A 2014 study published by Cambridge University Press reported that approximately 7.8% of American adults struggle with poorly controlled anger, inappropriate anger, or intense anger. This study showed that individuals who struggled with mental health concerns such as bipolar disorder, drug dependence, borderline personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorders may have a higher risk of anger concerns. Keep reading to learn about group therapy activities for individuals with anger issues.
There are several ways that struggling with anger can impact our lives. If someone with inward anger, they can struggle with negative self-talk and unhealthy thoughts about themselves. Someone who struggles with outward anger may act out verbally or physically toward others. This can include yelling and cursing. Another example of someone that may struggle with anger would be the presence of sarcastic or degrading comments toward others. While these individuals may not lash out as someone with outward anger would, their actions are an example of unhealthy behavior.
Some signs that someone may be struggling with managing their anger can include:
- Feeling as though you cannot control your anger
- Regretting what was said when you feel angry
- Noticing that you are angry more often than not
- Becoming angry at small details
- Being verbally or physically abusive toward others
- Experiencing mood swings
- Feeling yourself tensing up when angry
- Friends or family have voiced concern about your anger
Why Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy where a trained therapist facilitates a therapeutic session involving a small group of individuals who share similar emotional or psychological concerns. These group sessions provide a supportive and confidential environment for participants to discuss their challenges, express their feelings, and gain insights into their own experiences and behaviors. Group therapy can focus on various issues, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, or interpersonal difficulties. Through interaction and feedback from both the therapist and other group members, individuals can develop coping strategies, enhance self-awareness, and build a sense of belonging, ultimately promoting personal growth and emotional healing within the context of a supportive community.
Group therapy offers several benefits that make it a valuable and effective approach for addressing a wide range of emotional and psychological concerns:
- Support and Connection: Group therapy provides a sense of belonging and support. Participants realize they are not alone in their struggles, which can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Diverse Perspectives: Group therapy exposes individuals to diverse perspectives and experiences. Hearing from others who have faced similar challenges can provide valuable insights and alternative viewpoints for problem-solving.
- Feedback and Validation: Group members can offer feedback and validation, helping individuals gain a better understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Normalization: Participants often find relief in realizing that their experiences and emotions are common human responses to difficulties. This normalization can reduce shame and self-criticism.
- Social Skills: Group therapy allows individuals to practice and improve social skills, such as communication, active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution, in a safe and supportive environment.
- Cost-Effective: Group therapy is often more cost-effective than individual therapy, making mental health support more accessible to a wider range of people.
- Experiential Learning: Through group dynamics, individuals can learn about themselves and their interpersonal patterns in real-time, which can be highly insightful and transformative.
- Peer Accountability: Group members can provide encouragement and gentle accountability for personal growth and positive change.
- Generalization of Skills: Skills learned in group therapy can be more readily applied to real-life situations and interactions with family, friends, and colleagues.
- Increased Motivation: Sharing progress and setbacks with a group can boost motivation to work on personal goals and make positive changes.
- Confidentiality: Group therapy is conducted in a confidential setting, ensuring that what is shared within the group remains private.
- Efficiency: Group therapy allows therapists to work with multiple clients simultaneously, making it an efficient way to provide therapy services.
Group therapy is an effective tool to help your clients. Keep reading to learn specific activities that can help your clients in a group therapy session.
How Does Group Therapy Help Individuals with Anger?
The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) explains that research has found no significant difference in results when comparing the use of group and individual therapy with individuals who struggle with anger management. The specific treatments that are used in either setting are what will have an impact on the results a person can experience.
As an example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy interventions have been found to help individuals learn skills that can be used to help them control their anger responses. Stress inoculation training and relaxation skills have been found to be effective treatment interventions. DBT skills such as distress tolerance and mindfulness skills have also been supported within research.
List of Group Therapy Activities for Anger Management
As a Group Counselor, it is important to be mindful of the interventions that are used in this setting. This includes tailoring group activities to your group members and being aware of what struggles they have been managing. Because your clients are in your group for their difficulty with anger, it is imperative to keep the group conversation on a healthy and productive track to avoid encountering any confrontations within the group that could be damaging to the group’s cohesiveness.
Here are some examples of group therapy activities for individuals with anger concerns:
- Ask the group to identify changes that they notice within their physical being and thoughts as they go from calm->bothered->frustrated->angry-> furious. Encourage them to try and be more self-aware as they experience emotions.
- Ask the group to keep a journal of when they feel angry. Ask them to identify the event or situation that led to their anger, and to rate the severity of the anger that they are feeling. Ask them to revisit their journal entry after they have worked through their anger to see if there is anything they could have done differently in that situation. Could they have used any coping skills or changed the way they communicated? Can they see a difference in the severity of the situation that contributed to their anger?
- Develop a jeopardy game that goes into topics relevant to your group members. Divide the group into two groups for a friendly game. Topics can include coping skills, mindfulness practices, forms of meditation, effective communication skills, healthy boundaries, and self-care.
