Group Therapy for Anger

Learn about group therapy for anger from anger management expert Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in this Howcast video.


In terms of anger management, group therapy is done very frequently in the scientific literature when compared to individual therapy. And the important piece to remember is first there is scientific evidence that anger management works in a group setting. We've seen study after study that four different types of interventions in a group therapy situation actually do work. So we have cognitive restructuring that seems to work. We have relaxation training that works. And then we have skills training that involve assertive communication and problem solving. And then there’ve been a number of studies that have in fact combined different versions of those and all of them put together and shown that, that also works. So therapist and clinicians have a lot of options in terms of picking interventions that actually do work. With that said, even though we do know that it works it's very important that the clinician is trained in these scientific methods and has been supervised very well. Because we also know, for instance, when group therapy has been applied to populations who do seem to experience levels of high anger and aggression like conduct disordered adolescents and things of that nature, they actually might get worse. What probably happens in those situations and I've seen this when I was working with adolescents is, one will discuss how they were, in fact brutalizing someone. And they will be in fact reinforced for it by the other group members in fact applauding, cheering them along. And so we have two things happening. One we have one patient who is in fact modeling the behavior that someone else might pick up. And two they’re being encouraged and reinforced for it. So it's critical one that the clinician really know what they're doing, so they can make sure to curb of any of those types of behaviors. And that they’re really practicing the scientific methods that have been proven to work. Because we do know that oftentimes even in times and in top psychology books, recommendations like venting anger and things of that nature are recommended. There’s lots of evidence that demonstrates it might actually make anger worse and it certainly makes aggression worse.

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