Understanding by f2gfdPJ4



Why do I get angry so fast? Why do people bug me so I explode? How
can I teach them to leave me alone so I could deal with/enjoy my anger?
How can I convince my limbic system that my cortex actually has
something worthwhile to contribute? What role does early childhood have
to do with my anger? How about my pot smoking - it can't have any
impact! You can't control my anger but can I? If you're getting angry
reading this, this workshop may be for you... NOTE: This workshop was
designed by angry students!

Presented by:
David Rattray Aboriginal Counsellor S.D. #60 (Peace River North)
Fort St. John, B.C.
Ph: 250-785-8324 Fx: 250-785-0846
e-mail: drattray @prn.bc.ca

                    TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.   What Happens When You Explode in Anger !@#$%&!!...

2.   What Does/Does NOT Work When I'm Angry

3.   Developmental Stages

4.   Antisocial Behavior...

5.   The Brain

6.   Anger Sequence

7.   Strategies to Deal With Explosive Anger
           1. A Philosophy To Live and Die For
           2. Things I Should Know About Anger
           3. Who‟s Field Are You On
           4. Stop – Think – Act – Reflect
           5. Hand Signals
           6. Restraint

8.   Anger Scenarios

9.   Group Counselling on Anger – Approach & More Strategies

1. Circle Talks - Separate handout

2. Conflict Resolution - Separate handout

3. Meditation - Separate handout

      1. What Happens When You Explode in
       Anger !@#$%&!!...

  If you are someone who explodes very quickly when you get angry, several things
  are probably happening. You respond to something (stimulus) very quickly, and
  the response is very angry:
                                                     The limbic system which is
                                                     the emotional part is in
                                                     control during, and
                                                     immediately following the
                        'SPLIT SECOND!"              split second - your immediate
Something happened      (From time something         response is commonly anger
                        happens until you respond)   violence or running away

                                       You respond in ANGER! for a second or more...

                              R                 A voice, feeling, or pictures
                                                often warn you to STOP

                                                After the initial emotional outburst,
                                                a 'voice/feeling/picture' = cortex
                                                may ask/warn you to stop being so
                                                angry or violent... "Stop/don't go
                                                down there!" Sometimes you are so
                                                angry you don't hear/feel/see it.

     IF you DO listen, you switch               IF you DON'T listen, you continue
     between your emotional self and            with your emotional being - often
     rational self = involve cortex, and        creating more anger which easily
     often can deal with the anger in           gets out of control for a much longer
     positive ways                              time period. The anger gets
                                                bigger!!! = not involving the cortex

      What Happens When You Ignore the Voice/Feeling/Picture:
       Your anger grows huge in a 'couple of seconds'
   Anger explodes inside of you
   Violent thoughts of punching, hurting, or killing...
   Violent actions including yelling, swearing, hurting self or others, crying,
    invading space of others, throwing things...
   Sometimes blackouts occur where you don't remember anything

After the Anger Decreases:
 Feelings of guilt
 Physically drained
 Crying
 Blaming self
 Regret saying things you did not mean
 Sometimes feel good - "justified anger"

Negatives After Anger:
 Did something you regret
 Hurting of others
 Hurt self sometimes
 Breaks up friendships

Positives After Anger:
 Releases pent up anger/frustrations
 Let others know how you felt
 Can analyze your anger
 Can learn from anger

Things You Should Know About Anger:
 You have been responding to anger in an explosive way for many years
 You don't like it when adults/others try to boss you around
 Once the anger decreases, many of the things you may have said, or thought,
  you don't really believe - you said them to hurt someone else, often because
  you were hurting
 Anger is an emotion that can be controlled.....

