What is it that makes anger management courses effective? How are can you tell the difference between an anger management class with substance and one without?
I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and I’ve read probably close to 100 books on the topic, been to countless training classes and taken several anger management courses myself. After all that you can imagine that I’ve seen some good ones and some bad and can tell the difference. Of course I’m a bit biased towards my approach, but whether you choose to do one of my my anger management courses or someone else’s there are a few things you should keep in mind.
It might sound funny for me to say this but most anger management courses don’t work and there are two reasons for this. One is because of the course itself. Most workbooks I have seen or courses I’ve attended tend to approach the problem from only one angle – you’ve heard of them – you need to count to ten, you need to take a step back and think about things, you should try to see things from the other person’s point of view. These are all very important anger management techniques and in fact you will see that I incorporate some of them in my anger management courses. The problem is that they are only one angle of the problem. What separates my course from others you may have taken is that I cover anger from all angles – what I call the “Four Horsemen of Anger” – biology, triggers, mental shortcuts and communication (e.g. how to offer criticism, how to deal with difficult people, etc…
The second reason most anger management courses don’t work is you. Change is a process not an event, it takes time and effort. Now, this might seem obvious to you, but knowing this and following it are oftentimes two different things. Most people approach a course like this like gangbusters – “I’m gonna lick this thing once and for all” and they go all out for five or six weeks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people about a month into the program say to me “Doc, I really think I’ve got this anger management thing l beat – I haven’t gotten pissed off in weeks”. That’s usually my first sign that a big blowout is just around the corner. Its just human nature – just like the gym, quitting smoking or going on a diet, we all get excited , we are all super aware and super diligent about our behavior and things seem to come so easily. But enthusiasm can only carry most of us so far and then reality starts to creep back in.
To find out more about what makes a good experience and what makes a bad one check out my new white paper report “Why Most Anger Management Courses Don’t Work”.