How to Become an Anger Management Therapist

What is Anger Management Therapy?

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 therapy aims to teach individuals how to accurately recognize their triggers so that they can prevent their anger and frustration from getting out of control.

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).

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

What Does an Anger Management Therapist Do?

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

Why Do We Need Anger Management Therapists?

In many cases, anger is a feeling or emotion that results from another feeling or emotion. That is, anger is easier for some people to express than something like shame or guilt. So, for example, rather than expressing feelings related to being guilty about one’s behavior, it’s much simpler to just lash out at loved ones in a fit of rage.

Due to the complexity that sometimes surrounds anger and the inability to control it, having a counselor or therapist that’s trained in providing therapeutic interventions can help people overcome their anger problems.

Consider this – working with a therapist might enable someone that’s having difficulty controlling their anger to identify triggers that “set them off” and cause them to become angry in the first place. What’s more, an anger management therapist can help their clients develop strategies that will help them find ways to mitigate their triggers, reduce stress, and deal with anger in a way that’s healthy.

What are the Requirements to Become an Anger Management Therapist?

Educational Requirements

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.

It is important to note that in some cases, anger management counselors can practice with a high school diploma, provided that they have extensive professional experience counseling individuals with anger and/or behavioral issues.

However, to practice as a licensed anger management counselor, you must have a master’s degree (M.A.) in counseling, psychotherapy, social work, and/or psychology. In fact, many anger management counselors 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 Requirements

Once you have earned a bachelor, master and/or doctorate in psychology, social services and/or a mental health field, you may 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.

Certification

There are many different certifications from many different organizations for anger management specialists. However, two of the most widely accepted and recognized certifications come from the American Institute of Health Care Professionals (AIHCP) and the National Anger management Association (NAMA).

Certification from the AIHCP results in a designation of a Certified Anger Management Specialist. Once certification is achieved, specialists can work with clients on an individual or group basis to provide counseling that addresses persistent anger issues.

To qualify for certification from the AIHCP, applicants must demonstrate a deep understanding and skill set related to anger management counseling, conflict resolution techniques, assessment procedures, anger management interventions, working with children, and mitigating anger in a workplace setting. These skills are developed in a variety of AIHCP-approved continuing education courses. Once a completed application and fees are received and the scope of education has been confirmed and approved, certification might be granted.

Certification from NAMA is a little more complex because NAMA offers five separate Certified Anger Management Specialist certifications.

The easiest certification to get from NAMA is the Specialist I certification. To be eligible, applicants must have bachelor’s degree or a commensurate level of work experience in the field. Supervised work experience is also required. This certification allows workers to provide basic anger management services like anger management classes.

The highest degree of certification from NAMA is a Specialist V designation. These workers must currently possess or have previously held a Specialist IV certification and have at least 15 years of experience or 1000 direct service hours in the field of anger management counseling. Additionally, applicants must fill out an application and submit the necessary fees for any of NAMA’s anger management certifications.

How Much Does an Anger Management Therapist Make?

As of May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of mental health counselors like anger management is $46,050, per year. If you fall in the lower 10%, you can expect to earn $26,950, per year, and if you fall in the upper 10%, you can expect to earn $70,100, per year.

Moreover, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can earn approximately $42,150, per year.

What is the Job Outlook for Anger Management Therapists?

The career outlook for anger management therapists is excellent. In fact, mental health counseling jobs are expected to increase 23% by 2026. This growth will stem from an increase in insurance-covered mental health services. In addition, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling jobs are also expected to increase 23% by 2026. Employment opportunities in these sectors will stem from an increase in insurance-covered mental health and substance abuse counseling services.

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