2. What Does/Does NOT Work
 When I'm Angry
                      Immediately after I explode

          Strategy                         Why It Doesn't Work
    Shouting                     Increases my anger
    Counselling                  I'm not ready to analyze/talk
    Grabbing/holding me          I can't stand people touching me
    In my face                   I need space
    "Are you O.K.?"              Of course I'm not O.K., I'm angry!
    Talk to me like I'm          I'm not retarded, what I am is full of
     retarded                      anger
    Using authority              I hate all forms of pressure/authority
    Being nosey                  Someone sticking their nose in!!!!
    Staring at me                What you gawking at?
    Lots of 'little things'      Very annoying!
                                  = Give me space & time!

                      "Some time" after I explode

          Strategy                        Why It Doesn't Work
    Keep bring up my             I know I did wrong, why 'rub it in my
     inappropriate                 face'?
     behavior                     I don't like being reminded
    Alcohol/drugs                Gets you too down
    Suspensions                  Like an extended holiday
    Giving me static             Lectures are tiresome
    Sent to the office           The office can only do so much

     Strategies that work - in the short & long term:

   Humor
   Loud music
   Slamming doors releases pent-up frustration/rage
   Screaming
   Being alone
   Cigarette
   Alcohol/joint - helps in the short-term but not in the long run
   Let me walk out of the room
   Let a friend go with me so I can talk and cool down (agreed 'friend' can
    often change on a regular basis) = Go with someone I respect, and
    respects me, so I can talk

Strategies that work after I cool down:

   The above
   Counselling - where I get to express myself and try to sort out the issues
   Consequences - when I agree they are appropriate
   Saying I'm sorry - when I'm ready

    3. Developmental Stages
Studies have shown that people develop certain functions during critical periods.

   Critical Periods for Some Aspects of Brain Development and Function

 Ways of

 Peer Social

               0    1    2     3      4       5      6      7    8   9     10

                                          AGE (Yrs)
                               Critical period for development
                               Critical period wanes
                               Very limited to no development

                   (Based on Early Years Study – Final Report)

  How early the brain develops
  How by age 5-10 many brain functions/ responses are developed
  Implications for teenage behaviors = patterns set early in life
  Habitual response to anger learned by 7 years old!

   Study after study indicate the following ‘trends’:
  There are „critical‟ time periods for the development of all (?) functions
  Much/all of the critical time periods occur in the first 2 to 3 years of life, with
   much happening in the womb
  Once the critical time periods for brain development have passed, it is
   possible, for some functions, to be developed but not to the brain‟s „full
  Much of a „person‟s outlook on life‟ is set by age 5-7-10
  Brain development is highly vulnerable to environmental factors, from a very
   early age
  Brains get „wired‟ from experiences and responds to those experiences in
   certain ways
  Negative experiences early in life have a profound impact on a person that
   are difficult to overcome later in life
  Loneliness, anger, etc. develop very early in life, as does a person's "typical"
   way of responding

4. Antisocial Behavior...
  Rutter has reviewed several longitudinal studies on criminal activity and
   antisocial behavior of youth. He concluded that repeated criminal activity by
   youth often has its roots in disruptive behaviors in preschool = end up in
   prison, violent relationships, abusers, ...

Disruptive behaviors, on a consistent basis could include:
    bullying
    fighting
    lying
    negative view of school
    sent to the office consistently
    lack of friends

   Much of this has to do with a lack of a sense of belonging - which can carry
   through to adulthood.

    5. The Brain
The brain has four lobes:

The brain can also be divided into three parts - triune brain:
 R-complex - the part which deals mainly with self-preservation and
  preservation of the species. It contains 'programs' responsible for hunting,
  homing, mating, establishing territory, and fighting
 limbic system - deals with emotional feelings that guide behavior
 cortex - problem-solving, thinking, memorizing device which includes most of
  our human qualities such as language, reason, symbols, culture...

