Anger management & assertiveness training (conflict inoculation training)
Most anger management training relies on techniques for consciously over-riding or redirecting emotion. Conflict inoculation training is a therapy that deals with the unconscious source of the problem instead. Ironically, the origin of uncontrollable rage as well as anger phobia and paralysis in conflict are usually the same. In both, the person is usually trying to avoid feeling a shame-based emotional state within themselves. The strategy of defense is different but the underlying deficits are the same. Conflict inoculation training is a way of conditioning in new emotions to “mellow” out the anxiety and allow the person to think and behave in a more balanced way during conflict.
The early steps in conflict inoculation training are the same as for hedonic disinhibition work. Positive emotions from the person’s best memories about themselves are used to wire together a memory network of very positive feelings. These positive feelings are then used to build metaphorical images of self-parts with which the client can interact in scripted hypnotic fantasies. These metaphorical self-parts are referred to as “resources.” Once a person’s resources are consolidated, then the person is taught to practice using them against worst case target memories involving conflict. Certain “eidetic” cognitive techniques are used so that the client’s unconscious shame-based emotional state is activated while he/she calms through the help of their resources. After enough practice in the office, the client can often continue the majority of their remaining practice sessions at home. When the treatment is complete, the person’s emotions during conflict are greatly changed. Clients often report that they no longer feel the “need” to rage or be violent. They often report that it’s as if “the button is no longer connected.” For clients who have been conflict phobic, they “discover” that they naturally speak out their mind instead of hiding their thoughts because of fearing potential conflict.
The training regimen is highly structured but may vary somewhat from individual to individual. The average course of training looks like the following:
Sessions 1 - 2 Initial evaluation and review of social history
Sessions 3 - 6 Consolidation of positive emotional resources from positive memories and meditation training
Sessions 7 - 10 Strengthening of positive resources via hypnotic techniques and interactive imagery
Sessions 11 - 17 In - session practice using positive resources to recondition emotions in worst-case imagined scenarios
Sessions 18 - 23 At home practice exercises with review of practice logs in session
Session 24 Final review and closure session
The above outlined course of training requires a fair amount of repetition much like training to play a musical instrument. Performance training cannot occur like educational learning. If you want anger management "classes" in order to merely satisfy a court requirement with minimal effort, then this training is not for you. It does require a fair amount of work. It is more expensive (because of the individual attention required), and will require more personal discomfort in practicing because of more intense emotion. However, if you truly want to improve your interpersonal relationships for the rest of your life, this training regimen is one of the best investments you can make.
For a more in-depth theoretical and scientific discussion of the treatment protocol, Click Here.
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