Therapists often treat angry couples or parent-adolescent relationships as if the anger were encapsulated within each individual. But anger is almost always a systemic issue that emerges in the context of the relationship, and it’s nearly impossible to address the underlying conflicts until both parties can get off the “anger-go-round” and practice skills that prevent them from climbing back on it. In this workshop, we’ll discuss a research-based method for assessing the mutually reinforcing patterns of anger, identifying the overt and passive “faces” of its expression, and determining whether to proceed with individual and/or conjoint therapy. You’ll learn an easily remembered protocol, “S-T-O-P”--Stop, Think, Objectify, Plan--that can be used to prevent or reduce initial arousal, derail escalation, avoid anger-fueling cognitive distortions about the other person, replace them with affirming facts, and create a plan to prevent arguments from gaining steam. We’ll also review 10 powerful strategies for defusing interpersonal, stage-setting provocations.
W. Robert Nay, Ph.D., clinical associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, is the author of Taking Charge of Anger: Resolving Conflict, Sustaining Relationships and Communicating Effectively Without Losing Control.