How to choose a credible online (internet) anger management program
- Length of time in business. There are some companies that have been in business only 3-4 months and claim that they have thousands of customers. This is quite unlikely. Choose a program that has an established record of acceptances in all US states.
- Credentials. While there are no laws regarding online anger management programs it is important that the program’s curriculum be developed by individuals who are competent and has some credentials in mental health. I have had too many situations where probation officers, lawyers and even judges have called me to verify that I was a real person with real credentials. Online shoppers should beware of website that hide their identity and have no posted credentials relevant to mental health.
- Who accepts this program? Can the provider give any information on who has accepted the program?
- What if there is a dispute? It is now standard that all online anger management providers have Better Business Bureau accreditation. My advice is if there is no BBB accreditation, NEVER shop with this provider because if a problem arises the consumer has no recourse.
- What really are you purchasing? Many providers say that their program is online but most are PDF downloads to read. Truly online programs are interactive with narration. Anything else with frustrate and otherwise inconvenience the consumer.
There are a huge number of online anger management providers. My only advice is to choose wisely. The cheapest class may be more headache than you bargained for.
Dr. Carlos Todd
As a childhood witness to domestic violence, a mental health practitioner and a student of aggression in its various forms, I believe I have a unique insight into the mind of the batterer. I philosophy believe that some aggression is born out of fear, anxiety and an erroneous assumption that suppression is the only viable approach to human interaction. Therefore what I propose in this brief article will reflect my experience, philosophical and clinical perspective. I am therefore sharing what I perceive are beliefs batterers have that sustain the tyranny of abuse. This list is called the Domestic Batterer’s Manifesto.
- I am very afraid of failure of my own weakness, but the only way I know to ease that fear is to exert control over the closest ones to me. The truth is that because they are close to me, they present the greatest threat to exposing my weaknesses. I must keep them close enough to get my emotional and physical needs met, but far enough to avoid my feelings of vulnerability.
I fear that my partner can be more successful or even more powerful than I am, so to avoid the germination of this success, I will do all I can to block or even terminate any attempt at his/her success. I do this because my fragile self cannot handle the fact that he/she can have greater, or equal success to me
I isolate you because I fear that someone will clue you in to my weakness, and will expose me. To maintain my façade of power I just have to isolate you.
The reason why I tell you “If I can’t have you no one can”, is because I am too weak emotionally to deal with the idea that someone I gave myself to, could reject me. The very idea of this rejection is too much to take.
I give to you emotionally on loan, under the condition that you cannot reject anything that I give. To reject ANYTHING that I give is to reject me entirely.
- I respond with violence because I must use overwhelming force to hide the fact that I am really hurting and afraid.
I almost never physically hit the kids because they are not perceptive enough to present a threat to exposing my vulnerability.
I see the world in black and white: the strong and the weak. The only way I know to be strong is to intimidate, control and manipulate.
Never mind the fact that I am very weak and vulnerable. I am also quite dangerous because in my mind the world revolves around me. Any attempt to shape MY WORLD into something other than I have created, I therefore perceive as a threat to my existence. The only way I know to eliminate those threats, is to either take away the individuality of my partner by making him/her extensions of me, or worst, by eliminating his/her life.
Carlos Todd, PhD
True anger management demands that we recognize our emotions and consciously decide how we will act on those emotions. Emotions are fascinating because they are a way of communicating with the world, they give us clues about what we love, cherish and the things we have less regard for. Wrapped up in literally thousands of emotions is an emotional language that connects us with the world in meaningful ways. Who wants to be like the character Data on Star Trek–an emotionless being who lives only in the realm of logic? I certainly don’t.
It is emotions that bring the world to life, like the thermometer, they give us information regarding our reactions to life’s occurrences. Emotions have their own intelligence and are fascinating assisting humans in shaping their perception of the world. However, perceptions need to be analyzed first before making decisions. In the same way that one may feel warm and may check the thermometer to provide information on the temperature; emotions are also informational but we are in charge and responsible for our actions no matter what our emotions are.