    The Limbic System
 deals with experience and emotions and as such is our 'emotional brain'
 consists of several different components, all of which have their own
 is the central processing unit of the brain that deals with information received
  from events, memories of events and emotional associations to these events
 experience of emotions goes back and forth between the frontal lobes and the
  limbic system
 when a person experiences a stimulus, the limbic system is the first to respond
  (in other words, it responds before the cortex, which is the rational part of the
Here are a few components of the limbic system, with their main functions:

COMPONENT                                   FUNCTION
Amygdala               gatekeeper to the limbic system
                       information is passed to the amygdala from the
                        sensory areas (vision, sound, touch, taste and smell)
                        areas of the brain and sends the messages to other
                        parts of the limbic system to produce emotional
                       where fear learned from experience is stored
                       the amygdala discerns the emotional significance of
                        the stimulus and what kind of response is necessary
Hippocampus            acquisition of new memory traces in the brain
                       converts short term memory into long term memory
Hypothalamus           Is a control center with 3 major outputs:
                       Sends hormonal and neural signals to the pituitary
                        gland - which acts as the switch for the endocrine
                       Sends commands to the autonomic nervous system
                        which controls various bodily functions including
                        sweat, blood pressure, heart rate, etc
                       Drives actual behaviors (4 F's = fight, flee, feed and
                       = 'survival center'

                                                                   All of this
                      STIMULUS                                     occurs in a
                                                                   'split second'

     Stimulus taken in by appropriate part of the                  IF this
     brain - sight, smell, hearing, tasting, feeling               pathway is
                                                                   used often, it
                Sent to the
                                                                   which causes
                LIMBIC SYSTEM
                                                                   the body to
                                                                   quickly and
  Amygdala - receives information and sends                        prevents
  messages to other parts of the limbic system                     many stimuli
  to produce emotional responses                                   from
                                                                   reaching the
                                                                   cortex, where
                                           Hippocampus             rational
  Hypothalamus                                                     thinking

                                                                   The limbic
Hormonal            Automatic              Remembers similar       system 'fast
signals to          nervous                situations and how to   tracks'
the                                        respond BUT doesn't     responses and
pituitary                                  remember things in      so a similar
                                           great detail - detail   stimulus
                                           stored in cortex =      results in a
                Drives behavior            needs time to access    "quick
                = Fight, Flee,             information             response" is
                  Feed, Sex
                                                                   and not a

      A person who has experienced many 'negative' experiences and
      responds in anger may:
        develop strong pathways through the limbic system and very little into
         the cortex.
        respond quickly and emotionally to stimuli = they do not 'stop and
         think' = live in an emotional world that often does not help them deal
         with problems.
        the limbic system (not the cortex) rules their lives
        What needs to happen is interventions, like counselling, which teach
         the person how to deal with situations in their lives. They need to
         develop stronger pathways between their limbic system and cortex...


             Limbic System




VERY Little information sent to Cortex if person responds in anger frequently & quickly
                       THE LIMBIC SYSTEM & CORTEX


      6. Anger Sequence
                                        TFT       A1 A2        CF
                                   (Before Acting)       (After Acting)

          Sequence                                         What Happens
Trigger                                An event happens which is received by the amygdala
- Someone says/does                     which causes the body to respond
  something                            Triggers can vary from person to person
- When I say no, someone               A trigger can be something very small. A person can
   explodes and so do I                 begin to get angry and they 'hold back' until something
- Demanding of me                       else happens and then the explosion occurs
Feelings                               A sense of anger, rage, hate, flows through the body -
- Body becomes tense                    very quickly consuming your being
- Hot - red in the face                Not allowing the mind to think rationally
- Want to lash out/in ward             Body becomes alert to flee or fight (physical or
- Overwhelmed emotionally               verbal) or...
Thoughts                               Different people have different thoughts
- Pain!!!                              People who get angry often think violence such as:
- I'm having a bad day, so             "I want to hurt someone" "I want to kill"...
  I'm going to wreck yours!            The angry thought grow/explode very fast, especially
                                        at the beginning of the anger
Action1                                Actions happen very quickly after the event occurs
- verbal or physical violence           ("split second' response)
                                       Actions usually violent - towards things, others, or self
                                       A very common response is verbal with as much
                                        "hate/anger/violence" as possible - to the extent what
                                        you are saying, you don't really mean
                                       You are responsible for your actions....
Action2                                This happens when you listen to the voice/feeling…
- verbal or physical violence           and STOP listening only to your amygdala = cortex
Consequences                           There are always consequences to an action but when
- Payment for your actions              you are violently angry, you don't care, if fact, the
                                        opposite often occurs: "I don't care, bring on the pain,
                                        I'm gonna pain you!" = No rational thinking
                                       Almost no type of consequence could penetrate the
                                        anger = limbic system in total control = raw emotions
                                       Consequences can include: guilt, physical and/or
                                        emotional pain, suspensions, groundings, having to
                                        say you're sorry, clean up mess, jail, etc.
Feelings                               Revisit feelings is critical because here is where we
- After the anger goes different        can begin to learn about what we did, how we felt,
  feeling may begin to surface          what we could try instead, etc.
                                       Students agree this is a critical step...

