Nicola and Helen introduced us to the work they had undertaken as facilitators to evaluate the effectiveness of a transactional analysis (TA) methodology working with a group of male volunteers experiencing difficulties in managing anger.

The objectives of the project were to develop motivation for change; develop appropriate expressions of anger; increase control of anger management and to improve interpersonal relationships using a mixture of questionnaires and interviews.

There were four phase identified for the work:

  • Phase 1: contracting
  • Phase 2: taking responsibility for their own anger
  • Phase 3: tools for interpersonal growth
  • The embodied experience

Nicola and Helen were mindful that two female facilitators working with a group of men had the potential to create tensions within the group and took care to debrief after each session, reflecting on both the group process and the process between the two of them and the support they could provide each other.

The therapy sessions allowed group process to be inter-woven with psycho-education to create a strong working group in which insights to behavior were gained and personal awareness developed through challenge and support.  Contracts for change were set for both the group and individuals.  The group met for 1.5 hours at a time over a period of months.

Working in small groups, we made notes on what anger means for us.  Nicola and Helen then talked about authentic, healthy anger, which may lead to positive change by individuals and groups versus inauthentic anger, referred to in TA as a Racket Feeling (a term used to denote an emotional version of a confidence trick).

It was interesting to hear how many people identify with struggling to control their anger and the limited resources available to GPs to help patients.

An example of challenge from one group member to another was given and the learning outcomes generated for the group as a result.  This example of the development of the participants’ awareness was a useful demonstration of the successful progress work of the research study.

As the work was not their own, and is, as yet unpublished, Nicola and Helen were unable to reveal the findings of the research.  It will be interesting to hear more about the study findings for this increasingly common problem when they become available.

Karen Creed