Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Anger Management for Sean Avery?

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis just in from the blog: Playoff Observations -- Wednesday
· By:
Janet Eagleson
· On: 4/22/2009 8:15:00 PM

You can read all her comments at:
Here's what Janet has to say about Sean Avery's recent shenanigans on the ice:
How long was Sean Avery's anger management course? Twelve weeks? No wonder it didn't work. Behaviour change takes a minimum of 13.
Now, you know I couldn't read that without commenting! First things first - who says "behaviour change takes at least 13 weeks?" Does it really? And is that 13 weeks of intensive daily therapy, or 4 hours per week, or 1 hour per week? Is TIME the only deciding factor in an individual's ability to change? Sorry... this argument doesn't hold water with Anger Solutions, nor would I expect that most anger management professionals would think this to be true either.

While time most definitely is a factor to consider when we're talking about creating lasting change, there are other, more important variables that play a role - for example:
  • Attitude - motivation and willingness to change are key! Sean Avery could go to anger management for the rest of his life, but if he is not motivated or willing to change his behaviour - chances are he will stay the same.
  • The nature of the programming - did Sean Avery enroll in a class that challenged the beliefs that underly his behaviours, or did it simply give him alternative choices without helping him achieve greater awareness of why he feels his current behaviour is acceptable? It is one thing to "tell" a person that what they are doing is wrong - it is another thing altogether for them to "believe" that their choices are harmful to themselves and others.
  • Responsibility and accountability - was the program that Avery attended all about "doing whatever the GM says so I can play hockey again" or was it about "I need to change my behaviour because my current patterns keep getting me into trouble"? Did Avery learn anything about taking responsibility for his actions? Did he come to realize that he must stand accountable for the choices that he makes? Does he know now that he is 100% responsible for the outcomes that he creates in his life? Apparently not - if his on-ice antics are a reflection of his programming. However, in all fairness to the people who administered his anger management classes, I refer back to my first point. If Avery has no intention of changing, no amount of programming will serve him well over the long term.

So this brings me back to the first point brought up by Janet Eagleson - it takes 13 weeks to change behaviour... this comment is unfounded and unsupported by any research that I have seen. Now, I have long argued that the traditional 6-weeks of anger management that is mandated by the courts for offenders is a bogus number, as there is no evidence to support 6 weeks being the ideal amount of time for programming either. That said, our Anger Solutions programs have run successfully in as short a period as 6 weeks, and as long as up to 15 weeks. Our Facilitators and Trainers experience unparalleled success regardless of the time factor - and we can chalk this up to the flexibility, the multi-pronged approach, and the focus of our programs. You see, we are not just about behaviour change - we are about lifestyle change. We start at the core and deal with what's there (beliefs and choices) and as those come into alignment, behaviour change is a positive byproduct for our participants.

Am I saying that Anger Solutions could succeed with Sean Avery where anger management has apparently failed? Maybe - maybe not. If Avery genuinely wanted to effect positive lasting change in his life, I have no doubt that Anger Solutions would prove successful for him. The facts are these - Anger Solutions has experienced a success rate of over 80% consistently over 12+ years - the best anger management can boast is 70% success. At the very least, we might have a 10% chance of doing better with Avery - but again, it comes down to whether or not he wants to change. His post-season behaviour thus far seems to indicate that he is perfectly happy being the "bad boy of hockey" - so we'll just have to let the chips fall where they may.