      7. Strategies to Deal With Explosive Anger
      1.    A Philosophy To Live and Die For

      Before we look at some of the strategies that may be useful, we need to
      look at some of the guiding principles we live by. Teachers stand a better
      change of success if they are able to find the reasons behind a disrespectful
      behavior. Once the behavior is understood, strategies can be utilized to help
      stop the disrespectful behavior.

1.    Know thyself, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
2.    Know the specific student – baggage, attitudes, etc, and what was
      effective/ineffective in the past.
3.    People are emotional beings. When the emotional envelope is large,
      analytical analysis does not work. Give them space.
4.    We must act in respectful manner at all times – even if others are not.
5.    Changing negative behaviors requires long-term effort.
6.    Teachers must model what they expect students to do.
7.    If a strategy doesn‟t work, first find the reasons why, then either modify, or
      stop the action, based on what was found.
8.    Being respectful to everyone will require treating people as individuals.
      This may require different treatments for the same observable behavior.
9.    People have different value systems and assumptions. Are the values and
      assumptions I use appropriate?
10.   There needs to be a „spiritual‟ component to our lives that is observable in
      the way we interact with people.
11.   We need to see the good in humanity and focus on it.
12.   Revisit all interactions at the end of the day to see what was effective and
      what was not. These „movies of the mind‟ are critical if we want to be
      successful as possible with students.
13.   Every student we work with must know we care for them as individuals.
14.   It is disrespectful to allow a student to be disrespectful.
15.   We must show love.
16.   Others????

          2.     Things I Should Know About Anger…
1.    Don‟t be threatened by a student‟s anger. Students know when they can
      intimidate with anger.
2.    Let choices and consequences shape the student. The consequence must be
3.    Don‟t preach. Often a short statement is all that is needed. If a student has a
      habit of getting angry and doing the same thing over and over, discuss
      strategies with the student – when they are not angry, as to ways of dealing
      with their anger.
4.    Distinguish between major and minor issues. Let the student know which is
      which. Even minor issues cannot be ignored, but often only a comment is
      all that is necessary.
5.    Share some of your experiences with anger with the students. Students need
      to know anger is a natural human emotion. What we are trying to do is
      modify unacceptable ways of expressing anger.
6.    Show how actions today create the person of tomorrow. Students need to be
      taught how, what they do today helps shape their future. Use this one
7.    Respond to anger in a quiet manner, almost never in anger. Two angry
      people create a fight, one angry person and one calm person often can
      diffuse a situation.
8.    Never let anger, in a disrespectful fashion, occur without commenting on it.
      Sometimes, if a student is extremely angry, it may be best to give the
      student space. If that is so, acknowledge what you are doing to the student.
9.    Never stop dealing with negative angry emotional outbursts. To stop sends
      a message to the student that you have given up. They don‟t like to receive
      that message. Teach them how to deal in a positive way with anger.
10.   When away from the storm, reevaluate all angry interactions to see how it
      can be handled differently next time.
11.   Dealing with an angry student should be seen as an opportunity to develop a
      strong relationship with that student. I must accept their anger – but I don‟t
      accept the negative ways they demonstrate it.
12.   Anger is one of many emotions. Help the student define their anger
      (emotions) in different terms.

