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What Does An Anger Management Class Entail?

by Dr. Ari Novick November 6, 2015

On a daily basis we get phone calls from potential clients asking us what our anger management classes are all about? In some cases, the individual is looking for help because of a rocky situation at home or work. He or she lost their temper one too many times and a spouse, family member, friend or employer has asked them to take classes or else face consequences. In other scenarios, the client had a few too many cocktails and lost control at a restaurant, bar, or party and it’s a one-time incident that they are forever regretful for. Or, many times it’s a result of getting into it with a police officer, and now they have been court mandated to take a 4, 8, 10, 16, 26 or even 52 session program. Whatever the story is, the individual has to move forward to get their life back on track, and is not sure what they are about to get into. What exactly does this entail?

Anger is a natural reaction that we all experience just like happiness, excitement, fear or sadness. We all get angry, but it’s how we respond to the emotion that can determine the end result. Anger management is NOT about shelving this feeling, suppressing it and never getting angry. It’s about gaining new ways to better channel your feelings resulting in stronger, safer and more effective relationships.

Learning to identify what triggers you to get so angry is one of the first steps in getting it under control. Students start by asking themselves what types of people or events make them angry and take a look at how they have been responding. Are these reactions rational? How are they affecting those around you? In many cases, the way someone is handling their anger is the way they saw their parents’ role model it. If your dad or mom would fly off the handle whenever there was a bit of adversity, it’s understandable that you might have replicated the behavior.

However, there is no reason to live like this and we can retrain the brain by learning how to manage the triggers in a more effective manner. Students who take anger management classes learn skills in stress management, empathy, conflict resolution and assertive (not aggressive) communication. With motivation, adults can change at any age by learning techniques to relax and calm down in the eye of the storm. Anger Management techniques help us to think more clearly to find a reasonable solution to a problem, rather than losing control in a way that continuously causes negative repercussions.

In a group class, students can expect to come 1 or 2 times a week until they have attended about 10 – 12 sessions or the number they have been mandated by court. It’s a comfortable environment with about 6 -10 students per session. Each student has a workbook and the certified instructor will go through it from start to finish over these sessions, rotating through topics, having meaningful discussions and answering questions. Students can come to class whenever they can and when they have met their requirement, a Certificate of Completion is issued to show the court.

Our online classes are also designed for self-improvement purposes and to fulfill court requirements. We suggest that all our clients get prior approval from their judge, probation officer or social work, to take a distance-learning course for their particular court mandate. It’s perfect for people who can’t make it to the weekly classes due to work schedules, health issues, transportation or financial restraints. The online classes cover the same topics that we cover in our group classes, but the student takes it privately, on their own schedule. A Certificate of Completion is instantly available to download at the end of the class and we put the hard copy on the mail to you. Either way you to choose, you will learn new skills that you can employ for a more positive and successful outcome in every aspect of your life!

Is Online Anger Management Training For You?

by Dr. Ari Novick October 12, 2015

According to a recent study by researchers at Columbia, Duke and Harvard Universities, about 22 million adult Americans have compulsive anger issues.  These issues are defined as out-of-control, explosive and destructive reactions to life’s daily conflicts.  Are you beginning to feel like you have become a part of this statistic?  Do you have episodes of anger that threaten your relationships?  Have you been told by others or noticed on your own that it’s getting more difficult for you to control your negative feelings? Has it reached the point that law enforcement has been called in because someone close to you has been afraid of your explosive reaction?  Whether it’s now become a legal mandate, you are choosing to make a change as an ultimatum from a partner or friend, or you can just want to learn how to simmer down, anger management classes either in person or online can help. 

Taking a look at the world around us, it’s apparent that workplace anger, domestic violence, and road rage are all less tolerated than ever.  While there may have been a time 20 or 30 years ago when a riled up angry boss might have been overlooked, lightly reprimanded or referred to therapy, now most companies would document the bad behavior for termination.  On the home front, once law enforcement is called out on a domestic violence accusation, many jurisdictions require the officers to bring the perpetrator in.    It’s just not worth taking the chance of dismantling your family life or career over something that is under your control.  The purpose of anger management classes is to teach you to control your emotional responses by learning new skills to better utilize your energy to resolve conflict in a better, more appropriate and professional way. 

