At Clear, we have been helping members of our local community to manage their anger for several years.
Reaching out to people and saying “I have a problem and I need help” can be a very hard thing to do, asking for help can be mistakenly seen as weakness. Nothing can be further from the truth. This can be particularly difficult with anger issues. Not only is someone asking for help, but they are usually also acknowledging that their problem has become destructive in their life and has more than likely led to hurting people close to them; people they love. Doing this can sometimes lead to feelings of guilt and shame. I’m betting most people reading this know these feelings well, and can therefore appreciate the courage to come forward and say I need help.
It can be a huge step to ask for help with anger issues, and we see asking for help as showing real strength of character. We do not seek to add to anyone’s guilt or shame, nor do we seek to sugar-coat any behaviours that an individual has realised are harmful. What we do instead is focus on what has led to an outburst of anger, and crucially, what we can do to try and change so our behavioural response to anger stops being harmful.
Exploring anger issues in a group can be a powerful experience. We can realise that we are not alone, that other people have problems with their anger too, and that our problems can sometimes be very similar to other peoples. Group facilitators are understanding and compassionate, and together as a group of people we explore and talk about different ways of understanding and changing our internal decision making and our behaviour.
There are often pre-conceived ideas about what Anger Management group courses are like. Catherine Tate’s “Nan” sketch on Anger Management, whilst funny, does not show what these groups are usually like. After delivering many of these courses, our experience is that group members get along well, often have a laugh, and support each other.
Neil, a former group members of Clear’s Anger Management Course, answered a few questions to help give an insight into his experience:
Q. How would you describe your anger before the course?
A. When I first came to Clear for help regarding mental health issues I would have said I didn’t have anger issues. Yes, I could blow up at the slightest thing and the red mist would descend into an almost hulk like rage – but isn’t that normal? That’s where Clear helped me by helping me recognise that it is not normal, helping me to recognise why I was doing it, and how best to overcome my outbursts of anger. Understanding more has been a massive help for dealing with it.
Q. What did you expect the course to be like?
A. If I’m honest I expected some college graduate dictating how bad it was to be angry, with no concept of how it really feels to have that loss of control.
Q. What was your actual experience of the anger course?
A. To go into a room with a load of strangers is bad enough. But with the expectations of everyone present being the same as yours, I had low expectations. Fear of the unknown. However, the staff running the course quickly came across as friendly, warm, and compassionate to your problems, and this helped us to relax. It brought the barriers down, and it became an enjoyable experience.
Q. What did you get from the anger course?
A. An understanding that I did have an anger problem. I also learned about some of the reasons why I get angry, I am able to recognise my triggers, and I learned ways to deal with my anger and stay calm.
Q. How would you describe your anger now?
A. I’m not going to say I’m “cured” and live like a Buddhist monk on the top of a very large mountain – my triggers are still there. I can still get angry. But the difference is that now I understand my anger and the hulk of uncontrollable anger doesn’t come out as much as it did. It is a fantastic feeling to no longer live in fear as you’ve learned what it is, what sets it off and most of all how to deal with it.
Jordan, Clear support worker and former Clear service user Neil
For more information about our Clear service in Kirklees click here