Getting Along & Keeping Cool

Aggression management for adolescents and young adults

The effect of aggressive behaviour on young people and others in their lives can be far-reaching. Aggressive behaviour may jeopardise employment status, family and other relationships as well as physical and emotional well-being. The cost to the community can be high through damage to property, days of work lost and through the physical and emotional harm which is inflicted.

There is no clear cause of aggression among young people, with a number of factors likely to be playing a role. Some sources cite the role of endemic violence portrayed through the media, and a peer culture which reinforces violence as ’cool’ (Rose, 1998). However, specific variables such as parent modelling of aggression are, in many instances, clearly influential. For example, the young person may have witnessed aggression and violence within the family and learned that these are acceptable ways of dealing with conflict. In these cases, in addition to the modelling influence, the young person may lack prosocial skills. For other young people a dysfunctional family context can result in a sense of powerlessness with aggression being a means of asserting control. Broadly, aggression can be both proactive and reactive (Fuller, 1999; Rose, 1998).

Aggression is proactive when it is designed to have needs and wants met. Reactive aggression is that which occurs as a response to a particular triggering event. Aggression can be verbal, physical and/or sexual.

Session 1 – Introduction to program 
The difference between anger and aggression

Session 2 – Overview of how anger works 
Introduction to the Pressure Cooker Model
Recognising the signs of anger – the ‘steam’
Introduction to triggers
Introduction to self-monitoring (Hassle Logs)

Session 3 – Identifying anger triggers & behavioural strategies 
Triggers and Hassle Logs
Learning ways to ‘let off steam’

Session 4 – Identifying feelings & Looking at consequences.
Identifying feelings other than anger
Recognising the costs and benefits of aggression

Session 5 & 6 – Effective communication
Anger rights and responsibilities
Introduction to assertiveness skills – ‘loosening the lid’
Assertiveness skills

Session 7 – Using self-talk to manage anger
Influence of thoughts on feelings
Using self–talk to manage anger – ‘turning down the flame’

Session 8 – Putting it together
Reflection on program
Closing activity
Preparation for relapse