If you are the kind of person who likes to be work in group settings to hear other people’s point of view and stories, and contribute your own experiences, then weekly-organized sessions are the way to go.  However, if you are looking for privacy, expediency or flexibility, then the online option would be a better choice.   Some clients falsely think that that this means a weekly class led by an instructor, taken via SKYPE.  Actually, our online programs are designed to simply read through at your own pace.  Once registered, our students log in to the class whenever they have free time and spend a few minutes or a few hours reading through the educationally based material.  This can be done from any WIFI connected computer device so you have the option to sit in the comfort of your own home at your PC or laptop to learn, or from your Smartphone while you are waiting for your child to finish soccer practice.  You can log on and off 24/7 so you get to determine how quickly you go through the class.  

Getting a harness on your anger now will benefit you for the rest of your life.  You can learn cutting edge anger control techniques as presented by a licensed psychotherapist and certified anger management Instructor without the hassle of driving miles away, missing work or family time.  The tools are available, now it’s up to you to utilize them! 

Workplace Anger Management Classes Benefit Employees At Every Level Of The Corporate Ladder

by Dr. Ari Novick May 8, 2015

Did you know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2 million people in the U.S. are victims of workplace violence each year? This is defined as any physical violence, or harassing and threatening type of verbal abuse. With this statistic in mind along with the daily dose of anger management issues we hear about in the news each day, more and more companies are signing their employees up to take workplace anger management training courses. In some cases, the HR department is working proactively to help prevent major issues from arising while others are trying to cover themselves from future potential lawsuits. Whatever the reason, corporate anger management classes can improve your company’s reputation, improve moral and absenteeism, reduce daily interruptions due to social problems among employees and reduce your exposure to liability and litigation.

The truth is that anger control issues in the workplace can happen at any time but can be diffused and often prevented if employers know how to effectively communicate with employees, and employees have the tangible skills to gain control of their overall stress and anger levels. Studies show that companies that spend the time and initial expense to screen applicants carefully with background checks, and train supervisors to recognize and know how to defuse disputes, greatly reduce overall corporate costs.

Corporate anger management training programs teach staff at every level the skills they need in effective listening and communicating, improved empathy, ways to handle and calm hostile individuals, stress management techniques, impulse control, conflict resolution skills and how to manage expectations of others. Students are introduced to calming techniques that they probably have never instituted, even the basic ones like removing themselves from a heated discussion to go for a quick walk in the fresh air, and taking deep breaths and counting before answering.

To immediately begin creating a safer work environment, there are a few key items to start with that include:

1. Listening closely to your employee’s comments. Sometimes potentially violent individuals will drop hints of upcoming intentions to their co-workers. Tell all employees to report any aggressive or unbalanced behavior they observe.

2. Model and promote respect and a positive attitude on a daily basis. Take the time to say hello to others, show interest in them and speak considerately to everyone you interact with.

3. Institute a team spirit so no one feels alienated. Create a work environment that is inclusive and supportive of each and every employee no matter what level they are in the company. Rejection can often be the catalyst behind an angry act.

4. Create a plan to get employees out of harms way in case of emergency. Know who will contact authorities, what the back up is and the easiest route of escape.

Corporate training programs can be taken with a live instructor that comes to your facility for seminars or through online programs. Many corporations have offices throughout the country and enjoy the ease and convenience of allowing their employees to take a single consistent program from any Internet connected computer device at any time of day, either at home or in the office. Human resources can monitor the employee’s progress and success in the class and the student receives a Certificate of Completion when the course is successfully finished.

How Can An Online Anger Management Class Help Me?

by Dr. Ari Novick April 28, 2015

Why has the court mandated that I take an anger management class? It was a one-time incident that will never be repeated and this is just overkill. We hear various versions of this same question week after week from frustrated clients who don’t have another moment in the day to participate in mandatory classes. It’s stories like a television set was thrown across a room to try to get a spouse’s attention or a cell phone at boyfriend in the heat of an argument and someone called the police. While the one time event plea might be true for some, for many of our clients this is just the one time that the law has finally been called in. The defendant has actually spent years displaying this behavior but just doesn’t see the problem in himself. The reality is that anger affects those around you quite deeply and can make co-workers, family and friends feel stressed, intimidated, scared and downright upset.

