Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

Anger Management Interventions

Academic journal article The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention

Anger Management Interventions

Article excerpt

Two anger management interventions for aggressive children, Anger Coping and Coping Power, are described in this review article, including conceptual underpinnings, session format and content, and outcome research findings. Important issues and considerations in the implementation of such interventions are also presented. Overall, Anger Coping and Coping Power have emerged as effective interventions for angry, aggressive children and represent useful resources for clinicians' work with this population.


The social-cognitive model serving as the conceptual framework for the Anger Coping Program and the Coping Power Program began as a model of anger arousal (Lochman, Nelson, & Sims, 1981). In this conceptualization of anger arousal, which stressed sequential cognitive processing, the child responded to problems such as interpersonal conflicts or frustrations with environmental obstacles (e.g., difficult schoolwork). However, it was not the stimulus event itself that provoked the child's anger and response, but rather the child's cognitive processing of and about that event. This first stage of cognitive processing (appraisal) consisted of labeling, attributions, and perceptions of the problem event, and of the child's subsequent anger. The second stage of processing (problem solution) consisted of the child's cognitive plan for his or her response to the perceived threat or provocation. This early anger arousal model indicated that the child's cognitive and emotional processing of the problem event and of his or her planned response led to the child's actual behavioral response and to the positive or negative consequences that the child experienced as a result. Our current Contextual Social-Cognitive model (Lochman & Wells, 2002a) includes a more comprehensive understanding of social-cognitive processes, maintains an emphasis on anger arousal, and includes recognition of the contextual factors which contribute to children's aggression.

Social cognition.

The current social-cognitive model of children's aggression (Lochman, Whidby, & Fitzgerald, 2000) underlying the child component of the Coping Power program evolved in large part because of research on aggressive children's social information-processing (Crick & Dodge, 1994). At the appraisal stage of processing, aggressive children have been found to recall fewer relevant cues about events (Lochman & Dodge, 1994), and to selectively attend to hostile rather than neutral cues (Gouze, 1987; Milich & Dodge, 1984). Aggressive children have been shown to have a hostile attributional bias, as they tend to excessively infer that others are acting toward them in a provocative and hostile manner (Katsurada & Sugawara, 1998; Lochman & Dodge, 1994, 1998).

At the problem solution stage of social-cognitive processing, aggressive children offer fewer competent verbal problem solutions (Dunn, Lochman, & Colder, 1997), including verbal assertion and compromise solutions (Joffe, Dobson, Fine, Marriage, & Haley, 1990; Lochman & Dodge, 1994; Lochman & Lampron, 1986), and more aggressive and direct action solutions (Lochman & Lampron, 1986; Pepler, Craig, & Roberts, 1998; Waas & French, 1989) to hypothetical vignettes describing interpersonal conflicts. Aggressive children cognitively generate more aggressive strategies in part because they expect that aggressive behavior will lead to desired outcomes (Lochman & Dodge, 1994; Zelli, Dodge, Lochman, Laird, & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 1999).

Anger arousal.

Anger is defined as an emotional response to situations that are perceived as threatening or offensive to oneself or others close to them (Lazarus, 1991). Anger can prove adaptive in that it is a motivator for action and tends to focus one's resources toward the threatening or offensive event (Goleman, 1995). …

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