In the indoor environment, if an individual perceives that the temperate is to hot or too cold the thermostat is a wonderful device that can be used to regulate the temperature to the appropriate level. This device gives us the control to determine if what we perceive physically is comfortable or uncomfortable. It is the same in the management of anger. When we perceive the our emotions it is individual’s responsibility to act as the thermostat does and regulate their emotions in a manner that does not violate the rights of others or cause self harm.
In the same way that being able to make the decision to change the position of the thermostat demands full awareness of the temperature I encourage clients who attend my anger management classes to become more aware of their own emotions by developing emotional literacy. This literacy is a first step to emotional intelligence and true anger management. The opposite is an individual who acts mindlessly on their feelings without any considerations that emotions are signals and not commands. Are your emotions informational or directives?
Carlos Todd, PhD
Sometimes if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck it may not be a duck. In the case of anger sometimes the appearance of aggression and hostility may not be anger. In fact, it may be a sign of profound grief and loss. In working with the angry I have noticed that a little investigation reveals that their anger is rooted in some trauma or loss of some kind. This feeling of loss promotes the following:
- A hypersensitivity that leads to misinterpreting the actions of others as disingenuous or hostile
- Fear of losing more in life which lead the individual to keep relationships superficial and reject the relationship at the first sign that they could be hurt.
- Isolation from others which may present as hostility or paranoia
- Overreaction (anger or aggression) to life events
- Overly critical and self-doubt
- Assigning blame for loss to self
- A general angry disposition that can be traced back to some major life loss or trauma
Chronic anger is almost always a mask for other emotions therefore it is very important that one recognizes that feelings of anger may be a sign of grief or loss. If this is the case, psychotherapy may be in order to address the grief issues which would likely over time resolve problems with anger.
Before I begin let me first say that when I speak about conflict in this article I am referring to any interaction where there are opposing viewpoints. Also, I do not consider conflict as negative. Now that is out of the way let me begin.
Timing is everything and sometimes it may not be the time or place to address that issue that is likely to create a conflict. Yup! I did say that there are times that you should avoid conflicts. Let me first say that I am an advocate for healthy conflict because in my experience such conflict can create a sense that each person in the conflict is free to grow while building a common collective agenda that is also good for all parties in the relationship.
However before one engages in a potential conflict, remember one important thing. When an individual react negatively in a conflict it is because of a feeling of disrespect not necessarily directly because of what you said or did. Therefore in any conflict the MOST important thing is to maintain respect. Individuals will respond positively to far more if they feel respected. What should be respected? I contend that there are three things to be respected when choosing to engage in or avoid a conflict:
- Respect the person’s physical time. Ensure that the time chosen to engage in the conflict is agreed upon time. For example the persons may decide to meet at 2 pm.
- Respect the person’s environment. Choose a place to engage in the conflict that fosters feelings of respect (not on the factory room floor in front of others)
- Be sensitive to the emotional time. Ensure that there is not an issue so emotionally draining going on in the person’s life that would distract them or increase their defensiveness when dealing with the proposed conflict.
In any conflict the parties involved want something for their effort. My contention is that if there is a focus on respecting others and an implementation of the three points I proposed we all can avoid conflict until it is most appropriate to engage.
Some years ago I wrote a series of articles titled, “Change Your Language Reduce Your Anger.” In those articles I introduced the idea that anger management can be achieved if we learn an emotional vocabulary. Since then, my position has not changed; in fact, it has grown stronger. The more I interact with angry individuals the more I hear confusion that anger often brings. The statement, “I don’t know why I feel this way” or “I don’t know what I am feeling” is often the refrain of the angry. In that context I become the interpreter of emotions. I seek to help the individuals find words to give their emotions a name. Naming their emotions helps to clarify the primary emotions that are driving the anger and meet their needs with a higher degree of precision.
