conclusions instead of trying to get to the root of a problem by talking to those connected to the problem first.
- Humor can be an effective technique for diffusing anger, both in yourself and in others.
- Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, visualization and mantras can help counter or prevent attacks of anger.
A central component of an anger management counselor’s duties is to help the client understand where their anger comes from. Counselors will often ask the following questions to determine the source of the anger:
- Does the client have a short fuse?
- Is the client easily frustrated?
- Has the client been severely emotionally hurt by loved ones?
- Is the anger specific to a particular person or situation or is it generalized?
- Is there a family history of violence or aggression?
- Is there a lot of stress in the client’s life?
These and other questions help an anger management counselor determine the nature of the problem and also inform the counselor about other issues going on in the client’s life. This information can then be used to devise the best approach to addressing the client’s specific anger issues.
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Once a cause is determined, anger management counselors enter the next phase of their job, which is devising and implementing treatment strategies. One of the most common treatments anger management counselors use is cognitive behavioral therapy. In this type of therapy, counselors help clients recognize their self-defeating thoughts and how those thoughts lead to outbursts of unacceptable behavior. Using this approach, anger management counselors help clients to:
- Identify their triggers
- Handle stress in a healthy manner
- More effectively cope with difficult situations
- Resolve conflicts in a calm and controlled manner
- Learn to communicate effectively
Anger management counselors do not set out to eliminate anger from a person’s life. They view anger as a natural reaction to certain events. However, the purpose of their role is to help clients reduce the intensity of their feelings, regulate the emotional arousal that comes with feelings of anger, and control their reactions when anger strikes.
Why Do We Need Anger Management Counselors?
While anger is a natural evolutionary response to a threat and was once necessary for our survival, it is seldom needed in civilized society and can cause serious problems if it isn’t managed properly. In today’s stressful society, many people get into problems with others or with the law because of problems in controlling their temper. Anger can also play havoc with a person’s own body because it can increase a person’s chances of developing coronary heart disease and can lead to insomnia, digestive issues, headaches and other symptoms. Anger is often so deep-rooted in a person that it’s difficult to discover the causes of it.
Anger management counselors help patients manage emotional disorders by working with them to develop strategies to improve their lives. They may diagnose and treat emotional disorders, help clients adjust to life changes like layoffs and divorce, and help people cope with difficult situations by using skills and strategies. Counselors use various techniques to encourage a goal-oriented approach and eliminate damaging behavior.
Where Does an Anger Management Counselor Work?
Mental health counselors including anger management counselors work in varied settings. They may work in private practice, or they may work in an Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) provided by an employer. Anger management counselors also work in substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, colleges and mental health centers. They sometimes work with criminal offenders individually or in groups.
What are the Requirements to Become an Anger Management Counselor?
Many anger management counselors hold a master’s degree in the field of social work, psychology, counseling or a related field. To enter a master’s level program, a bachelor’s degree in a range of fields is typically acceptable. Anger management counselors may come from a background of social work, education, professional counselors in other fields, coaches, substance abuse counselors and mental health workers such as psychiatrists and psychotherapists.
To become a NAMA Certified Anger Management Specialist, NAMA offers two tracks for applicants. Track 1 requires a professional mental health state license and professional insurance, plus five NAMA CEU’s (Continuing Education Credits). One CEU is equal to one contact unit of participation in an organized continuing education or training experience that is provided to an authorized NAMA supervisor or content provider. Distance learning programs are available in the form of web based online programs or with the use of CD’s, books, DVD’s and other written material.
Certification Components for the Anger Management Specialist II Level
Basic Anger Management Component: Participants will have an overview of anger problems and the nature of anger, learn anger management concepts and skills, how to implement an anger log and the role of trigger thoughts. Also covered are an understanding of brain functioning and the role of communication, empathy, stress and consequences.
Supervision Component: Participants complete a minimum of four sessions of anger management under the supervision of an approved NAMA supervisor.
Application Component: Upon completion of the requirements, the applicant completes an application and submits a resume for review by NAMA.
Advanced NAMA Certifications
NAMA offers the opportunity for applicants to pursue Anger Management Specialist certification at advanced levels, through Certified Anger Management Specialist level V. The level V designation is bestowed on individuals who have contributed to research, theory development, leadership and publication in the field.
Another organization that provides Anger Management Specialist certification is the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, the AIHCP. Courses are offered in an online classroom as an independent study.
What Skills and Qualities are Needed to be an Anger Management Counselor?
An individual interested in becoming an anger management counselor is required to have certain personal attributes and skills in addition to appropriate education, training and licensing. Anger management counselors who work with people who are coping with stress should have the ability to empathize with their clients and show compassion and understanding for their situation. They should have the ability to work with different personality types, and practice good listening skills in order to comprehend their clients. Anger management counselors also need excellent communication skills to express their views and give information clearly.
What is the Salary and Outlook for Anger Management Counselors?
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, in 2013 the median salary for mental health counselors was $43,700 per year with an entry level education of a master’s degree.
Employment opportunities for anger management counselors are expected to increase at a much faster rate than the average for all other occupations. The job outlook until 2020 is an increase of 29 percent, much faster than average.
What Careers are Similar to Anger Management Counseling?
Although anger management counseling is a fairly specific area of practice, there are several closely related fields of work that may also address anger, stress, and related feelings and emotions. Among them are:
- Rehabilitation counselor – Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals that have a physical, emotional, developmental, or mental disability. Often, because of the situation they are in, clients with these disabilities may have anger control or anger expression issues. As a result, rehabilitation counselors help their clients overcome these obstacles to live a happier, more functional life.
- Social and community service managers – Sometimes, people in non-counseling positions might offer classes or trainings for people that have an anger problem. Among these professionals are social and community service managers, who typically work closely with community organizations to provide services like anger management classes to the general public.
- Social workers – Typically, individuals that seek the assistance of social workers are having difficulties in their day-to-day lives. They may have marital problems, employment issues, or suffer from a lack of the basics like housing, food, or money. Any of these problems can cause great distress and anger, and social workers often utilize their expertise to help their client overcome these issues.
- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors – In addition to treating substance abuse itself, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must also treat other conditions that usually occur with substance abuse, among them, anger management and control issues.
- Mental health counselor – General mental health counselors work with clients that have a wide array of psychological issues. A counselor whose client has anger management issues might work with that individual on a one on one basis to identify the causes of their anger and develop strategies for recognizing when anger is beginning to take them over. Strategies for calming down and minimizing triggers for anger might also be developed.
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm (visited September 23, 2014).
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Standard Occupational Classification http://www.bls.gov/soc/2010/soc211019.htm