      3.     Whose Field Are You On?
 Students/adults who get explosively angry have a well-used 'playing field' -
 IF we step on it, they know the rules, are pros, and will 'kick our butts".
 When people get angry, their main strategy is to fight on their 'turf'. We
 must develop our own playing field that can counter/ overcome theirs. Ours
 must have different rules:

      STUDENT'S              MY FIELD:
      FIELD:                  kindness
       anger                 respect
       verbal                love
       physical              belonging
       intimidating          don't accept
       etc...                 garbage

 The main objective is to help control someone's anger. That requires me to
 draw the person out of their playing field onto mine. All students who
 helped develop this workshop agreed this is a valuable approach to dealing
 with anger.

This is the most basic approach to dealing with explosive anger. When you
being to get angry, you must develop a strategy where you focus on stop
getting angry and THINK – what is going on? What can I do to stop myself?
Should I walk away? Etc. Only after thinking about a reasonable choice
should you act. Remember… thinking and acting are two different activities.
Thinking allows you to choose what you will do next. Your immediate
response (feeling and thinking) may be anger BUT you have the ability to not
act out in violence. If you do, you have a second chance to stop lashing out -
but by this time, it is often difficult to change your response into one which is
not as angry/violent, but you can do it! After acting, reflecting helps you plan
what you will do the next time. This is often difficult to start doing, but once
you begin it, you‟ll find it extremely helpful in controlling your anger.
The intent here is to move beyond the limbic system to give the cortex a
chance to give input into your next action.

         5.      Hand Signals
     When a student is exploding in anger, the first issue is the safety of all
     people in the area. When safety is ensured, the teacher raises both hands
     (about chest level, palms facing the student, may take a step backwards)
     and says, "I don't want to discuss it right now, you're angry. I'll talk to you
     later about this. Please calm down" Then the teacher shuts up! This does
     several things:
      the teacher sends the message that no one needs to fight,
      there is a respect for the person's anger - but not displayed in negative
      gives the student space, and time to calm down,
      there will be follow-up when no one is angry.
     All students who helped develop this workshop agreed this is an excellent
     way to help them deal with their violent behavior.

    6.        Restraint
     Should restraint be necessary, there are specific restraint holds that one
     might want to learn. In twenty years of working with students, I have never
     had to physically restrain a student. Why? Probably because of the
     relationships I developed with them.

After the initial anger has ‘subsided”…

8. Anger Scenarios….
     See next pages….

                  Dancing With Negative Peer Pressure
     A specific group of high-risk students are often involved in aggressive behaviors.
     This fosters more aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Punishing these youth does
     not work, all it does is reinforce their bonds, their need to stick together, their
     antagonism towards authority and so on.

     What is the desired outcome....
           to have the students change negative behaviors into culturally acceptable
           to be respectful to self and others

     Where am I during this situation? {Self-evaluation}

Spiritual                                 Mental

 Physical                                 Emotional


     Where Should I be?
      positive previous experiences....
      checking philosophy....}

                                            Physical                             Emotional

    Potential Solution....Empowerment
    {Does the solution fit with my philosophy....?}

Instead of punishing the students for their unacceptable behavior, find ways to
empower them in positive ways.

Action: {Overall action}                    Rationale:
Have the students come up with a            Reframing a negative attitude with a
project that will make the school a         positive one
safer place
Strategies:                                 Philosophical Underpinnings:
   Hold regular meetings                   a) find ways to relate to the youth in
   Recruit one/two adults to be                positive ways
     involved and present at all            b) take a group of youth with
     meetings                                   negative attitudes and have them
   Pick a name                                 go through a process of self-
   Mission statement/philosophy                discovery {which will involve
   Design a program that will                  internal struggles!}
     make the school a safer place          c) create belonging environments
   Present the program on a                d) meet their emotional needs
     regular basis                          e) by involving them in the
   Train other youth in presenting             'consequences', they are taking
     the program                                responsibility for their actions,
   Moving on to other projects....             eventually getting them to believe
                                               in the projects and themselves
                                            f) discovering personal beauty

Evaluation:                                 What Next?
1. Did the students complete the            Have the students come up with
   project?                                 other projects that will build on what
2. Did they have 'ownership'?               they have accomplished.
3. Did they become more positive in
   their attitudes/leaders?