My contention is that those who have a poor emotional vocabulary are likely to have more persistent anger management issues because they can’t adequate perceive, and name their own emotions. They are in effect in an automated cycle where their emotions are driving their actions but they have no control. They are in a kind of mental chaos where they do not have words to describe their own emotions. Without language it is almost impossible to meet their true emotional need. Think for a moment when human civilization was without a written and spoken language. We as a species were much more inefficient because of the challenges in communication. In the same way, humans who lack the vocabulary to precisely define and communicate their own emotions are bound to live a life disconnected from who they are and what they need. They will therefore make a series of life decisions that are not in line with their core desires which will lead to feeling disconnected, confused and angry at themselves and the world.
A good enough emotional vocabulary can bring about real change in the life of an individual because it will allow the individual to clear the fog of confusion, untangle the meaning of their emotions, bring precision and clarity and take them on the path towards meeting their emotional needs. A very easy way of understanding this concept is to think of one of those signals on the dashboard of the car. Most people know the check engine light and are able to take some action to investigate the cause of the problem however fewer people know the tire pressure light. Imaging seeing that light and not knowing what it is or what it means. The irony is that regardless of whether you know the meaning it will have some impact on your life especially if it is indicating that you will have a flat tire soon. However if you have the language to define the light as the tire pressure light one can take action. Without that language it gets much harder to take the appropriate action. The same is true with emotions. They are there to tell us something about who we are and what we need. If we don’t have the language to name these emotions there will be certain chaos and anger in that individual’s life.
I am therefore beginning a project called Emotional Vocabulary 101 in which I will tweet a new word every day. I am asking that you follow me on Twitter and Facebook and share any thought(s) you may have on that word of the day. Join us as we become more emotionally literate.
Carlos Todd, PhD
Anger is either situational or existential. In my work over the years I have found people present with anger management issues either because of a trigger event in their lives or because of more existential concerns.
It is easy to spot situational anger. The individual will describe one or a set of events in their lives that trigger anger and aggression. On the other hand, existential anger is more subtle. It involves the individual having lost meaning and purpose in their lives and hence he/she carries a deep sense of bitterness. This type of anger is pervasive across the individual’s home, community and work life.
While situational anger can be addressed with skill building work in anger management classes, addressing existential anger may require psychotherapy to discover the root(s) of this loss of meaning. Only a licensed mental health professional can make a competent assessment of which course of action is best.
Carlos Todd, PhD
Dr. Ralph H. Kilmann, CEO of Kilmann Diagnostics and coauthor of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict-Mode Instrument (TKI)
There are two kinds of “avoiding” to keep in mind: good avoiding and bad avoiding. Good avoiding is when you purposely leave a conflict situation in order to collect more information, wait for tempers to calm down, or because you’ve concluded that what you first thought was a vital issue isn’t that important after all. Bad avoiding, however, is when the topic is very important to both persons (and to the organization), but you aren’t comfortable with confronting other people: Instead, you’re inclined to sacrifice your needs for others—which undermines your self-esteem, leaves you perpetually dissatisfied, and prevents you from learning from others.
Bottom line: Only avoid when that approach to conflict serves to satisfy your needs as well as the needs of others—whether in the short term or long term. But don’t avoid conflict simply because that mode is unfamiliar or uncomfortable to you. With awareness and practice (which builds self-confidence), you can easily learn to get both your needs and the other person’s needs met—for the best of both worlds.
Kilmann Diagnostics offers five online courses: (1) BASIC Training in Conflict Management (an eighty-minute course), (2) ADVANCED Training in Conflict Management (an eight-hour course), (3) Culture Management Course (a six-hour course), (4) Critical Thinking Course (a six-hour course), and (5) Team Management Course (a four-hour course). These courses make expert use of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and other assessment tools. Since these courses are recorded, they can be taken on any day, at any time, and at your own pace. Get more information by visiting http://kilmanndiagnostics.com.
Dr. Ralph H. Kilmann, CEO of Kilmann Diagnostics and coauthor of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict-Mode Instrument (TKI) There are two kinds of “avoiding” to keep in mind: good avoiding and bad avoiding. Good avoiding is when you purposely leave a conflict … Continue reading