The current blogspot will be based on the question “what are the family therapy activities for anger?”. We will discuss how various activities in family therapy can be of help for getting over the anger and aggression that is a hindrance in functional family relationships.
What are the Family therapy activities for anger?
The family therapy aims at facilitating the members of the family to overcome their behaviors that are a root cause for distorted familial relationships. Overt and covert aggression in family members is a major source of distorted family relationships.
Anger often leads to developing feelings of irritability and frustration among the individuals. For having a strong emotional affiliation among the members of the family, it is necessary to curb down the anger within the family members.
The family therapy activities to work with anger are:
- Anger personification
- Anger iceberg
- Tackle the triggers
- Safe space landing for anger
- Empty chair techniques
- Balloon bursting technique
- Movie therapy
- Square breathing
- Soothing bottles
- Pick – up sticks
- The angry box
- The un-mad song
- Anger fortune cookies
The anger personification technique in family therapy requires each family member to draw their anger in the form of a person. The family members tend to depict their anger in the form of a person o a a piece of paper. Thus they are able to separate their anger from their own selves. As a result, the family members are able to differentiate being angry upon something and their own true selves.
The therapist then facilitates and interprets the meaning out of the drawing of each family member. The anger of each family member as the root cause that results in disturbed family relations and strained functionality of the family.
Through this technique, anger is looked upon as an external factor that can be controlled or managed by the person.
The anger iceberg technique is used in family therapy to manage anger issues among the family members.
Family members often display anger as a substitute for other deep unpleasant and negative emotions. Like it is quite easy for one family member to feel angry rather than feel guilty, ashamed, jealous or vindictive of other family members.
The anger iceberg therapy technique during family therapy is aimed to look deep into the various emotions that build up a person’s unpleasant emotions that are difficult for the person to surface.
Each of the family members is asked to draw an iceberg. At the tip of the iceberg is the person’s anger and related behaviors that are surfaced and visible. Behind the surface in the deep water is the remaining iceberg. The family member is asked to write down all the various expressions and emotions that he feels difficult to express and manage with his or her family members.
The therapist then goes through every family member’s ice berg and facilitates them to interpret their negative emotions and unpleasant experiences.
For example a person might draw an iceberg with the tip of the iceberg being related to his anger and aggressive behavior. The rest of the iceberg is divided by the person to represent sibling rivalry, parental conflict, favouritism on part of the parents and the associated unpleasant and unexpressed feelings.
Track the triggers
The track triggers technique is used in family therapy to deal with anger issues of the members of the family. Each of the family members is prompted to make a list of the various situational triggers that give rise to unpleasant emotions, negative thoughts and the content related to anger is built up in the mind.
For every member the triggers are unique and have a response of different intensity.
The therapist can also start with providing a list of various situational factors that occur in the family so that the members of the family can check their triggers among the list. If any trigger is not mentioned, that can be further written down in the list.
The possible list of triggers for anger among family members could be:
- Not being attended to well by the parents or by wife
- Not being granted permission for certain events
- Imposing too much of house chores on one person
- Not appreciating each other
- Not spending quality time with each other
- Being interrupted
- Not managing well the personal and professional life
- Someone from the family taunting or teasing others
- Rigidity and stubborn attitude of the children
- Threatening attitude of the parents
Safe space landing for anger
The safe place landing for anger is a technique utilized by the therapists in the family therapy to curb down the anger feelings among the members of the family.
The therapist discusses with the members of the family about their safe place in the home that makes them feel relaxed and at peace in the home. For some members of the family a safe place would be their own bedroom, for others it could be a corner in the lounge,a corner in the balcony or the bathtub filled with warm water.
The safe place landing for anger is based on the purpose of minimizing the reaction by taking a time out and relaxing one’s own self from the anger build up.
Snuggling a pillow while being angry or sitting on a rocking chair often helps to deal with anger and stop anger from destroying the healthy family relationships.
Empty chair techniques
The therapist uses empty chair technique in family therapy sessions to treat the inner build of anger among members of the family. The empty chair technique is a gestalt technique that is used to get to the surface the inner build of unexpressed emotions and unpleasant thoughts related to an event or a person.
The client is asked by the therapist to believe that the person he or she fee;s most angry at is sitting in front of him on the empty chair. The therapist then facilitates the person to take out all the anger on to the chair that is the pretend person. The therapist prompts and facilitates the client to verbally express the anger and all the associated emotions.
By surfacing their inner build of anger in a safe and controlled environment without the fear of being judged or evaluated helps the member of the family to relax and calm down.
Balloon bursting technique
The balloon bursting technique is used by the therapist in the family therapy to facilitate the clients to learn about appropriate emotional expression and emotional regulation. The therapist provides balloons to all the members of the family.