                       Violent "Out of Control" Student
     A student 'gets out of control' and the teacher asks him to leave the room. He
     refuses, begins to swear and throw things. If you try to physically remove him, he
     will kick, punch and throw things at the teacher....

     What are the desired outcomes?
           to have the student stop swearing and throwing things
           to protect other students and property
           to have the student gain control of his emotions
           to 'reconnect' with the student after he has cooled down
           to help the student learn how to deal positively with his outbursts

     Where am I during this situation? {Self-evaluation}

Spiritual                                   Mental
                  attack       Irrational

                pounding       Stressed

 Physical                                   Emotional

                                                          Understand   Know
                                                          Empathy      what to

     Where Should I be?
                                                           Calm        Calm
                                                           body        Sensitive
      positive previous experiences....                    language
      checking philosophy....}

                                              Physical                              Emotional

    Potential Solution....High Interest Activity
    {Does the solution fit with my philosophy....?}

Students who are emotional/volatile to the point of being out of control, need to be
allowed to leave the room (go to the back of the class). The only positive way I
know of is to negotiate with them a very positive alternative.

Action: {Overall action}                    Rationale:
Find a way in which an 'out of              Safety issue and regaining control of
control' student can leave the class        self
Strategies:                                 Philosophical Underpinnings:
   What should happen when you             a) help him develop a clear plan of
     lose control?                             how he will leave the class
   Not leaving the class to get            b) help him learn how to diffuse his
     punished but to make sure no              anger
     one gets hurt                          c) offer a win/win situation
   High-interest activity (trains) to      d) he's not non-compliant because
     play with - out of the classroom          he wants to be
     or in the back - to calm down          e)
   Develop a clear plan on how he
     will leave the class, etc.
   Share plan with others
   Practice/role play when not
     angry or stressed
Evaluation:                                 What Next?
1. Is he leaving the classroom when         1. Have him make the choice when
   he gets angry?                              to leave the classroom (personal
2. Does he calm down when in the               control/etc.)
   other room?                              2. Have him verbalize when he's
3. Does he come back into the class?           starting to get upset and how to
4. Is the frequency of outbursts               diffuse his anger before it grows



     What is the desired outcome....

     Where am I during this situation? {Self-evaluation}

Spiritual                              Mental

 Physical                              Emotional


     Where Should I be?
      previous experiences....
      checking philosophy....}

                                         Physical           Emotional

     Potential Solution:
     {Does the solution fit with my philosophy....?}

Action: {Overall action}                     Rationale:

Strategies:                                  Philosophical Underpinnings:

Evaluation:                                  What Next?


9. Group Counselling
To:     School Staff

                       Re: Group Counselling Around Anger
Group sessions: Tue & Thurs 10:30 – Lunch (unless students need to go to class to get
homework) for 4 weeks. Starts March 4th

