by Christian Thomas Golden
Today (5/20/2013) I ran a group therapy session on anger control. For those of you who do not know, I am a Youth Counselor at a residential center (that’s the politically correct term for a youth detention center in New York state). One of my duties is to run weekly group therapy sessions on anger control.
Again, today I ran a group on anger control. I’ve been running this anger control group for over a month now. I’d been saying pretty much the same thing every week, so I knew I had to change it up this week.
About 30 minutes before the session was to begin I began brainstorming ideas to try and run a session that would actually grab and hold on to the attention of my audience (twelve 15-17 year old’s who don’t want to be there in the first place and know that as soon as the group is over they will finally get to enjoy what little recreation time they get each day).
Power. What is power? Power is the ability to cause change. How does one develop power? How does one develop the ability to cause change? What does one need in order to cause change?
Tools. Okay, but is that all? No! What if you do not know how to use the tool? Ah, so you must have the appropriate tools as well as the understanding of how to use those tools. What tools are we talking about?
Well, let’s start with something concrete. A shovel. Okay, you want to cause change to your back yard. Depending on what change you want to cause, it’s possible you would need a shovel. Do you have your shovel? Check. Great. Now, dig that hole. What? How? What do I do? I know I need to use this shovel, but I’ve never seen anyone use one before and nobody’s told me how to use it.
[Subject jabs shovel at ground, handle first. Doesn’t work. Subject throws shovel at ground. Doesn’t work. Subject jabs shovel at ground, spade first. Shovel breaks through dirt. Over time, subject develops proper form and becomes proficient at shoveling dirt]
Let’s review. In the beginning of that scenario, did the subject (the person who wanted to cause change to his back yard) have the power necessary to cause the change to his back yard? No. All he had was the desire to cause change. Next, he retrieved the tool that was necessary (oh, and wouldn’t someone have had to have told him what tool he needed?). Okay, so he now has the desire to cause a change as well as the tool to cause that change. Now what? Is that all? Does he now have the ability to cause the change he desires? No. He does have power, but not his desired power. He now has the power to discover the correct use of the tool in order to cause the desired change.
Okay, so now he has the desire, he has the tool, and after trial and error he has discovered the correct usage of the tool in order to cause the change he desires.
Now he has power.
What does this have to do with anger control?
These young men are obsessed with power. They think that the ultimate goal in life is to be able to make anyone do anything they want. That is an extreme thirst for power. So I ask them the following questions:
If you cannot even control yourself, can you consistently and effectively control anyone else?
If you cannot control your emotions, do you really have any power even over yourself?
If you do not have the power necessary to cause change to how you react to your anger, do you have the power to cause change to how other people act and react to situations?
So, answer this question to yourself: are you powerful or powerless in relation to your anger?
I believe I actually benefited from this session more than the youth! I never really broke down the elements of power until this point. Power requires three things: will, tools, and wisdom. You must first want to cause change. Then, you must acquire the right tools to cause that specific change. Finally, you must understand how to properly employ said tools to cause the specific change you desire.
No single thing equates to power (money, sex, reputation, love, weapons) without all three elements of power being present.