VIDEO: Ron Potter-Efron on Helping Clients with Anger Problems

"Building a Bridge" from the Old Brain to the New Brain

Ron Potter-Efron • 7/26/2017 • 1 Comment

Is it possible to overcome the typical oppositional response of a client with anger issues? When they yell, lash out, or blame you for their problems, it can put even the most capable of therapists in a tricky situation.

But according to Ron Potter-Efron, clinical psychologist and expert in working with the “angry brain,” therapists can create a brain-change plan with their angry clients, getting them out of the mode responsible for their outbursts.

The first step, Potter-Efron says, is defusing reactivity by "building a bridge" from the response of the "old brain" to the "new brain." In the following video clip with Networker Editor Rich Simon, Potter-Efron explains how it’s done.


Ron Potter-Efron is a clinical psychotherapist, co-owner of First Things First Counseling and Consulting, and director of its Anger Management Center. He’s the author of Angry All the Time and Healing the Angry Brain.

Angry clients, Potter-Efron writes in his Networker article, "arrive at your office with a shotgun at their backs, so to speak," pressured to attend therapy by spouses, friends, or bosses. "No wonder they feel powerless," he continues. "They're being coerced to lay down their anger, the only weapon they've ever had against feelings of powerlessness." Anger, he says, is the only emotion these clients can trust—one they've likely used since childhood to respond to danger, trauma, shaming, and pain.

Using Potter-Efron's approach, you can actually channel anger productively in order to repair and rebuild bonds between partners, understand the psychobiology of intense emotion, including tears, and help angry clients rewire their brains.

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Did you enjoy this video? Check out Potter-Efron's article, "Mad Men: How to Heal the Angry Brain." You might also like some of our other articles on dealing with challenging clients and treatment populations.

Topic: Challenging Clients & Treatment Populations | Mind/Body | Mindfulness

Tags: angry brain | brain science | clinical psychologist | counseling | emotion | psychologist | psychotherapist | psychotherapy | Rick Hanson | science | Susan Johnson | Anger Management | Powered By Emotion | Ron Potter-Efron

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1 Comment

Sunday, February 8, 2015 5:55:15 AM | posted by joystar
I find that anger mounts when it is not the primary emotion. Often beneath the anger there is another emotion such as fear or grief that the angry person cannot or will not access and express. Creating the safety to deal with the underlying emotion often defuses the anger.