Goal:              Have students who are prone to anger attend a series of eight
                   classes on anger management
1. Students will learn about anger and how it impacts themselves and others,
2. Students will be taught strategies to deal more appropriately with their anger,
3. Students will help develop a workshop on anger that can be presented to other schools,
4. Students will develop a Personal Anger Profile.
                                                                Each Lesson
                          ‘Central’ Activities
   1       -   Group Building Activities                        Will Have
           -   Anger Cycle                                      These
           -   Signals/Triggers
           -   Circle Talks                                     Components:
   2       -   What Works/Doesn‟t Work When I‟m Angry
           -   Relaxation Techniques                            -   Circle Talks
   3       -   Anger Sequence                                   -   Snack
           -   Developmental Stages                             -   Physical activity
           -   Yoga/???? – more on relaxation techniques        -   Relaxation and/or
   4       -   Brain Research As Applied to Anger                   meditation
           -   Completion of above topics                       -   Continue
   5       -   Communication Styles                                 developing
           -   Empowerment/Personal Control                         Personal Anger
   6       -   How My Family Shaped Me                              Profile
   7       -   Emotional Intelligence Quiz                      -   Continue
           -   Emotional Intelligence                               developing
   8       -   Completion of above topics                           workshop
           -   Creation of a Life Statement                     -   Personal
                                                                    application of

                                   ANGER QUIZ

                                ACTIVITY                                YES   NO
 1.   You often lose your temper
 2.   You feel „touchy/edgy‟ or easily annoyed by others
 3.   You often get angry and resentful
 4.   You deliberately annoy people to „get them going‟
 5.   You find it easy to argue with adults
 6.   You feel spiteful and vindictive
 7.   You sometimes blame others for your mistakes or behaviors
 8.   You are aggressive in defying or refusing to do what adults ask
      you to do, along with not liking their rules

We will work on…..how can we help you not get so angry?

                    Why Do You Choose Anger….

                Do You Use Anger When You Want….                        Yes   No
 1. To manipulate those who are afraid of you
 2. A good excuse - „I couldn‟t help it‟
 3. To get your way – others would rather give in than
 fight your anger
 4. To avoid sharing your affections
 5. To break down communication when you are threatened
 6. To get attention – feel important
 7. To avoid hard, straight thinking
 8. To avoid losing
 9. To blame someone else instead of yourself
 10. To feel sorry for yourself
 11. To manipulate others with guilt
 12. To take the heat off yourself
 13. To put a boundary around yourself and warn people away
 14. To show people you are hurting
 15. To „just be left alone‟
 16. To hurt others like you are hurting
 17. To get out of work
 18. Because anger feels good – at least I feel something


             Anger/Rage Counselling Sessions - Update

- Explosive anger = RAGE – can appear to be instantaneous
- Often uncertain of „triggers‟
- Often come to school in a bad mood so easily triggered
- Once started on „anger trail‟ very difficult to stop
- Often major anger/pain/unhealthy ways of dealing with issues at home
- Very protective of „personal space/spirit‟ and willing to protect it aggressively
- Not afraid of/don‟t care about consequences the school system imposes
NOTE: These students need to be treated ‘different’ from other students because of their
emotional volatility


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is characterized by aggressiveness and a tendency to
purposefully bother and irritate others. To be diagnosed:….a pattern of negavitistic, hostile
and defiant behavior lasting at least six months during which four or more of the following
are present….often:

1.   Loses temper _____
2.   Touchy or easily annoyed by others _____
3.   Angry and resentful _____
4.   Deliberately annoys people _____
5.   Argues with adults _____
6.   Spiteful and vindictive _____
7.   Blames others for his/her mistakes or behaviors _____
8.   Actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests and rules _____

NOTE: In the elementary grades, ALL of these students should probably have been
diagnosed as ODD – but most/all would probably have not been for many different reason.

Please note: In this particular project, we are not diagnosing them as ODD – but we are
saying they „display‟ many of the characteristics of ODD students. This gives us some
direction as to working with them.

 What Causes ODD?

