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  1. To understand the function of anger.
  2. To practice assertive ways of dealing with anger.

Group Size
No one more than fifteen dyads.

Time Required
One and one-half to two hours


  1. Newsprint, felt-tipped markers, and masking tape for the facilitator.
  2. A pencil, blank paper, and a copy of the What’s the Threat Questionnaire for each participant.


  1. The facilitator distributes the What’s the Threat Questionnaire, paper, and pencils and instructs participants to complete it in preparation for the activity (Ten minutes).
  2. Participants are told to choose partners and to discuss with those partners one or two of their responses and anything they may have learned from completing the questionnaire about the way in which they tend to view or deal with anger. (Five to ten minutes).
  3. The facilitator presents a short lecturette on anger, including the anger cycle and steps to take to express anger. In dealing with anger we must distinguish stored childhood anger from current anger. Stored anger can be dealt with by punching pillows as you shout out the reasons for the anger or using any one of many ways in various psychotherapies.

In dealing with current anger a helpful model is to use the Anger Cycle.


There are four parts :

  1. Threat : before you feel angry, you hear some threat to your status, self-esteem to your being or doing or to your identity and this brings the angry feeling. Identifying the Threat in exercise is a good way of cutting the Anger Cycle.
  2. Assumptions : If we don’t deal with the threat, we next cook up assumptions which add fuel to the fire - our anger keeps gathering velocity.
  3. If we still don’t break the cycle, we go on to power assessment. Here we look at whether we - or the other person is more powerful. Our explosion of anger will depend on our assessment of power.
  4. Anger. Thus we can see this as a closed cycle, feeding more fuel to our anger as it moves around. The cure is to cut the cycles at any of the points (as in the exercise in identifying and dealing with threat).

This makes it into an open system as new information changes assumptions into facts, beliefs into reality, and unfogs our vision.

  1. The facilitator tells participants to think about the kinds of things that usually make them angry and to each choose a real situation in which they would like to learn to express their more appropriately.
  2. Participants are asked to share their situations with their partners and, with their partners’ help to identify the threat involved in the situations and to role play sharing those threats in sensitive assertive ways with those involved.

The following guidelines are posted :

  1. Acknowledge your anger.
  2. Gauge how much anger you are feeling.
  3. Diagnose the threat.
  4. Share the perceived threat in a nonthreatening way, use "I" statements, and ask for help and clarification.
  1. The facilitator asks participants to share what they have learned from the experience and any questions that have arisen.
  2. The facilitator asks participants to choose new partners, to each think of a situation in which they have trouble responding to another’s anger, and to role play responding to that anger in a sensitive, assertive way. The following guidelines are posted:
  1. Affirm the other’s feeling.
  2. Acknowledge your own defensiveness.
  3. Clarify and diagnose.
  4. Renegotiate the relationship (Ten to twenty minutes).
  1. The facilitator asks participants to share what they learned from the experience with the large group.
  2. The facilitator directs participants to discuss with their partners some specific ways in which they can use what they have learned.

As a last step, or instead of role playing, participants can practice dealing with anger situations with the group. The facilitator can direct participants to rehearse, sharing the threat involved in the anger they actually have felt, feel, or could feel toward someone in the room if the person acted in a certain specified way. Time is then allotted for each participant to approach the other person actually involved and to share the threat with him/her. (If more than one person wants to share with the same person, each waits in line.) After sharing their feeling with the other person, participants make themselves available to others by remaining alone and standing until approached. At the end of the time period, participants return to their partners to discuss the experience. The facilitator leads in a discussion of the experience.


\How do I express and respond to anger :

  1. Do I usually keep quiet when I’m angry?
  2. Do I usually walk away from the other person when I’m angry?
  3. Do I simmer for days and then the vent my anger in a big blow-up?
  4. Do I appear to feel hurt when I’m actually angry ?
  5. Do I take out my anger on someone other than the person at whom I’m angry?
  6. Do I express my anger directly and firmly, but without labeling the other person?
  7. When someone else is angry with me, can I respond directly and effectively, with composure? Can I listen, try to understand their grievance?
  8. Do I feel hurt and withdraw when someone is angry with me?

2000 Dennice is solely responsible for the opinions expressed 


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