A 2014 study published by Cambridge University Press reported that approximately 7.8% of American adults struggle with poorly controlled anger, inappropriate anger, or intense anger. This study found that individuals struggling with mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, drug addiction, borderline personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder may be at higher risk for anger-related anxiety. Read on to learn about group therapy activities for individuals with anger issues.

There are several ways that dealing with anger can affect our lives. Someone with internal anger may struggle with negative self-talk and unhealthy thoughts about themselves. Someone struggling with externalizing anger may act out verbally or physically toward others. This may involve shouting and cursing. Another example of anger management can be making sarcastic or derogatory comments towards others. Although these individuals may not act like someone with outward anger, their actions are an example of unhealthy behavior.

Some signs that someone is having trouble controlling their anger may include:

  • It feels like you can’t control your anger
  • Regret what you say when you are angry
  • Notice that you are angry more often
  • Getting angry over small details
  • Being verbally or physically abusive towards others
  • Mood swings
  • When you are angry, feel tense
  • Friends or family have expressed concern about your anger

How does group therapy help angry people?

The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) explains that studies comparing the use of group and individual therapy to individuals struggling with anger management have found no significant differences in outcomes. The specific treatments used in both conditions are what will affect the outcomes a person may experience.

As an example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy interventions have been found to help individuals learn skills that can be used to manage their anger responses. Stress instillation training and relaxation skills have been found to be effective treatment interventions. DBT skills such as resilience and mindfulness skills were also supported in the study.

List of group therapy activities for anger management

As a Group Counselor, it is important to focus on the interventions used in these settings. This includes tailoring group activities to your group members and being aware of the struggles they are managing. Since your clients are in your group because they have trouble getting angry, it’s important to keep the group conversation on a healthy and productive path to avoid any conflict within the group that could undermine the group’s cohesion.

Some examples of group therapy activities for people with anger disorders include:

  1. Providing awareness about mindfulness and exploring ways that group members can apply mindfulness practices in their day. Ask each group member to identify 2 mindfulness skills they will try before the next group session where you can work on their practice.
  2. Using a balloon, ask group members to share an example that made them angry this week. Pop the bubble a little for the answers provided. Do this by asking what anger management skills were used during the week. Let some air out of the balloon for the given answers. Use this as an exercise to talk about the impact that coping and emotion regulation skills can have on our emotions. Ask the group to share the physical consequences, such as tension and headaches, that they experience when they let the balloon “inflate.”
  3. Ask the group to identify changes in their physical presence and thoughts as they go from calm-> anxious-> nervous-> angry-> angry. Encourage them to become more self-aware and more aware as they experience their emotions.
  4. Take time to talk about group members’ experiences with different emotions. For many, anger can be a more comforting emotion than other negative emotions such as sadness and loneliness. As a result, when these other negative emotions arise, they can unconsciously turn into anger. You can draw an iceberg and explain that the tip of the iceberg can often be anger, with various emotions remaining invisible.
  5. Provide the group with a list of coping skills that can be used for different emotions, including anger.
  6. Provide education about meditation practices and allow time to practice different meditation patterns. Take the time to explore their experiences and thoughts about using meditation in their daily lives.
  7. Take time to report on patterns of healthy relationships and concerns such as connection and empowerment. Explore examples of healthy relationships in their lives and examples of unhealthy relationships that the group can provide.
  8. Hold a focus group on brainstorming. For example; We encounter a situation or event. After the event, we have thoughts that cause our feelings that affect our behavior. Explore situations that the group believes lead to unhealthy or unwanted behaviors and what they can do to avoid those situations.
  9. Talk to the group about using self-soothing skills to cope with distressing emotions. Ask the group to identify pleasurable experiences related to the five senses that they can engage in when they begin to feel distressed.
  10. Take the time to talk about radical acceptance and the positive impact it can have on our well-being. Discuss how this skill can reduce resentment and relieve some of the pain they carry.
  11. Take some time to discuss the role our self-talk plays in our emotions. Allow the group to identify the negative comments they are thinking internally and see how they can respond to them in a healthy way when they come up. Is it possible to make a thought challenge to refute the comment? Can they narrow down the event that contributed to the thought?
  12. Introduce the DEARMAN DBT skill to the group and discuss the benefits it can have in being able to communicate effectively with others. Communication is an important life skill that affects every relationship in a person’s life.
  13. Take time to focus on boundaries. Have the group identify the boundaries they have and practice communicating their boundaries through role play. This can include physical boundaries and emotional boundaries.
  14. Take time to discuss the use of placement skills and examples of when they might be used. Give the group time to practice the examples discussed. Ask group members to try the two new reasoning skills outside of the group before the next session.
  15. Take time to talk about the importance of self-care practices. Discuss healthy and effective self-care practices with the group. A common misunderstanding is that self-care is more about spending time or money on something we do occasionally than fitting a behavior into our daily routine.
  16. Take time to talk about the role of our physical health in our mental health. For example, sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, and taking care of any physical discomfort can have a direct impact on mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and anger. Ask the group to identify a change in their daily routine that would improve their physical health. This includes drinking more water, going to bed 30 minutes earlier, or taking a 15-minute walk outside every day.
  17. Take time to talk about the benefits of “taking a break” when you see group members starting to get angry. This may involve physically leaving the space they are in to use emotion regulation skills, such as deep breathing, before returning to the conversation. Another option would be to try to change what they were doing to a more pleasant activity for a short time and then go back to the situation that made them angry. Talk about examples of what this might look like for your group members.
  18. Take time to talk about triggers like HALT with the group. Explore how group members behave when they feel hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Talk about the importance of being in tune with their bodies to see when these triggers occur.
  19. Ask the group to keep a journal of when they get angry. Ask them to identify the event or situation that triggered their anger and to rate the intensity of the anger they felt. Ask them to look back at their journal entries after letting go of their anger to see if there is anything they could have done differently in the situation. Could they use any coping skills or change the way they communicate? Can they see a difference in the severity of the situation that caused their anger?
  20. Create a hazard game that includes topics related to your group members. For a friendly game, divide the group into two groups. Topics may include coping skills, mindfulness practices, forms of meditation, effective communication skills, healthy boundaries, and self-care.

Final Thoughts on Choosing Group Therapy Activities for Your Angry Clients

When choosing group therapy activities for people with anger, you’ll want to consider the age of your group and the themes you observe in their experiences. This information can help you tailor your group therapy activities to be appropriate and appropriate for your group members.

If you prefer to use structured group activities that provide group members with worksheets or handouts, use resources like these Anger Management Worksheets can provide you with useful tools for your group.


Okuda, M., Picazo, J., Olfson, M., Hasin, DS, Liu, SM, Bernardi, S., & Blanco, C. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of anger in society: findings from a national survey. CNS spectra, 20(2), 130–139. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852914000182

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