Anger Management Course

Train as an anger management consultant or learn to control your own anger.

  • Study Anger Management at home
  • Learn about what causes anger to develop
  • Learn ways or reducing or controlling anger
  • Expand your skills as a parent, teacher, manager, counsellor, coach or in any other capacity where anger can become an issue

This course is suitable for anyone having to help others with anger management or who wants to understand the issues involved with anger and its management.   Students are welcome to enrol from anywhere in the world.


Course Structure and Contents

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.

Duration: 100 hours


Introducing Anger Management

Before we consider anger management, it is necessary to understand what anger actually is. Like many other emotions, it is very difficult to give a precise definition. In general terms, what we can say is that anger 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 physiological reactions to the anger-provoking stimuli. For instance, clenched fists, facial expressions, deep sighs, and so on are all possible physiological 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”.

The Autonomic Nervous System

As mentioned above, the physiological manifestations of anger are part and parcel of understanding anger. To this end, we need to look more closely at what happens in the body when someone becomes angry. Specifically, we need to understand the role of the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is associated with the overall ‘state’ of the body. It is composed of unmyelinated nerve fibres which run from the spinal cord and base of the brain to internal and external sensory organs. The ANS is comprised of the sympathetic division which is involved with an action state, and the parasympathetic division which is concerned with a resting state.

Activation of the sympathetic division is synonymous with arousal. During arousal, changes in the operation of the internal organs of the body take place which stimulate alertness and readiness for action. For example, the spleen releases more red blood cells into the blood stream which increases the blood’s oxygen content. The heart beats faster thereby circulating the blood faster to muscles supplying sugars and oxygen, and it also replaces the used oxygen faster. Our breathing becomes deeper so that more oxygen is provided to the lungs. Sugar is metabolised more quickly by the digestive system to supply a ready source of energy, but foods in need of longer term digestion take longer to digest. Such changes are known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.

This response enables an animal to either flee or stand and fight by equipping it with sufficient energy. In terms of evolution, the fight or flight response maximises an animal’s chances of survival in the face of danger. If an animal were to fight, then increased levels of blood clotting platelets released during the response will minimise bleeding. Endorphins released by the brain will minimise the sensation of pain.

Other responses include sweating to cool active muscles and dilated pupils to focus on external stimuli. The changes are stimulated by neural impulses from the sympathetic division of the ANS and are maintained by the endocrine system. The glands of the endocrine system release hormones and during arousal it is those hormones of the pituitary and adrenal glands which are involved.

Specifically, the pituitary gland releases glucocorticoids which are responsible for converting fats to glucose in the digestive system and for inhibiting the immune response until the fight or flight response has finished. The pituitary gland also releases ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone) which stimulates the adrenal gland to secrete adrenalin. This enters the bloodstream where it maintains levels of muscular activity, a suitable blood supply to muscles, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration.

The parasympathetic division of the ANS is not quite the opposite of the sympathetic division but its activity does counteract many of those of the sympathetic division. For example, rather than dilate the pupils its actions constrict them and rather than inhibit longer term digestive processes it stimulates them. The parasympathetic division of the ANS is concerned with stimulating the body’s restorative processes through promoting tissue repair and storing fats and sugars for when they are needed. When the intense activity of the sympathetic division declines, the parasympathetic division becomes active. If you were to become angry this would stimulate the sympathetic division of your ANS, as you calmed down the parasympathetic division of your ANS would activate.

Anger and Arousal

There has been a great deal of research over the years into physiological arousal and emotional states. We know, for instance, that exercise causes heightened physiological arousal and the release of adrenaline. Similarly, anger is associated with increased levels of arousal. There is some evidence to suggest that arousal and anger (or other emotions for that matter) have a reflexive relationship. That is, they each enhance each other. As arousal increases so does anger, and as anger increases so does arousal.

Physiological changes associated with arousal and anger can be readily observed. For instance, fear might be seen as a loss of colour in the face, but anger is more likely to be observed as a reddening of the face. Nevertheless, different people do not always exhibit the same outward signs of anger and so we cannot always rely on what we can see. Various measures of arousal can provide a better indication:

Galvanic Skin Resistance (GSR)

When we are aroused by our emotions we tend to perspire more. The resultant perspiration causes changes to the electrical conductivity of the skin's surface which can be measured through electrodes affixed to the skin. GSR is a measure of how much electricity is being conducted by the skin. Even thinking about an incident which makes you feel angry will produce a change in your skin’s conductivity.

