Researchers at the Center for Psychiatry Research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, had to close their recruitment site after a few weeks because there was so much demand for help with anger problems.
“Typically, it’s very difficult to recruit participants for treatment studies. But for the anger study, it was very easy,” he said Johan Bjurebergassistant professor at the center.
The study included 234 participants, all of whom had significant anger issues. Participants were each randomly assigned to receive four weeks of either mindful emotion awareness, cognitive reappraisal, or a combination of the two strategies, delivered online.
“Many people with anger problems are embarrassed, and we think the Internet format is particularly suited to this group because they don’t have to wait in a reception room or sit face-to-face with a therapist and talk about their anger,” Bjureberg said in the institute’s news release.
Mindful awareness of emotions is focused on the ability to notice and accept your feelings and thoughts without any judgment or acting on them. Cognitive reappraisal involves focusing on the ability to reinterpret thoughts and situations and identify alternative thoughts that do not trigger difficult feelings.
Combination therapy was most effective, although all options were associated with reductions in anger and aggression at the end of treatment.
Participants had significantly lower levels of externalizing anger, aggression, and anger rumination after the combined treatment compared to the treatment alone. They didn’t have anger control.
For those who experienced particularly high levels of anger at the start of the study, the combined treatment was particularly effective.
This study reinforces existing theories that posit that difficulties in emotion regulation and event interpretation are a major contributing factor to anger management problems.
“Our results suggest that a very short treatment of just four weeks delivered over the Internet with minimal therapist support is effective in reducing anger problems. We hope that follow-up studies will support this finding and that the treatment can be offered more widely as part of regular care.” Bjureberg said.
The findings were recently published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Scientists from Örebro University in Sweden collaborated on the study.
The American Psychological Association has more anger management.
SOURCE: Karolinska Institute, press release, 12 December 2022