There is actually a wealth of research that shows that while an individual may have developed certain unproductive behavior patterns, with dedication and practice, a person can learn to change the way they respond. That being said, the reason to take an anger management class is to build new skills to improve relationships, redirect the path your life has taken and to become a more emotionally balanced individual. Taking court mandated classes online is the solution for those clients that really can’t miss work, have health issues that keep them at home, or don’t have transportation to get to the weekly classes.

The truth is that living an angry life is a choice that can be reevaluated and changed. In classes, students learn to identify what situations trigger the feelings, how to calm down before responding, and most importantly how to communicate effectively to resolve the conflicts that cause the angry reaction. Sound good? It is. In order to have a healthier discussion with a spouse, child, co-worker or friend that is causing you grief, people who have learned how to control their anger and negative impulses, understand the following concepts to have a more constructive discussion:

1. The other person isn’t always wrong. It’s not always a debate where one person is right and the other isn’t. Look at the other individual as an equal to come to terms with.

2. Don’t expect mind readers. You can’t expect that the person you are upset with can interpret your feelings or has the ability to read between the lines. It’s up to you to respectfully and openly communicate what you think in a calm tone.

3. Stay focused on the topic at hand. Don’t reach back to old grievances but stay specifically on the current issue. Going off on tangents just contributes to an ineffective discussion.

4. Listen to the opposing view. Don’t interrupt or tune out while you are mentally putting together your next response. Put yourself in their shoes and try to empathetically understand where they are coming from.

5. Forgive. Holding grudges won’t get you anywhere. It does not show weakness to forgive, but instead an openness to move forward. No one says that you have to forget the grievance, but put it behind you and move ahead.

Changing Your Self-Talk Can Help Reduce Chronic Anger

by Dr. Ari Novick April 1, 2015

Most of us would agree that anger doesn’t feel good. It can make us feel hot and sweaty, put our stomach in knots, make our body start to tremble and our thinking turn to a hazy fog. When we finally calm down, emotional and sometimes even physical damage is done and we wonder how we possibly created such a mess! The lack of control may have resulted in trouble with the law, employer or family and friends and the person is done living this way, ready to make a change.

In many instances, the way a person deals with his or her anger was learned from their childhood. They observed how their caregiver’s handled stress, obstacles and irritations and followed suit. The good news is that learned behavior can also be unlearned with desire and commitment. We can develop new ways to handle our angry behavior and get our lives back by interrupting and changing the ingrained negative response. We can gain the knowledge and power to choose a more positive outcome!

Change starts from within and most anger management classes emphasize that developing a more positive attitude can help to more constructively deal with daily life. This starts with changing the way the individual thinks about and frames things in his own mind. For example, instead of imagining that someone deliberately cut him off on the freeway because that person is self-centered, the thought would be that maybe that person simply didn’t see him. Or instead of feeling constantly overwhelmed that he can never get his desk cleared of work, take a look at everything that was accomplished that day.

Other simple ways to reduce chronic anger include:

1. Improve organization. Take time the night before to iron work clothes, prepare lunches, remind the kids to put everything in their backpacks by the front door, and have your phone charged to help alleviate morning stress.

2. Wake up 10 minutes earlier than the rest of your family. Take this time to meditate, think about the day ahead, stretch and relax before everyone else jumps out of bed.

3. Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever. It leads to improved health and self-confidence, which in turn makes a happier person.

4. Don’t skip meals. Keeping the body fueled also helps maintain emotional balance and blood sugar levels. Eating a healthy breakfast can change your outlook on the entire day.

5. Count your blessings. Take a few minutes each morning to acknowledge all that you have.

6. Do at least one thing to help someone else each day. This can include a simple compliment, donating money, volunteering in your child’s classroom, physically assisting an injured person or someone elderly through the heavy glass doors and to the elevator, stopping to help someone with directions, giving an employee a second chance or picking up some groceries on your way home from work to alleviate the chore for your spouse. Giving to others is fulfilling and boosts energy and positive feelings.

