- Assist the Client to Express Anger
Anger can be a means of covering up a lack of confidence which has served to get the client what they want in the past. Courtesy may have proved ineffective for them in the past. Clients who are considered not to be dangerous or violent can be encouraged to recognize and express their anger. Expressions of anger by the client can be reflected back so that the client becomes aware of their feelings. If the level of anger intensifies, then it may be necessary for the counsellor to take more control of the situation so as to divert the anger away from them.
It is important that the client’s anger is not allowed to get too intense whilst they are talking to the counsellor. One method of controlling the client’s anger is the Gestalt approach as follows: Get your client to focus on an empty chair and imagine the person they wish to vent their anger upon sitting in the chair (even if it is you, the counsellor). Encourage them to talk to the imaginary person rather than to you. This way the anger is removed from you. It may be necessary to join in with them by agreeing with their feelings of anger toward this person. This method allows the client to verbalise their feelings of anger whilst simultaneously diverting them from the counsellor.
This method is obviously not suitable for some types of people, especially those that perpetrate violence against others. These types of people should be referred on to other specialists where they can learn to contain their aggression, rather than express it.
- 2- Encourage Change
When the client’s anger level comes within moderation, it is appropriate to show them strategies for dealing with anger in future. It is good policy to reflect the intensity of the client’s feelings but not to display anger yourself as this can exacerbate the situation.
The first thing is to get the client to become aware of the physiological changes that occur to their body when they become angry. These will be different for each individual. Once the client is in tune with their body’s response to anger they can use these cues to indicate to them that some course of action is required to halt the process. They can basically allow the anger to envelop them and make an angry outburst, or they can take control, stop and respond in another way.
On occasion, it is good to allow a small angry outburst to occur so that the anger is dissipated. Where the client chooses to say ‘stop’ and deal with their anger, this is known as ‘thought- stopping’. As soon as the client becomes aware of any angry thoughts, they say ‘stop’ to themselves and thus interrupt their thought processes. They can then step back from the situation, by imagining themselves being several metres away and looking on at themselves. They may then engage in some relaxation techniques. There are a number of routes that the client may choose to take from here. Some anger management methods are outlined below.
- 3-Time Out
The client may choose to take time out, where they can stop and think about what course of action they are going to take. They may choose to walk away from the situation and in so doing, distance themselves from it. They may need to discuss this procedure with someone significant in their lives.
Once they have had sufficient time out, then they may do a relaxation exercise, do some physical exercise, or become involved in an absorbing task. People who are not violent and not likely to become violent may take out their anger on a punch bag or something similar. Those who are prone to become violent are better referred on to specialist counsellors.
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