Anger Management

Study anger management by distance education. Learn to understand anger, and study the skills for managing anger and helping others manage anger as a counsellor, welfare worker or in health support.

Course Code: BPS111
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Study Anger Management Techniques to help yourself of others control anger.

  • Develop your understanding of anger to help yourself control and improve your own anger.
  • Train as a consultant to help others control their anger.
  • This course aims to help you understand anger, and develop skills to deal with anger in:
    • The workplace.
    • With counselling clients.
    • In everyday life.
    • In your personal relationships.
    • Your own reactions.
    • Sporting situations.
    • And many more situations.

Whilst we tend to construe anger as a bad thing, anger involves both positive and negative aspects. The negative aspects are all too familiar i.e. thinking becomes clouded, you may become overly defensive, and you might act on your anger in a violent or aggressive way. The positive aspects which are often overlooked are that we often express our feelings when we otherwise might repress them, we have heightened energy levels due to physiological arousal, and we can often solve problems and take control whilst we are in this elevated state. The idea behind anger management is not to remove all anger, but to manage it by channelling it into the positive aspects and away from the negative aspects. If anger is expressed in acceptable and appropriate ways then it can be productive rather than destructive.

We all experience anger, though some people might be considered more bad tempered than others. Given that anger is a strong emotion, it can become too strong and over-bearing. When this happens, people may over-react. At such times it is possible to draw other people in and so the anger escalates. Anger management seeks to control exaggerated anger and channel it into constructive areas.

There are many anger management techniques ranging from relaxation exercises to changing thought patterns, learning how to communicate better to reducing stress levels.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of Anger
    • Introduction
    • The autonomic nervous system
    • Anger and arousal
    • Galvanic skin resistance
    • Voice stress analyser
    • Polygraph
    • Degrees of arousal
    • Difficulties of arousal theories
    • Theories of emotion
    • James Lange theory
    • Cannon Bard theory
    • Schachter's theory
    • Lazarus's appraisal theory
    • Weiner's attribution
    • Averill's social construction theory
    • Facial feedback theory
  2. Managing Anger with Counselling
    • Causes of anger
    • Frustration
    • Breaking personal rules
    • Self defence
    • Expression of anger
    • Counselling strategies
    • Empty chair technique
    • Recognising psychological arousal
    • Thought stopping
    • Relaxation exercises
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Time out
    • Assertiveness training
    • Three steps in assertiveness training
    • Five stage assertiveness training interview
    • Mental blocks to assertiveness
  3. Managing Anger with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
    • Cognitive behavioural therapy
    • Identifying antecedents
    • Assessment of anger
    • Beginning therapy
    • Teaching CBT
    • Inferences
    • Evaluations
    • Chaining
    • Disputing inferences and evaluations
    • Independence and blocks to change
    • Use of imagery
    • Emotional insight
    • Exposure
    • Termination
    • Working with anger problems in CBT
    • Problems with CBT for anger management
  4. Anger Management Techniques for Violence
    • Introduction
    • Anger and violence
    • Appearance
    • Posture
    • Affect
    • Speech
    • Causes of violence
    • Cold violence
    • Hot violence
    • Reactive violence
    • Tips for dealing with a violent client
    • Strategies for violence prevention
    • Action after violence
    • Managing violence against others
    • Mental disorders and violence
  5. Anger Management for People with Mental Health Issues
    • DSM dimensions to diagnose mental illness
    • Dementia
    • Dementia and anger
    • Supporting clients with dementia
    • Grief
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Stages of grief
    • Tasks of mourning
  6. Managing Anger in Children and Adolescents
    • Introduction
    • Toddlers
    • Temper tantrums
    • Older children and anger
    • Adolescence
    • Psychological changes in girls
    • Psychological changes in boys
    • Depression
    • Eating problems
    • Adults sharing anger
  7. Anger Management for People with Special Difficulties
    • People with personality disorders
    • Psychopathology
    • Borderline personality disorders and treatment
    • Psychopath and treatment
    • Roid rage, symptoms and abuse
  8. Anger Management Services
    • Counselling
    • Anger management clinics
    • Courses and workshops
    • Group and individual work
    • Conflict management
    • Conflict handling techniques
    • Life coaching
    • Setting up an anger management consultancy
  9. Deciding on a Course of Action
    • PBL Project to create and present a plan of anger management to support an individual experiencing serious anger difficulties.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss the nature and scope of anger including psychological and physiological manifestations.
  • Explain the biological, social and psychological causes of anger and the strategies used by counsellors to deal with the underlying causes in an effort to diffuse the build up of anger in people
  • Explain how anger problems can be addressed through the application of cognitive behavioural counselling
  • Discuss anger management techniques to diffuse violent outbursts and manage violence
  • Consider anger management issues for people with specific mental health issues.
  • Explain the causes of anger in children and adolescents, and review a wide range of techniques for addressing those issues.
  • Determine the nature and scope of anger management services in society.
  • Identify ways to support clients seeking anger management services
  • Evaluate a situation where anger is becoming a problem and determine an appropriate course to follow in response to the problem.