When you change your negative self-talk and replace it with positive, energy boosting behaviors, you will see a noticeable drop in your level of anger.

Online Anger Management Classes for Kids Teach Important Life Skills

by Dr. Ari Novick March 17, 2015

Having a child that is prone to tantrums and angry outbursts can be exhausting and distressing for any parent. As the child gets older and the behavior doesn’t change, caregivers might start to get angry themselves, which can add fuel to the fire. However, it’s important to realize that although you have lost your patience, role modeling calm, respectful and clear thinking is the best thing you can do to help your child learn how to handle their anger. Years of studies show that it’s important to catch angry behavioral patterns early before bad habits set in and the risk for violent behavior in adulthood increases. Children who are on this path include ones that often argue with their parents, blame others for their mistakes, are spiteful or vindictive, bully others refuse to follow rules or direction from adults and chronically lose their temper.

Teaching your children new ways to better handle their behavior can be challenging but is a hugely important life skill that will help them to experience a happier, more successful and well-balanced adulthood. Online or in-person anger management classes starting as young as 11 years old or 1-1 therapy even earlier can help set your child on a more constructive path. In order for caregivers and parents to begin the process with the child, the first thing is to identify what is triggering the outburst. Just like with adults, for children it may have to do with low self-confidence, a lack of friendships, anxiety about situations going on around them that they can’t control like divorce, or failure at getting something they want or need.

Some things that parents can start doing at home immediately to help the child respond differently include:

1. Help them verbalize their emotions and label their feelings. It’s okay to get angry, we all do, but instead of bullying others or getting all worked up into a tantrum, get them in the habit of explaining how and what they feel. Teach your child to say “I’m frustrated because I have to stay inside and clean up my room while all my friends are playing outside” instead of slamming doors, throwing things or yelling at you about it. Give them the attention they need to have a reasonable discussion about their feelings. Don’t respond to unreasonable behavior.

2. Positive reinforcement. Often children act up because it’s the only time they can get any sort of attention from the caregiver. Stop this tactic in its tracks by responding in a positive way to good behavior. For example, “You were really well behaved while I spoke with the teacher about your homework” or “I like the way you put your toys away. Now your room looks beautiful!”

3. Take a time-out. Teach them it’s okay to give himself or herself a breather from a bad situation by developing an alternate response. They can go into another room, outside in a safe place, go on the trampoline, take a shower, or walk to a different part of the playground until they calm down.

4. Get them moving. Studies show that physical activity can really help kids with anger issues. Encourage them to get involved in a sport they are interested in like swimming, tennis, soccer, basketball or karate. If you don’t have the time for organized sports, go running or bike running together; take them out to the park to play on the equipment or anything to physically burn off energy.

Learning Assertive Communication Skills Can Reduce Your Anger

by Dr. Ari Novick March 4, 2015

The years leading up to a divorce can be filled with raging arguments or in many cases unnatural quiet as each partner retreats due to the ongoing conflicts. A common communication problem that can ultimately lead to anger management issues is expecting other people to just know what you are thinking or trying to read other people’s minds. Some individuals don’t have the proper skills to express themselves in an effective way so they both shut down and let their anger brew in their head, or lash out in an aggressive or violent way. To avoid divorce, couples can learn the art of how to have a calm, respectful conversation full of give and take. It’s is a life skill that is beneficial in school, with friends and family and throughout your career.

The term is assertive communication, a way of presenting your thoughts and ideas for the most positive outcome. Individuals who aren’t proficient in this area can end up depressed, resentful of those around them, feel taken advantage of, frustrated at what is happening in their life and an increase in hostility and anger. The good news is that assertiveness skills can be learned by attending anger management classes, taking an online program, with 1-1 therapy or by reading books dealing with this topic.

Some basic points include:

1. Speak in a clear and organized manner so there’s little room for misinterpretation. When you want your child to take out the garbage before dark say “Will you please take the garbage out before dinner?” instead of “Would you mind taking out the garbage?”

2. Face the person you are speaking with and speak with a calm, even tone. Your body language tells the other person that you are serious about what you are saying. If you are screaming from another room, there’s a good chance you will be ignored.

