While everyone experiences anger now and again, in some people the emotion becomes out of control, making it difficult to live normally. An anger management group is a group of people meeting regularly to learn ways of controlling anger, under supervision. Groups may be set up to deliver an anger management program in an institution such as a school or prison. Working on an anger problem in a group has the advantages of being less intense, offering peer support and more varied discussions, and enables more people to receive treatment at once. Although different methods of anger management are taught inside the group, the emphasis is on individuals finding ways of coping that work for them.
There are different types of anger. Some people direct their anger outward in an extroverted and sometimes violent way, while others hold it in, in a quiet and controlled manner. Anger is referred to as a secondary emotion because it is usually a response to an underlying, primary emotion such as fear or feeling pressured. There are a number of physical effects associated with anger, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, shaking and a raised temperature. It is probably not useful to refer to healthy anger and unhealthy anger, but there are many situations when expressing anger may not benefit individuals, and an anger management group can help to teach coping methods.
An anger management group generally works best when all the members of the group have freely chosen to participate. It is also important to ensure that the individuals can all get along together. While numbers can vary, the optimum figure for an anger management group is usually around five to seven members. The room in which meetings take place should be one in which the group will not be disturbed once a session has started. Groups often work best when there are two supervisors, as one can carry out an exercise while the other observes the participants' reactions and responses.
During an anger management group program, individuals are encouraged to think about the effect that their anger has on them physically and the triggers for their outbursts. Any known calming strategies are discussed and new methods are taught, providing each person with a range of options to prevent anger from escalating. As well as learning calming techniques such as breathing exercises, members of an anger management support group may be introduced to conflict resolution. This helps an individual avoid entering situations which could trigger anger.