“Hi, I’m looking for Anger Management classes; do you guys run these…?"
The above question is one frequently asked here. As such we may conclude two things. Firstly, not only is there great demand for such courses; but secondly, there definitely exists a commonly held belief that anger can be adequately addressed en masse via a classroom format. Although I don’t know where this notion originates (films perhaps?); what I do know, is that in my personal and professional opinion, it cannot possibly be the best avenue to take. Let me explain…
I believe somebody’s anger (their presenting symptom) to be no different to another’s depression; phobia; anxiety; OCD; trauma; etc. Every symptom has an origin, and every origin is utterly specific to each individual. For just as one person’s depression has an origin wholly exclusive to them; the individual with anger issues will have their own entirely unique origin as well.
You wouldn’t (or I’d argue, shouldn’t) engage in an all-purpose depression class or a generic bereavement management course, of say, six sessions in a classroom. I personally find the idea of placing a bunch of people with anger management issues under one roof and throwing the same one-size-fits-all material at them, with the hope of achieving an optimal outcome; to be optimistic at best, and myopic at worst.
For as difficult as it is for me (from an entirely personal therapeutic standpoint) to comprehend the existence of these courses, I do get their appeal. To be able to sit amongst a bunch of similarly afflicted individuals would certainly be reassuring. To be able to achieve a degree of anonymity within the confines of the group setting; to be able to hide oneself away. Once again, all very appealing. Nevertheless, in my opinion founded on over a quarter of a century’s professional experience, inappropriate anger can only ever be truly eradicated by individual psychotherapeutic sessions.