3. Keep your statements about you. For example, say “I’d appreciate it if you would take the garbage out before dinner” instead of “You never take the garbage out on time!” Remember your thoughts and emotions are yours; don’t put them on the other person.

4. Avoid speaking to someone else in a judging way. For example, instead of “You are so lazy and never get the trash out on time!” you could say, “The trash is picked up by the city every morning at 4 a.m. If you take out the trash before dinner we will be sure the chore is taken care of prior to pick-up.”

5. Once you have made your point in a respectful and understandable way, take the time to listen to the response. The more you show others that you are interested in their point of view, the more they will be open to yours. You can do this by saying, “Please tell me more about what’s going on?” Or “I’d like to know your take on this subject.”

The better you are at rationally communicating your feelings, the more respect you will receive from others. This change in your social dynamic will make others want to engage you in conversation, hang around you and even seek your guidance. You can rebuild broken or lost relationships and improve your life by learning and implementing new anger management skills.

Managing Anger and Stress For A More Well-Balanced Life

by Dr. Ari Novick February 14, 2015

Anger and stress often go hand-in-hand. They are both normal experiences that we all have but it’s the way that we approach the feelings that determines if we are handling them in a healthy or unhealthy way. Each of us interprets events in a different light. For example, one person might look at someone else who cuts in front of them in line at the supermarket as being inconsiderate and hostile towards them, while another person might just think that the person didn’t realize there was a line. The first person might respond by getting angry and commenting in a hostile tone therefore causing a scene while the 2 nd person might politely and calmly explain to the line-cutter what he or she has done. While it’s unrealistic to think that we can prevent ourselves from ever getting angry and stressed, we can manage how we respond.

To start to tackle anger and stress management issues for overall improved quality of life, it’s helpful to take a close look at what is causing the negative emotions. Is it always the same thing? For example, are you constantly showing up late to work or activities because of too much traffic? Is a difficult friend, family member or boss creating unnecessary drama? Or, is your child ignoring your direction? Once you have identified the causes, you can move forward by taking a group anger management class or one online to help you get a better understanding of how to make a significant life change.

The next step is to take action and apply these new skills to everyday life. This starts with understanding that your knee-jerk reactions to situations are only making things worse. Specifically, the people around you are walking on eggshells, are afraid of you, don’t want to be around you, all of which is contributing to a breakdown in relationships, and trouble at work. You can and should control your impulses and instead react to an upsetting situation or person by taking a deep breath and removing yourself from the area. This means going for a walk in the fresh air, exiting to the break room to make some tea or to the kitchen to have a healthy snack until you have calmed down. If time allows, share your feelings and worries with a counselor or friend for some feedback and just to get it off your chest before taking any direct action.

When you are ready to reenter the stressful or anger provoking discussion express yourself in a calm, respectful and constructive way. As you know by now, yelling, getting red in the face and/or violent increases the negativity and rarely resolves the conflict. Realize that you can’t control everything, so the best you can do is to listen or observe the other side of the story closely, explain where you are coming from and then work at finding a satisfactory middle ground. In the example of the line-cutter, you would explain that you have politely been waiting behind the person in front of you for 10 minutes and would appreciate if they would be so polite as to take their place at the back of the line.

If you are feeling particularly stressed out or angry, it helps to also take a look at how well you are taking care of yourself. If you’ve been drinking a lot of caffeine, not getting enough sleep, and eating unhealthy foods, you will inevitably become less tolerant and more anxious. Work on changing these negative habits and replacing them with a little exercise, more water and going to bed at least 30 minutes earlier each night. Utilizing a combination of research based anger and stress reduction skills will help you to reduce tension and create a more well balanced life.

Renew Your Outlook On Life With Anger Management Training

by Dr. Ari Novick February 6, 2015

A large portion of our students come to us to learn skills in how to control their angry behavior because they can see it’s becoming a problem at home. There’s a disconnect in the marriage because the spouse has become detached and stopped listening to the hysteria and the kids are beginning to show signs of stress. In one recent situation, the dad didn’t realize how bad he had gotten until a concerned teacher contacted him directly to tell him how anxious his son had become in class during the last couple of months. While discussing the behavior, the father realized that it coincided with his increased frustration and anger with work and that he was venting at home. He knew it was time to make a change, probably a new job, and some soul-searching on his end to improve the way he’s handling every day life. In another situation, the parent reached her limit with her toddler over the holidays and lost it at a shopping mall. Someone witnessed the scene and called the police. As a result, the court ordered her to take anger management and parenting classes.