- Get group members to share 10 things they are grateful for. Feelings of gratitude often eclipse other negative feelings, such as anger.
- Introduce the group to the DEARMAN DBT skill and discuss the benefits that it can have on their ability to effectively communicate with others. Communication is an important life skill that impacts every relationship in a person’s life.
- Provide education about meditation practices and allow time for practicing different examples of meditation. Spend time exploring their experiences, and thoughts about using meditation in their day-to-day life.
- Provide the group with a list of coping skills that can be used for a variety of emotions, including anger.
- Providing education about mindfulness, and exploring ways that group members can apply mindfulness practices to their day. Ask each group member to identify 2 mindfulness skills that they will commit to trying before the next group session where you can process their experience.
- Role play with group members. Role-playing exercises can help group members practice communication skills and assertiveness in a safe environment. In a group setting, the therapist can lead role-playing exercises around situations that commonly trigger anger.
- Spend a group focusing on the formation of thoughts. As an example; We experience a situation or event. From the Event, we then have thoughts that lead to our feelings, which impact our behaviors. Explore any situations that the group feels provoke unhealthy or unwanted behaviors and what they can do to avoid these situations.
- Spend time discussing the role that our self-talk has on our emotions. Allow the group to identify negative comments that they think internally, and see how they can respond to them in a healthy manner when they arise. Is it possible to do a thought challenge to disprove the comment? Can they narrow down an event that contributed to the thought?
- Spend time discussing the use of grounding skills and examples of when they can be used. Allow time for the group to practice examples that were discussed. Ask group members to commit to trying to use two new grounding skills outside of the group before their next session.
- Spend time focusing on boundaries. Have the group identify boundaries they have, and practice communicating their boundaries with a role-play exercise. This can include physical boundaries and emotional boundaries.
- Spend time providing information about healthy relationship patterns and concerns such as codependency and enabling. Explore examples that the group can provide for unhealthy relationships, and examples of healthy relationships in their lives.
- Spend time talking about group members’ experiences with a variety of emotions. For many, anger can be a more comfortable emotion than other negative emotions such as sadness and loneliness. As a result, when these other negative emotions arise, they may unconsciously shift to anger. You can draw an iceberg and explain that the tip of the iceberg can often be anger, with a variety of other emotions that remain unseen.
- Spend time talking about radical acceptance and the positive impact it can have on our well-being. Discuss that this skill can decrease resentments, and relieve some of the bitterness they are carrying.
- Spend time talking about the benefits of “taking a break” when group members notice that they are beginning to feel angry. This can include physically leaving the space they are in to use emotion regulation skills, such as deep breathing, before returning to the conversation at hand. Another option would be to try changing what they are doing to a more enjoyable activity for the short term and then returning to the situation that was making them angry. Talk through examples of what this could look like for your group members.
- Spend time talking about the importance of self-care practices. Discuss with the group healthy and effective self-care practices. A common misunderstanding is that self-care is associated with spending time or money doing something that we do occasionally compared to fitting a behavior into our daily routine.
- Spend time talking about the role that our physical health has on our mental health. As an example, sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, and taking care of any physical concerns can have a direct impact on mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and anger. Ask the group to identify a change that they can try making to their routine that would improve their physical health. This could include drinking more water, going to sleep 30 minutes earlier, or going for a 15-minute walk outside each day.
- Spend time talking to the group about triggers, such as HALT. Explore the ways that group members act when they feel hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Talk about the importance of being in tune with their body to notice when these triggers are becoming present.
- Talk to the group about the use of self-soothing skills to cope with uncomfortable emotions. Ask the group to identify enjoyable experiences that are tied to their five senses that they can engage in when they begin to feel distressed.
- Using a balloon, ask group members to share an example of something that made them angry this week. For the answers provided, blow the balloon up a little. Follow this by asking what skills were used throughout their week to manage their anger. For the answers provided, let a little air out of the balloon. Use this as an exercise to talk about the impact that using coping and emotion regulation skills can have on our emotions. Ask the group to share any physical consequences, such as tension and headaches, that they experience when they let their “balloon get full”.
Final Thoughts on Selecting Group Therapy Activities for Your Clients with Anger Issues
Thank you for reading this resource on 22 Group Therapy Activities for Anger. When choosing group therapy activities for individuals with anger, you will want to consider the age of your group, and any themes that you have observed in their experiences. This information can help you tailor your group therapy activities to be appropriate and relevant for your group members.
If you prefer to use structured group activities that provide your group members with worksheets or handouts, resources such as these Anger Management Worksheets can provide you with helpful tools for your group.
TherapyPatron.com helps mental health professionals better serve their clients. Our (editable, fillable, printable PDF) therapy worksheets can help you streamline your practice, effectively deliver different types of therapy, and help your clients be their best selves.
Okuda, M., Picazo, J., Olfson, M., Hasin, D. S., Liu, S. M., Bernardi, S., & Blanco, C. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of anger in the community: results from a national survey. CNS spectrums, 20(2), 130–139. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852914000182