How to Become an Anger Management Therapist

Overview

The goal of anger management therapy is to help individuals effectively manage their anger. When an individual experiences unrestrained anger on a regular basis, it can lead to both physical and psychological conditions. Anger management therapists are highly equipped at helping individuals reduce their stress levels, and control their anger, which ultimately lowers their risks of significant health and psychological problems (i.e. high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, migraines, and heart disease). The main goal of anger management therapy is to teach individuals how to accurately recognize their triggers so that they can prevent their anger and frustration from getting out of control.

Other goals of anger management therapy are: to help individuals assess various situations more accurately, and express their frustration and anger in a healthier, more constructive way. Common anger management techniques include: self-awareness, positive coping mechanisms, stress management techniques (i.e. deep breathing exercises, mediation, yoga, and relaxation strategies), and impulse control methods. If you are interested in becoming an anger management therapist, you will need to complete certain educational, training, certification and/or licensure requirements.

Related Reading: How to Become a Mental Health Therapist

Requirements

Educationa

Most colleges and universities do not offer a specific degree in anger management counseling; however you can earn a degree in counseling or psychology and training specifically in anger management. In order to become a counselor you must fulfill your program’s educational requirements. It is important to note that in some cases, anger management counselors (not therapists) can practice with a high school diploma, provided that they have extensive professional experience counseling individuals with anger and/or behavioral issues. To practice as an anger management therapist, you must have a master’s degree (M.A.) in counseling, psychotherapy, social work, and/or psychology. In fact, many anger management therapists have a master’s degree and a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in a social services and/or mental health fields (i.e. psychology, marriage and family therapy, social work, criminal justice, psychiatry, and/or counseling.

The best courses to take, if your plan is to specialize in anger management are: abnormal psychology, lifespan development, anger management, counseling techniques, cognitive-behavioral psychology, sociology, marriage and family therapy, conflict resolution techniques, and group therapy. It should take you approximately 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree in counseling, social work, psychology, or a related field, 2.5 to 3 years to earn a master’s degree in a psychology or social services field, and up to 7 years to earn a doctorate in one of these fields. Moreover, if possible gain some experience in the counseling field, following high school or during college, by volunteering or interning at a social services agency, hospital, school, mental health clinic, jail, prison, or private mental health practice.

Training

Once you have earned a bachelor, master and/or doctorate in psychology, social services and/or a mental health field, you will need to complete additional training in anger management counseling. During this training, you may be supervised by a licensed/certified psychologist, psychiatrist, and/or anger management therapist. In addition, depending on your training program, you may not be eligible to take the anger management certification exam for at least one year, following the completion of the program. Most employers require that you have at least a master’s degree and certification to be hired as an anger management therapist. Anger management training programs typically take 2.5 to 3 years to complete, depending on your program. The majority of your training courses will be focused on preparing you for the certification exam.

Some of the courses you may take in an anger management training program are: clinical research and evidence-based treatments of anger problems, effective mindfulness techniques and anger management, anger management skills, concepts, and exercises, brain research and anger management, cognitive-behavioral approaches to dysfunctional thinking, and integral approaches to anger management. The certification contains several sections (i.e. oral, written, psychological, and physical) that must be successfully passed, before seeking employment as an anger management therapist. It is imperative that you be both physically and psychologically stable, if you are going to counsel those who have severe and chronic anger issues.

Certification

Anger management therapy certification consists of four levels. The first level is: Certified Anger Management Specialist-I (National Anger Management Association, 2014). This certification is offered to those who have received a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, etc. As mentioned previously, you can still become an anger management counselor, if you have a high school diploma and professional experience in a counseling/mental health field. But, you are only allowed to call yourself an “anger management therapist,” if you have a master’s degree in psychology, social services and/or a mental health field, complete anger management training, and pass the certification exam.

The Certified Anger Management Specialist-I credential allows you to provide anger management education to court-mandated individuals (National Anger Management Association, 2014). The other 3 anger management certification levels require a master’s degree or higher in a psychology, social services, and/or mental health field, an active license and extensive experience providing counseling, and/or anger management services to clients. These levels allow you to perform advanced anger management services, and call yourself an “anger management therapist.” If you wish to pursue certification as an anger management therapist, you will need to register and successfully pass the certification exam, and show proof of education (National Anger Management Association, 2014).

Job Duties

The main duty of an anger management therapist is to help individuals address and successfully resolve their anger issues.

As an anger management therapist, you may perform the following tasks:

  • Providing clients with a safe, secure, and non-judgmental platform, in which they can openly share their true feelings, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs
  • Evoking positive and healthy, rather than negative and unhealthy responses
  • Helping clients identify situations that trigger anger episodes
  • Encouraging clients to explore their coping mechanisms, communication and problem-solving skills
  • Teaching clients how to control their anger
  • Helping clients understand that their anger is a psychological reaction to a situation, so that they are aware of how their responses affect those around them
  • Helping clients understand that their anger responses may actually be defense mechanisms or signs of mental illness or psychological disorders like: depression and anxiety

Salary Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), mental health counselors like anger management therapists can earn approximately $45,000, per year. If you fall in the lower 10%, you can expect to earn between $30,000 and $35,000, per year, and if you fall in the upper 10%, you can expect to earn between $45,000 and $50,000, per year (bls.gov). In May 2012, the median annual salary for mental health counselors was approximately $40,000 (bls.gov). Moreover, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can earn approximately $39,000, per year.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for anger management therapists is excellent. In fact, mental health counseling jobs are expected to increase 29% by 2022 (bls.gov). This growth will stem from an increase in insurance-covered mental health services. In addition, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling jobs are expected to increase 31% by 2022 (bls.gov). Employment opportunities in these sectors will stem from an increase in insurance-covered mental health and substance abuse counseling services.

Related Reading

References

  • National Anger Management Association. (2014). Anger management certification. http://namass.org/certification.htm
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014). Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014). Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
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