Group counseling for anger control: the effects of an intervention program with middle school students

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Virginia Tech


This study was designed to examine the degree to which a small group counseling intervention resulted in attitudinal and behavioral change with adolescent boys identified by their school principals as having conduct problems. An eight-week cognitive-behavioral intervention was co-led by pairs of student services personnel made up of school psychologists, school social workers, and school counselors. The anger management program, called "Better Ways of Getting Mad," was designed from Morganett's Skills for Living: Group Counseling Activities for Young Adolescents (1990). Participants were 87 sixth- or seventh-grade boys at seven middle schools in Prince William County, Virginia, who were not in any special education program.

A pretest-posttest, experimental/control group design was used. Variables studied were the extent of the conduct problems measured by the number of discipline referrals and scores on the Conduct Problem Scale of the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale-39 (CTRS-39); the experience of anger measured by the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI); the expression of anger measured by STAXI; and the cognitive understanding of anger and anger expression measured by the Morganett inventory. Posttest differences between Experimental and Control groups were examined through analyses of covariance.

The extent of conduct problems was found to be less for the experimental group than for the control group. A lower number of discipline referrals was also noted. However, neither of these differences were statistically significant. Students who participated in the counseling intervention did not show less intensity in state and trait anger. While students in the experimental group showed an anger expression index score lower than that of the control group score, this was not statistically significant. A significantly higher score in cognitive understanding was found in the experimental group.