Therapeutic goals: managing anger and aggression, overcoming irritability, managing strong emotions, procedures and skills for working with aggression, practical steps to tame anger, how to calm down, understanding the origin and triggers of anger
Age group: 6-16 years
Secondary target group: parents of children, older children, educators, peers
Form of work: individual, group
The publication of Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisovkis could be classified as a guide for parents and youth. The intention is to provide guidance on how to manage irritability and anger. It is a compilation of advice, samples and, to a lesser extent, examples from life. Everyone sometimes gets angry and then feels like a real monster sounds in the opening word. What goes through our head and body when we are angry, what are the forms and the reasons why we are angry are the contents of the first part of the text. The book will show the child how to handle difficult situations and how to deal with the fact that he doesn’t like something and is angry about something. However, the goal is not to suppress unpleasant emotions, but to find a way to deal with them without harming others. The focus of the text is therefore the part with practical advice and methods to tame it and keep calm. The black-and-white illustrations and the text assume a reader with a higher degree of self-reflection and insight, but it can also be useful for parents, guidance counselors and pedagogues in their practice.
Description of the possibilities of professional pedagogical/therapeutic work:
Anger, or generally a manifestation of dissatisfaction in children, can have deeper roots in their life situation. So the book is actually not just about anger, it is a comprehensive educational guide, in which you can learn a lot about relationships between children and parents, bullying and even suitable psychohygienic measures, either directly or between the lines. The book itself offers methods for managing anger, but does not further address the context of the origin of aggressive behavior itself. However, it can be the essence of the entire therapeutic approach. In a situation where the child comes from, for example, an abusive family, where it is common to have “sharp elbows”. Children living in such an environment may have learned from their own experience that it is necessary to be strong in contact with others and not show weakness so that others do not have the upper hand over them.
It is necessary to take into account the individual context of the given client, it is necessary to proceed with caution. It can be assumed that aggressive children are full of anger that needs to be released/abreacted in order for an internal change in experience and behavior to occur. Merely presenting the right patterns, models or ways of behaving may not always be sufficient without the experience itself. It is necessary to decide whether we only want behavioral intervention, behavior change, setting boundaries and rules, or whether we really care about the specific child/client.
In the first case, the book can be used immediately. In the second case, the inclusion of this publication is appropriate only in the last stages of joint work. First, it is necessary to provide space for hearing, expressing and accepting the client as he is (not what he has done). Also offering and building a working relationship and trust, an emotionally corrective relationship experience that is not full of rancor and judgment.
In the next steps, the exploration of the child’s own experience and understanding of the given situation (preview) can be supported. And that too with the help of a suitable story, offering the possibility of identification with a hero who experiences anger, pain, sadness, sorrow, or regret for his actions.
And then together, in a non-judgmental atmosphere, seek an understanding of what led to the problematic situation and how the client felt about it.
And finally, the practical material of this publication can be applied for learning concrete examples of adaptive behavior and new strategies for relating to the world and others. Specific procedures and solutions then support the client’s work itself, support the experience of competence and his internal resources.
You can proceed by talking to the child about the reading process, any questions, or sharing experiences from the application of specific procedures. However, it is also possible to work in a creative and more intuitive way – e.g. drawing, collage, poem, song, representation through movement expression, etc. It always depends on the skills and strengths of each client. In the same way, it is necessary to take into account the weak/deficient areas of a specific client who manifests himself aggressively (e.g. deficit of self-control and management of emotions, deficit of empathy towards the victim, etc.).
Questions developing a joint therapeutic process leading to awareness of a person’s aggressive potential and guiding him in a constructive way should always be authentic and arise in the uniqueness of the context of the given situation. For inspiration and to further adjust the therapist to what is happening in the relationship field with the client, let’s ask questions like: What really annoys you? What is your typical reaction when you get angry/angry? Where in your body do you feel it the most? Where and in what situations can you be angry and is it okay? What has to happen for you to go so far as to hurt someone? What will help you control/divert/reduce your anger? What to do if someone is picking on you? What to do if someone wrongly accuses you of something you didn’t do? What about when you have to do something you don’t want to do at that moment? What if you envy someone? What can you do if the other person wins and you lose? The questions need to be adapted to the age of the client.
The book can be used as an aid when the child/parent finds it difficult to accept the recommended procedures during direct care (e.g. it’s too much information on me at once, I don’t remember it, I don’t understand it, etc.), or as part of work “at home” . Subsequently, during further meetings, space can be devoted to sharing the client’s progress, experiments and efforts. However, the relational framework between the client and the therapist plays a significant role in the therapeutic process. Without it (by simply handing over the book) too much depersonalization and intellectualization of the whole situation can occur, which can hinder the client’s inner transformation. It is therefore necessary to work on a therapeutic relationship, not on a relationship with a literary work.
The card of the recommended work created by:
PhDr. Peter Vejrosta Workplace: Vejrostovi-psychologie, Ltd. – clinic of clinical psychology and psychotherapy in Rožnov pod RadhoštěmDate last updated: March 20, 2023
The recommendation from Slovak to English translated by: Mária Trechová, Workplace: PRO SKIZP – Association for support of Slovak Chamber of Physicists, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Educators, c. a. Bratislava, Slovakia
It didn’t pass language editing!
Recommended citation method:
Vejrosta, Peter. 2023. Recommended procedure for therapeutic work with the literary piece How to survive when everything annoys me.
In Kotrbová, K. et al: Biblioterapia.sk. Bratislava: PRO SKIZP – Association to support the development of the Slovak Chamber of Clinical Physics, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Pedagogues, 2023. ISBN 978-80-974667-0-1 Available on: https://www.biblioterapia.sk/en/publikacia/recommended-procedure-for-therapeutic-work-with-the-literary-how-to-survive-when-everything-annoys-me/
This article was created thanks to the support of the the program of the European Union Erasmus+, Key action 2 – Cooperation among organizations and institutions, KA210 – Small-scale partnerships for cooperation in the field of vocational education and training. Project title „Prototype of the on-line study tool for bibliotherapy”, project number 2022-1-SK01-KA210-VET-000082483. It represents the opinion of the author only and European Commission is not responsible for any use of the informations contained therein.