Each family member is then asked to blow the provided balloon to its maximum limit and one by one they burst it out.
Next, the second balloon is given to all the members of the family. They are again asked to blow the balloons to the maximum limit. This time, they are told to stretch the balloon’s opening and release the air with a funny sound in slow motion.
The therapist then asks the members of the family the difference in both incidents. They are asked to rate their pleasant and unpleasant feelings when the balloon was bursted and when the balloon was released slowly.
In this way the therapist teaches the members of the family how emotional expression matters. They are taught that the way we express our anger in reaction to the anger provoking incident leaves an impact on our emotions and the other members of the family.
The therapist instills an insight among the members of the family that minimizing reactions and just responding to the underlying issue often minimizes further conflicts in response to anger in the family.
The movie therapy involves watching a clip of an animated movie or any other movie to relate to the anger emotions and manage the associated emotions. The members of the family can learn how to manage and express their anger in a way that doesn’t distort the family relations.
Another way to anger management in family therapy is to enact in a pretend therapy. Using puppet play therapy technique, the therapist can involve the members of the family to learn about their dynamics and the way the family members respond to anger provoking events.
The square breathing involves the therapist telling the members of the family to relax themselves and soothe themselves down in moments of frustration and anger.
The members of the family sit in a circle. They are asked to imagine the trigger that provokes their anger. Then the therapist instructs them to breathe in for four seconds, hold the breathe in for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds and take a pause for four seconds before engaging in any activity.
Through the square breathing exercise, the therapist makes the members of the family to learn anger management and relaxation.
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The soothing bottles are empty plastic bottles that are filled with water. The therapist tells each member of the family to bring into the session the various things that soothe and relax them. The soothing bottles are unique for every member of the family.
The family members put different types of pictures, objects, glitters, confetti and colours to the bottle that makes them recall their happy moments during times of anger and in built aggression.
Pick – up sticks
The pick up sticks are involved in family therapy to make the family members focus better on the work they are doing and keep away from getting distracted. The family members are prompted to pick up the sticks on the ground while the therapist tells them the tauntu=ing and teasing comments that are often a part of their usual family conversation.
This technique helps the members of the family to respond negatively to every verbal trigger by the members of the family and focus on the life tasks.
The angry box
The therapist fills an empty box with incomplete sentences related to anger and aggression related behaviors. The family members then take out different chits of papers with incomplete sentences related to anger and aggressive behavior.
The members of the family complete each statement as per their experience. For example, a member of the family has a sentence “ ———————- makes me feel angry most times of the day during most days of the week”.
Other examples could be:
- When i tell someone that i am angry, i feel__________
- I get angry whenever someone_________
- Whenever i am angry i_________
The un-mad song
The un-mad song is rhythmically similar to the nursery poem “row row row your boat”. The therapist tells the members of the family to engage in self affirmations and positive self tak to get done with the unpleasant and negative feelings that are a result of situational triggers.
Members of the family can use the un-mad song to get their odd and unpleasant feelings settled in uncertain and unpleasant situations.
The un–mad song is as follows:
Mad mad mad feelings
Time to go away
I don’t want you anymore
I have had enough today
Anger fortune cookies
The anger fortune cookies are small pretend cookies cut out of cardboard with different sort of anger quotes written in them. The family members are then told to pick up one cookie quote from the box, read the quote and relate it to their experience.
For example, a family member picks up an angry cookie and reads a quote, “you can best do the worst speech of your life when you are angry”. The family member then relates the quote to their life incident when they were verbally abusive and had a heated argument that gained them no solution.
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The current blogspot focused on the various anger management techniques that counselors and psychotherapists can utilize in the family therapy sessions. We learned various techniques like balloon bursting, art therapy, anger personification, tracking the triggers, the anger box and anger fortune cookies to manage anger during family therapy.
What we recommend for Counselling
If you are suffering from depression or any other mental disorders then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Family therapy activities for anger
What activities reduce anger?
Following are some of the activities to reduce anger:
- Distracting your unpleasant thoughts
- Recalling positive incidents of the day
- Physical exertion
- Deep breathing
How do you teach a child to control anger?
Children can be taught to control their anger through:
- Punching a bobo doll
- Doing a pillow fight
- Stop and freeze to act
- Counting till anger goes down
- Painting or coloring
What is the best therapy for anger management?
The best therapy for anger management is cognitive behavior therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. The cognitive behavior therapy makes the person understand his negative feelings and anger in response to the triggering events and reduces the reactions by challenging the underlying thoughts based on thought restructuring.
However the dialectic behavior therapy helps the individuals to learn emotional regulation and the social skills associated to wisely deal with the anger provoking events on a daily basis.