What is Anger

Like many other emotions, it is very difficult to give a precise definition of anger. In general terms, what we can say is that it is a strong reaction to an array of different situations such as being attacked, being restrained, losing one’s job, and so forth. You can probably think of many other instances which make you angry.

A definition of anger also usually includes physical reactions to the anger-provoking stimuli. For instance, clenched fists, facial expressions, deep sighs, and so on are all possible physical reactions. Many of these are autonomic nervous system responses, especially from the subdivision known as the sympathetic division which is associated with preparing the body for action. Indeed, anger can manifest in an attack response in many species.

One of the difficulties in defining anger is that different researchers and authors might include other emotional reactions such as hatred, hostility and rage under their definition of anger.

If you were to consult an English language dictionary you would probably find a definition along the lines of “a strong feeling caused by extreme displeasure”.

Some Techniques to Deal with Anger

In cases where anger is not severe and there is an imminent threat of violence, a counsellor may prefer to deal with anger rather than refer the angry client on to another professional. One of the techniques at the counsellor’s disposal is to help the client to recognise their anger and to express it within the safe environs of the counselling process.

This might begin by reflecting back feelings or thoughts e.g. “I can see that talking about this is making you angry”. However, if the client’s level of anger appears to escalate, then it is prudent for the counsellor to take control and divert the anger away from them.

Empty Chair Technique

One of the techniques used by Gestalt therapists is the ‘Empty Chair Technique’. This involves asking the client to face an empty chair and imagine it is occupied by someone with whom they are angry. The client is then encouraged to express their feelings of anger towards the ‘person’ in the chair. They should address the person they are angry with directly and may need to be guided to do so e.g. “I'm really angry with you, Dad…” rather than “I'm really angry with my Dad”. This helps them to be more open and less reserved.

The advantage of this method is that the anger is not directed towards the counsellor. Also, the client can vocalise their anger and get it off their chest. Encouraging a client to express their anger should not be attempted with someone with a known history of violence, someone with a known mental health disorder, or someone who clearly has difficulties in controlling their actions.

Recognising Physiological Arousal

As we discussed in Lesson 1 there are a wide range of physiological changes which can occur in the body when we become angry. Although we probably mostly experience the same symptoms, the degree or notability of symptoms might be different for different people. For instance, one person who becomes angry might notice that their cheeks become hot and flushed. Another person might notice that they clench their fists or teeth. It is important for the angry client to learn to recognise these symptoms so that when they feel them happening, they can either use them as cues to take control over their anger, or they can choose to release the angry outburst. Either way, learning to recognise their physiological cues provides them with a choice as to what happens next. There’s no harm in releasing anger every now and then but to do it continuously would destroy relationships around them.

There are several courses of action a client might take once they have come to recognise the physiological changes which occur when anger wells up.

Thought Stopping

The client may say ‘stop’ to themselves when they feel themselves becoming angry. Typically the physiological changes will be accompanied by angry thoughts and so thought-stopping is a technique whereby they can arrest those angry thoughts. One method is to imagine they are looking at themselves from outside their body. Another method is to begin breathing more slowly and perhaps count from 1-10 inside their head. This helps the muscles of the body to relax.

A variation on this them is the ‘stop, think, do’ approach or traffic lights. Whilst it is sometimes used with children to control behaviour it can also work with adults. The client is encouraged to envision a red traffic light signifying ‘stop’ when they feel themselves becoming angry. They then ‘think’ about what action to take, and then they ‘do’ that action. The provision of the thinking stage allows them to make a choice about how they respond.

Relaxation Exercises

As alluded to above, relaxation is an important means of learning to manage anger. Breathing exercises involve taking in a deep breath, pausing for a couple of seconds, and then exhaling until the lungs are empty. In the counselling room, the client might lower their head forward slightly as they do this and allow their arms to become limp, hanging down over either side of the chair. When they breathe in, they might say to themselves “breathing in relaxation”. As they breathe out, they could say “breathing out anger”. If they do this for several minutes they will feel their physiological arousal slowly disappear.

How This Course Can Help You

Anger is a normal response to emotional arousal. Some people, however, have abnormal anger responses or difficulties controlling their anger. When this becomes problematic for them, they need to find non-destructive ways to control their anger. This course guides students through what it means to be angry – physiologically and psychologically, and different strategies which can be implemented to help people deal with their anger. Graduates will have the knowledge of how to apply anger management in counselling or other settings.

Suitable for:

This course is intended to appeal to people working in, or proposing to work in:

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Legal Services
  • Law Enforcement
  • Counselling
  • Psychology
  • Caring roles
  • Health professions
  • Personnel management
  • Teaching
  • Human relations
  • Coaching      
  • Social Services
  • Youth Work

If you would like to learn techniques to control your own anger or help others to control theirs, then why not enrol today on this distance learning course?

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Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Tracey Jones (Psychologist)

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE.
Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc.
25 years industry experience in writing, editing, education, psychology, and business. Tracey has several books and hundreds of articles published; in both fiction and non fiction.

Jacinda Cole (Psychologist)

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist.
B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA
Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Jacinda has worked for ACS for over 10 years.

Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.

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