Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When a Third Party says, "Fix Them Fast!" - Anger Solutions Crash Course

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I have had requests from counsellors for information or guidance on how to "cram" Anger Solutions into a shorter time frame to suit the needs of agency time budgets, EAP providers, unions, and Probation/Parole. This is a tricky question because we know that Anger Solutions can attribute its success in part to its format: 10 to 12 one-hour group sessions (or 15 sessions in one-on-one coaching), with time in between to practice and assimilate new skills. So when the funder, agency, or judge says - "You have to do this in 3 or 6 sessions", what do you do?

Here are some basic guidelines:
  1. First, get to know as much as you can about the situation. Why does the client need Anger Solutions? Is s/he motivated or mandated to participate? What can you learn about his/her background? Use this information to decide what components of the program might be most valuable.
  2. Second, advocate for as many sessions as you can. The more time you have with the client, the more you can accomplish.
  3. Lastly, utilize your skills of customization. Begin with a program that will cover at least the basics (always start with challenging beliefs), and then add whatever else you can to fill it in.

Here is a sample outline of a program that I tailored for a client who was mandated for 6 hours of anger classes. Because of his busy schedule, he opted for 3 two-hour sessions. It is tricky, but do-able. In italics, you will see what I amended from week to week as I got to know the client better.

Week One: (2 hours)

Guidelines and expectations
Anger Myths and Realities
Feelings (did not spend much time here, because client was resistant)
What's Your Style
How Anger develops and the choices we make
Introduce the Self-Awareness Wheel (see earlier blog entry) and talk about E+R=O, and introduce the TSA model.
Homework: read Steps 4-6 in Anger Solutions book. Do homework exercises and be ready for discussion.

Week Two: (2 hours)

Re- introduce E+R=O and talk about choices we make and talk about the choices he made which led him to being mandated for anger counseling.
Verbal and Non-verbal assertiveness
Listening skills (added two components from Emotionality program, Empathy, and Interpersonal Skills. Spent a lot of time here, talking about the four-part feedback technique and how to let people know you are listening)
Forgiveness and acceptance (this included a bit of discussion about forgiveness from a faith-based perspective, as initiated by the client)
Homework assignment as session dictates it. (Read the last three chapters of the book, and do the Dickens Pattern as it relates to forgiveness for homework)

Week Three: (2 hours)

Releasing Residual Anger - then do the Anger Solutions System in Review.
Go back to the choices we make. Discuss the ABC chart as a tool to monitor Events, Responses, and Outcomes.
Discuss next steps – how will he determine what course of action to pursue in order to achieve outcomes.
Tying up loose ends, celebrate successes.
Answer outstanding questions and finish any discussions that carried over.
Complete exit assessments (Exit survey, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Clinical Anger Scale).
Complete report for Probation Officer.

This is not as much as could have been done, but certainly is plenty considering the time frame we had to work with. If you'd like to see some of the other coaching tools I used for this particular client, please send me an email or leave your comment on this post, and I will forward copies to you.