Voice Stress Analyser

When we talk there are naturally occurring tiny vibrations of the vocal cords, often indiscernible to the ear. If we speak when we are angry (or emotionally aroused in some other way e.g. fear, anxiety, or worry), then there is a detectable change in the sound of the voice. Some people are able to learn to hide these changes and thereby hide their emotions. Nevertheless, their voice will sound somewhat flat if you listen out for it. This is because they have had to suppress the natural vibrations of their vocal cords in an attempt to exert control over their underlying anger. A voice stress analyser produces a voiceprint on a sound spectrograph which is basically a visual interpretation of the sound. Stressed speech differs from normal speech in that there is no rhythmic variation.


This measures arousal on various levels including GSR, blood pressure, heartbeat, and pulse rate. All this information is combined to produce an overall estimate of arousal level. If used as a lie detector, the polygraph relies on people becoming more aroused when telling a lie than telling the truth. This is because most people are more anxious about lying. The difference between an individual’s arousal reaction to everyday truthful statements and lies can be detected. Obviously, this is only a measure of physiological arousal and so it is impossible to distinguish between a truthful statement which causes an emotional response and a lie. For instance, someone may feel intense anger whenever they think of their parents, so a question such as “Did you steal your father’s car?” to which they responded “No!” could be misinterpreted as a lie.

Degrees of Arousal

Arousal is not a uniform phenomenon. We can feel aroused to different degrees, such as mildly aroused, quite aroused, highly aroused and so on. The degree of arousal we experience can impact upon our performance. This relationship between arousal level and performance was described by the Yerkes-Dodson Law of Arousal. Here, it is assumed that the relationship can be explained by considering an inverted U curve. As performance along the x axis increases, the arousal level along the y axis increases until you reach the centre of the curve where arousal reaches its optimum level. Once you go past this, arousal begins to decline.

As such, it can be seen that a moderate or average level of arousal optimises performance. If arousal is too low or too high, performance will suffer. The optimum level of arousal differs across tasks depending on how complex they are. For instance, the curve would be flatter for a simple task which requires little thought such as making a cup of coffee. You would not perform the task terribly well if you were daydreaming and not alert but you would have to be very aroused in order to knock the cup over. If you were doing a more complex task such as cooking a new meal which you had not attempted before, you would need to be more aroused to begin with. If you were really angry, this would interfere with your ability to successfully carry out the task more so than if you were making a cup of coffee.

However, in work with athletes, Hardy (1988) contested the Yerkes-Dodson Law of Arousal. According to the law, if an athlete became too angry it would inhibit their performance. If they then calmed down a little, they would be able to resume optimum performance levels. Hardy found that in high level sports, performance did not work according to the inverted U curve. The athletes would have to calm down a lot rather than a little in order to resume their optimal performance. He therefore proposed a ‘Catastrophe Theory’ to describe the relationship between arousal and performance. According to Hardy, there is a gradual improvement in performance as arousal levels increase until optimum performance levels are reached, but then there is a sudden demise. This model might better explain why it is so difficult for athletes to get back to their best performance level once they have been angered.

Difficulties of Arousal Theories

The usefulness of arousal as a means of measuring emotional reactions has been brought into question. For instance, the physiological responses to arousal caused by different stimuli and emotions can be quite different. Indeed, Funkenstein (1955) demonstrated that the fear response produced physiological changes similar to those produced by adrenalin (epinephrine), whereas the anger response produced changes more similar to those induced by (noradrenalin) norepinephrine.

Some have suggested that because arousal has been used in so many different ways and to describe many different types of emotional responses that it is too difficult to concur over what has actually been measured and to therefore draw any valid conclusions.

Others, such as Green (1987) have argued that arousal is useful as a general concept when studying broad patterns of responses rather than specific reactions. Nevertheless, autonomic arousal embraces different types of responses and is therefore not exact.

Furthermore, the nature of experimentally induced arousal has also been queried in the sense that it might not replicate arousal which occurs in the real world. Moreover, different researchers have used different definitions of anger - which brings us neatly back to the issues raised in the introduction to this lesson. Rose, Kamin and Lewontin (1984) suggested that in much the same way as different authors define aggression differently, so too do different authors have different ideas about what constitutes anger. A wonderful illustration of these differences was described by Lutz (1990). In his study of the Ifaluk tribes of Micronesia, Lutz determined that these people had five different words to describe anger.


Why Study Anger Management?

Would you like to:

  • help others to control their anger?
  • run your own anger management consultancy?
  • offer anger management training?


  • learn techniques to control your own anger?

This flexible, distance learning course in Anger Management is just the course for you.


Enrol or Contact us Today

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Phone: (UK) 01384 442752, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752

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