How to Create an Evidence-Based Treatment Plan for Anger: What to Include + Example

Anger is a common emotional response that falls within our natural range of emotions. It can encompass feelings of displeasure, hostility, and frustration. Some individuals find it easier to express anger than other emotions, turning to it when distressed. Anger can be triggered by internal or external factors, with responses varying widely. While some can manage anger independently, others struggle and may experience outbursts or aggression. Discover how to create an evidence-based treatment plan for anger management.

A 2016 study found that approximately 7.8% of the U.S. population experienced inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger. Research indicates that anger is more prevalent in men and younger adults, and it’s linked to lower psychosocial functioning. Individuals with bipolar disorder, drug dependence, psychotic disorder, borderline personality disorder, and Schizotypal personality disorder often experience difficulties with anger. Chronic anger can lead to various physical and mental health issues, interpersonal conflicts, and workplace challenges, prompting individuals to seek therapy.

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View our Counseling treatment Plan that corresponds with this resource or view all anger management worksheets

Creating Treatment Plan Goals and Objectives for Anger

When setting goals for your client’s anger management plan, it’s crucial to review insights gained from previous sessions. This involves assessing their current anger symptoms’ severity and impact on daily life. Understanding this helps identify impactful and achievable goals aligned with their emotional state. Also, consider co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety, substance use, or personality disorders for a comprehensive treatment plan.

Clinicians can use various treatment modalities to address anger, including:

Additional treatment options to consider for a comprehensive plan are family therapy, couples counseling, group therapy, and, if necessary, the inclusion of psychotropic medications to assist with symptom management.

What to Include in a Counseling Treatment Plan for Anger + Example

In the following discussion, we will delve into different aspects of an anger issues treatment plan, focusing on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as the primary approach. TherapyByPro, a valuable resource for mental health professionals, offers various worksheets and templates like a Counseling Treatment Plan Template and our Anger Management Worksheet Bundle, which can assist you in your clinical practice.

We’ll outline components of a treatment plan using a case study as an example:

John Doe is a 32-year-old male seeking help for emotion regulation difficulties and poor anger management. He is married with two children, ages 5 and 7. John experiences intense anger episodes triggered by minor frustrations that often include yelling and verbal forms of aggression towards those around him. He has indicated that he has always struggled with impulsivity and has never really handled stress well. John denied the use of drugs, and reported having “maybe two beers” a week while watching a sporting event. He denies a history of heavy substance use, noting he has never been unable to control his use.  John denied taking any medications for mental and physical health concerns, besides a multivitamin. He reported that his anger has put a strain on his marriage, caused conflicts with other family members, and has created concerns at work. He verbalized concerns about how his inability to control his anger affects his children, explaining that he does not want them to have the same struggles with anger that he does. John shared that after he has calmed down, he usually feels embarrassed or ashamed of his outbursts because he recognizes that the trigger that started it for him is usually insignificant when compared to his reactions. John’s wife is receptive to the idea of family therapy and supporting John in his treatment goals. 

Plans for Care Coordination and Agencies Involved

In John’s case, there is no note of a referral source, as he appears to be self-referred. He does not indicate any other mental health diagnoses, or health concerns that would warrant care coordination with another provider. Based on the information provided, you can ask John if he would like any other professionals looped in with his care, however, it does not appear necessary in this case.

Example for John:

Other Agency: None at this time

Plan to Coordinate Services: N/A

Clinical Diagnoses

John’s case does not appear to indicate the presence of a mental health diagnosis. While anger is a symptom of various mental health concerns, he does not appear to be struggling with concerns like disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, substance use disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are assessments that can be used to learn valuable information about the nature, severity, and impact of anger related difficulties, which would be informative for John’s treatment plan. Examples of self-report questionnaires and structured interview tools that could be used include:

  • The State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI-2)
  • Anger Disorders Scale (ADS)
  • Multidimensional Anger Inventory (MAI)
  • Anger Rumination Scale (ARS)
  • Novaco Anger Scale (NAS)
  • Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ)
  • Beck Anger Inventory (BAI)

Example for John:

No clinical diagnosis

Supporting Assessments: Beck Anger Inventory-Score of 36

Current Medications and Responses

John indicated that he was not taking medications at this time, so this section of his treatment plan can indicate this information. Individuals who do use medications to aid in their anger management could use SSRIs, SNRIs, atypical antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, beta blockers, or benzodiazepines.

Example for John:

None at this time/ N/A/ N/A/ N/A

Presenting Problem and Related Symptoms

In this section of your treatment plan, you will provide a detailed report of John’s symptoms and the impact they have had on his day-to-day life.

Example for John:

Client presents with difficulties in emotion regulation and poor anger management. He reports experiencing intense anger episodes triggered by minor frustrations, often resulting in yelling and verbal aggression toward others. John acknowledges a long-standing struggle with impulsivity and poor stress management. He denies substance abuse issues but admits to consuming alcohol occasionally, with minimal intake. John reports that his anger has strained his marriage, caused conflicts within his family, and raised concerns at work. He expresses worries about the impact of his anger on his children and desires to prevent them from experiencing similar struggles.

Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives that are identified in your treatment plans will likely include long-term goals that align with your client’s presenting problems. It is important that the goals listed are specific, realistic, and attainable. Objectives are components of larger goals that can be reached in a shorter period of time, indicating progress and growth. Treatment plan goals and objectives for anger could resemble:

Example Goals and Objectives for John:

Goal 1: Develop personal anger awareness and self-regulation skills

Objective 1: John will learn his early signs of anger (i.e. physical and cognitive cues) by practicing mindfulness techniques that promote awareness of internal experiences without judgment

Objective 2: John will develop emotion regulation skills by learning relaxation techniques, using cognitive restructuring skills, and implementing new problem-solving skills

Objective 3: John will improve impulse control and response inhibition by using behavioral interventions to interrupt automatic reactions, use coping skills to delay impulsive responses, and practice assertive communication skills.

Goal 2: Enhance coping skills and stress management techniques

Objective 1: Learn and utilize healthy coping skills for stress management and utilize exercise and relaxation techniques to promote overall well-being

Objective 2: Cultivate effective coping skills to manage anger triggers, including reframing and positive self-talk to reinterpret situations

Objective 3: Track triggers, emotions, and coping responses in a journal to review in sessions

Goal 3: Enhance interpersonal skills and communication strategies

Objective 1: Improve assertive communication skills by practicing active listening, and using conflict resolution skills to negotiate differences

Objective 2: Strengthen interpersonal relationships with the use of family sessions and social skills training

Objective 3: Develop empathy and perspective-taking skills by engaging in role-playing exercises and reflecting on the impact his anger has had on his relationships

Specific Interventions to Be Used

In the case example of John Doe, we used CBT throughout his treatment plan, with tailored interventions specific to his identified challenges and concerns.

Examples for John:

Intervention/Action: Psychoeducation about anger; more specifically physical and cognitive cues

Responsible Person: Counselor A

Intervention/Action: Cognitive Restructuring

Responsible Person: Counselor A

Intervention/Action: Use of Thought Records for Tracking Triggers

Responsible Person: John

Intervention/Action: Self-monitoring and Thought Stopping

Responsible Person: John

Intervention/Action: Relaxation techniques including, but not limited to, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery

Responsible Person: Counselor A and John

Family Involvement

John indicated that his wife was open to being included in his treatment. This could be a valuable treatment option to enhance his communication skills with his wife, and enhance his interpersonal skills in a safe, and supportive environment, when he is ready.

Example for John:

John wishes to include his wife in couples counseling to focus on developing healthy communication skills, enhancing relationship satisfaction, and improving the overall health of their relationship. 

Additional Services and Interventions

Additional services would include other interventions used to provide holistic care. Examples of additional services and interventions that could be used include support groups, and family counseling sessions

Example for John:

  • Provide John with a referral for local anger management support group
  • Provide John with a referral for family counseling sessions to address the impact John’s anger has had on the family unit as a whole, including his children if appropriate 

Estimation for Completion

The duration of anger management counseling based on an individual’s difficulties, goals, and personal growth. Some clients reach their goals in 1 to 3 sessions, whereas others may engage in regular counseling sessions for several months. John presents with anger concerns that are having an impact on his life, but are not having a severe impact on his functioning. Because of this, he may benefit from short-term counseling, ranging from 6 to 12 sessions.

Example for John:

12 weeks; can be adjusted if needed

Aftercare Plans

Aftercare plans should be included in your treatment plans as a precautionary measure in the event of an early termination, regardless of the reason. These plans can be revised during treatment plan evaluations to align with advancements and alterations in symptoms.

Example for John:

Aftercare plans:

  • Referral for licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist                   
  • Referral to local anger management support group
  • List of local community mental health treatment centers

Final Thoughts On Creating an Anger Treatment Plan

Thank you for reading our resource how to create an evidence-based treatment plan for anger. Creating an anger management treatment plan necessitates a thorough grasp of each client’s individual triggers, coping strategies, and underlying causes of their anger. By customizing interventions like cognitive-behavioral methods and emotion regulation strategies, therapists empower clients to identify, control, and channel their anger positively. Establishing a strong therapeutic bond is crucial for instigating change and ensuring lasting success in anger management therapy.

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 support your clients be the best version of themselves.

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View all anger management worksheets

Resources:

  • Okuda, Mayumi et al. “Prevalence and correlates of anger in the community: results from a national survey.” CNS spectrums vol. 20,2 (2015): 130-9. doi:10.1017/S1092852914000182
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384185/
Kayla VanGuilder, MA, LCMHC
Author: Kayla VanGuilder, MA, LCMHC

Kayla is a Mental Health Counselor who earned her degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She has provided psychotherapy in a residential treatment program and an outpatient addiction treatment facility in New York as well as an inpatient addiction rehab in Ontario, Canada. She has experience working with individuals living with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and trauma.

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