Many individuals are familiar with treatment for mental illnesses such as depression, drug addiction and bipolar disorder. Studies show that a majority of the population is unaware that health insurance coverage is sometimes extended to patients with anger management issues.
Individuals with anger management report feeling ashamed of their lack of ability to control public outbursts and failure to manage their own anger causing them to resist seeking help. Others misinterpret their aggression, frustration and flaring tempers as “normal” due to a lack of clinical research. Instead of reaching outside themselves for help, many turn to the Internet to quietly search for options from home.
A recent study by R, Kassinove, Chip Tafrate, PhD, and L. Dundin in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (Vol. 58, No. 12) found that people with high trait anger have anger reactions that are more frequent, intense and enduring. They also tend to report more physical aggression, negative verbal responses, drug use and negative consequences of their anger. In general, their anger negatively affects their relationships, their health and their jobs.
The Four Phases of Change
There are four main phases a person must go through in order to effectively sustain change conducive to the elimination of anger management issues. Patients can expect to participate in a triple-tiered therapy process that will engage their minds on many different levels.
Kassinove and Tafrate, co-authors of Anger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practitioners (Impact, 2002), envision similar combinations of interventions in a model that incorporates four stages of change:
- Preparing for Change: Crucial, but often overlooked. Kassinove says clinicians need to start by helping patients boost their determination and desire to learn.
- Changing: “This stage involves assertiveness training, avoiding and escaping from anger-invoking situations, and a “barb exposure technique” that triggers patients’ anger and then teaches them to relax.”
- Accepting and Adjusting: Throughout this phase, patients are taught how to re-conceptualize their anger triggers, forgive others and let go of troublesome grudges.
- Maintaining change: Treatment is most effective when wrapped up with a long-term care plan. Triggers will always sting the patient at some point or another, so a relapse prevention plan is a vital component to be implemented per Kassinove’s advice.
Treating Anger Issues
The duration of coverage range from two weeks to two years, depending on the health care provider. Research shows that patients respond best to a three-fold treatment plan in which cognitive therapy, relaxation techniques and coping skills are presented to the individual. If a problem does arise, they are familiar with relaxation techniques so that they can breathe deeply through it instead of lashing out in anger. Individuals become trained to approach the issue from a different angle. They don’t accuse someone else of being the source of their problem.
For anger management to be successful, the individual must be willing to make the change. They must recognize that their anger is affecting their lives, relationships and ability to function in society. They must accept that they are ready to embrace a new way of living and approach therapy with an open mind. Once this is accomplished, the individual is on their way to anger management recovery.