Not sure, but there are „commonalities‟ (not all apply to each person) with possible
- Biological: Born with temperamental difficulties, short attention spans, volatile
- Parenting: Ineffective/problematic parenting skills, tends to run in families
- Stress: At home or with friends „overflows‟ into the school


Traditional treatment approaches have „limited‟ success but are important components.
Helpful treatment/teaching could include:
- Pro-social skills
- Problem solving
- Role Playing
- Cognitive therapy
- Anger management
- Parenting/family training
- Behavioral therapy/modification
- Training teachers to deal with these types of students

These strategies usually have limited success because they are usually:
- Narrow focused when done in isolation
- Treatment environments are usually only in the school
- Not all the psychosocial risk factors are addressed


Comments consistently made by the students:
- Teachers „in my face‟ = any form of perceived authority
- “I hate being told what to do”
- Touching me when I‟m angry – even if it‟s done in a „respectful manner‟
- Talking too much
- Bad breath
- Repeating to me what they‟ve already told me
- Verbally threatening to send me to the office
- Looking at me as if I were „less than‟ or „some kind of freak‟
- Bothering me when they already know I‟m upset


Triggers       These students have „buttons‟ that are easily pushed
               Much of the time these students arrive at school with an „edge‟
               which can easily be triggered
               These students often don‟t know what their triggers are – they
               „just explode‟ and are unable to identify exactly what set them
Thoughts       As soon as a button is pushed they can easily move from a calm
               state into rage, bypassing all other emotions
               Thoughts like punch….throw something…enter their minds –
               but they are able to control the most socially unacceptable
               thoughts – such as kill…
Feelings       Their cortex (rational part of the brain) is quickly „hijacked‟ by
               their limbic system (emotional being) – this results in a
               physiological change in their bodies = heart rate increases,
               adrenaline surges through their bodies, they get ready to fight,
               and any „interference/confrontation‟ will be met with an
               outpouring of verbal and/or physical rage
Behaviors      Because they are in an „emotional state‟ they will react verbally
               and/or physically to „protect‟ their space/spirit/sense of self….
               They also can explode to avoid „consequences‟ as many people
               leave them alone when they get mad
Consequences   At the time, consequences are insignificant. They have no fear,
               don‟t care about what any consequences are. They need time to
               cool down before they can be talked to
Blaming        There are two types of people in this world (on a continuum):
Others         those who accept responsibility for their actions and those who
               blame others for what happens to them – these students are often
               near the blame side of the continuum = don‟t always accept
               personal responsibility. After they have cooled down and can
               discuss what happened, they sometimes can accept personal
               responsibility for their actions – but still harbor resentment….


  TEACHERS SHOULD TRY….                                 RATIONALE
Ask me to do something, don‟t tell      Very protective of personal space and how
me                                      they see it „invaded‟ is important to them
When I‟m angry, let me walk out of      When angry, these students are not „afraid‟
the room to cool down - without         of consequences – they‟ll challenge authority
being challenged                        and not care – at the time – about
Humor works when I‟m not angry but      These students „love a joke‟ when calm but
use it with caution when I‟m angry      any kinds of „incursions‟ into their space
                                        when they‟re angry has to be done very
VERY SHORT instructions such            These students go from „calm‟ to „explosion‟
as….”You‟re angry, we‟ll talk later”    instantaneously. When they get angry they
then leave me alone. Your tone of       „can‟t hear‟ – their rational minds are being
voice is extremely important as I‟m     emotionally attacked by their limbic system
emotionally charged and may misread
Please….read my body language           Sometimes I‟m too emotional and can‟t
                                        explain or tell you how I am feeling
When I‟m angry, don‟t stare at me       They feel their personal space is being
                                        invaded, even if the teacher is a ways away
Approach me calmly and gently           Any authority/aggression will be met with
remind me – politely/respectfully - I   lots of anger/rage – which serves no useful
need to take a time out                 purpose other than to get the student more
Watch to see if I‟m already angry       These students carry anger with them at all
from something that happened at         times and something earlier may have „set
home, on the way to school, in          them off‟
another class, etc.


These students:
- Are more than likely ODD
- Have anger always „bubbling just below the surface‟
- Will meet any perceived incursions into their space with hostility and aggression
- Love adrenaline rushes!!!!
- Are not afraid of the school system and its punishment/consequences
- Any intervention strategies must be undertaken by the whole school and will take a
   considerable amount of effort by all concerned
- Do not want to go through life with this kind of anger/pain – but have very
  few healthy strategies to help them along in life

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