Group Treatment of Anger and Aggression

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Small Group Counseling for
Reactive Aggressive,
Anger-Fueled Bullying Behavior
Jim Larson, Ph.D.
School Psychology Program
Department of Psychology
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Whitewater, WI 53190
[email protected]
and
The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and
Treatment
Aggressive Patterns in Students
Who Bully - I
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Proactive, Cool-Headed Aggression
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goal-oriented aggressive behaviors
unprovoked intentions to exert power
over others
higher peer status, often “popular”
overvalued use of aggression
underestimates of victim impact
Aggressive Patterns in Students
Who Bully - II

Reactive, Anger-Fueled Aggression


hypervigilant for aggressive cues
biased interpretation of ambiguous cues
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Hostile attributional bias
narrow solution generation ability
poor emotional understanding/regulation
lower peer status
high disciplinary contacts
Rarely are there “pure types”
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Most have elements of both
Importance of a good assessment

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Observation and FBA
Self-Reports, e.g., Multidimensional School
Anger Inventory or Children’s Inventory of
Anger
Teacher Screening Scale
Teacher Screening Scale
(Adapt. Dodge & Coie,1987; in HSCWA; Larson, 2002)
Never
Almost Always
1
2
3
4
When teased, fights back*
Blames others in fights*
Overreacts angrily to accidents*
Uses physical force to dominate**
Gets others to gang up on a peer**
Threatens and bullies others**
*Reactive **Proactive
5
Treatment Implications
When Anger is a Key Component
Essential Components for Group
Treatment

Emotional education and emotional
regulation training for generalization
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Identifying and Differentiating Feeling States
Recognizing Affective Continuums
Rehearsal of Techniques for Regulation
Treatment Implications
When Anger is a Key Component
Essential Components for Group
Treatment

Attribution re-training for generalization
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Challenge Hostile Attributional Biases
Train Cue Recognition Strategies
Use “Alternative Explanations” Practice
Treatment Implications
When Anger is a Key Component
Essential Components for Group
Treatment

Social problem-solving training for
generalization


Train Problem-Solving Steps
Rehearse Authentic Scenarios
Treatment Implications
When Anger is a Key Component
Essential Components for Group
Treatment

Behavioral skills training for generalization
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Link to Problem-Solving Solutions
Train Assertiveness Skills
What is meant by TRAINING?
It is one thing to know about a skill, but
quite another to engage the skill in fast
moving moments of stress, ambiguity, and
potential danger
What is meant by
GENERALIZATION?

Can the youth enact the skill:
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Across settings?
Across individuals?
Across multiple trigger events?
…and can it be maintained over time?
Implications for Training and
Generalization
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Present to student at outset and keep
reminding
Insight, model, rehearse, feedback, repeat
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Gather multiple collaborators
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New situation, new location, new people
Teachers, family, PO’s…
Get in for the Long Haul, include Boosters
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Nothing happens in six weeks…
Anger Coping Program
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Small group counseling
for children 8-12
Evidenced-based,
cognitive-behavioral
orientation
Highly collaborative
with classroom teacher
18 sessions plus
boosters
Think First Program
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Small group counseling
program for
adolescents
Research is emerging
and promising
18 weeks plus boosters
School focus, linked to
academics and
disciplinary structure
See Also...
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SkillStreaming
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Aggression Replacement Training (ART)
for adolescents
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Adolescent and child versions
Anger Training
Social Skills Training
Moral Development Training
Both at www.researchpress.com
Classroom Curriculum
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Second Step Violence Prevention Program
Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies
(PATHS)
I Can Problem-Solve (ICPS)
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and
Emotional Learning www.CASEL.org
References

Larson, J. (2005). Think First: Addressing

New York: Guilford Press www.guilford.com
Larson, J., & Lochman, J. E. (2002). Helping
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aggressive behavior in the secondary schools.
schoolchildren cope with anger: A cognitivebehavioral intervention. New York: Guilford Press
Second Step Violence Prevention Program
available at www.cfchildren.com
PATHS available at www.channing-bete.com
ICPS available at www.researchpress.com
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