Neither scenario is rare. Anger is actually one of the most common problems in relationships. When it begins to escalate, particularly towards the children, it’s time to get help. Research time and again has shown that chronic anger, even if it seems harmless or meaningless to you, does cause lasting damage to the developing brains of young children. Children who repeatedly witness anger, verbal abuse or physical violence tend to initially exhibit symptoms like:

1. Depression – loss of interest in friendships and fun things that used to make them happy. This can also manifest itself in insomnia or too much sleep.

2. Problems at school – won’t do homework, no initiation to study for tests, disruptiveness during class time, won’t sit still or has become quiet and withdrawn, and/or exhibits nervousness and fear.

3. Increased anxiety – is worried about going home at the end of the school day, is nervous about how the parent will respond in front of other people, is fearful of own safety.

4. Exhibit low confidence – the child is insecure and feels inadequate and powerless. He or she feels like he has to walk on eggshells at home and can’t do anything right which translates into low self-esteem.

5. Become less empathetic – the child is in a toxic environment in which communication is unhealthy and they aren’t being shown the love they need. In order to protect themselves, they put up walls and tend to be less caring of others and more distant.

Learning to effectively deal with your anger is an important life skill that can turn your family life around and help to set your kids on track to thrive. The choice is yours. Our students who take the time to learn new tools and utilize them become more patient and calm when dealing with life’s daily bumps. The end result is often a renewed positive outlook for the entire family.

Learning Empathy Helps To Decrease Uncontrolled Anger

by Dr. Ari Novick January 26, 2015

The headlines are full of stories about angry people taking to the streets in protest, vocalizing their disappointments via social media or tragically hurting others to make their feelings known. Angry verbal and violent events happen in homes and in the workplace across the U.S. all the time. The recent angry protests surrounding the Michael Brown case show that a large part of the population in Ferguson feel like they are misunderstood and powerless. While a certain level of anger is appropriate and common to everyone, it’s when you can’t stop yourself from taking revenge in the form of screaming, violence or looting that you need to take a look at how you are handling the stress and aggravations of daily life.

People who are successful leaders or good managers or have strong marriages all have one thing in common – they are able to put themselves in another person’s shoes to help resolve conflict. They can look past their own needs and although they may not agree with it, they can hear and understand another person’s perspective. It’s a peaceful process of discussion and negotiation to arrive at a compromise or sometimes to even “give in” and go along with the other perspective. We see examples of this when two people have been in a relationship for many years. One partner might not be naturally neat or organized, but can see why the other partner gets mad when the house is a mess. They have empathy for the other’s feelings and try to clean up to make the relationship run more smoothly.

People who grow up with caring parents will from a young age unconsciously see that their parents are kind and understanding of others. As the child grows up he or she often chooses to copy this modeling because it feels good and helps them get along with friends and at school. However, you don’t have to be born into an empathetic family to gain this skill. Even people who have grown up in broken or violent homes can learn why social awareness is important and how to increase the ability to listen and communicate empathetically with others. Essentially, empathy is a skill that can be learned and developed over time.

Taking an anger management class, working with a mentor or therapist, or reading books on the subject can help you to retrain your thinking to eliminate harsh judgment of others. In the example of Ferguson, individuals with this empathetic concern would never have looted the innocent shops in the area, instead putting themselves in the shopkeeper’s shoes to realize they had nothing to do with the ruling.

To teach empathy, research shows that people often feel more closely tied with others that are similar to them. Part of the discussion is to identify commonalities you have with another person. For example, you are both fathers, both like sports or both have stressful jobs. Take a look at a particular situation that makes you mad, and discuss how it would feel to be the other person. What could they be thinking? The more you are able to humanize the person you are angry with, the more empathetic you will become. Gaining the tool of empathy will help control your level of anger and stabilize your emotional life.

About the author

Ari Novick, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Anger Management Professional and trainer.

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