Do you need anger management, a men’s behavioural change program, or individual/couples counselling? And the difference.

The treatment for a child/young person who struggles to control their behaviour is very different compared to treatment for an adult who has explosive harmful behaviours. I will be talking about adults (and mostly men though women can also use power and control in relationships) as that is my main client group. I will see adolescents and families but not children (8 or younger). I will be using gendered language for ease of reading. Treatment for adults can also be different depending on the level of motivation and buy-in from the person.

If you are searching for ways to control your own anger, of if you’re part of a couple that’s trying to find anger management for couples then I respect and applaud you for being proactive identifying the issue and looking for help. It’s hard and confronting to admit you have a part in the pattern. I welcome and encourage you .

Or are you looking for an anger management service for your partner, your husband, your wife? That’s a lot trickier. Will they be open to your suggestions or will they tell you to just bug off?

There’s a difference between anger management programs and men’s behavioural change programs. There’s a little bit of overlap (barely) but the biggest difference is that men’s behavioural change programs are specifically designed for men who use power, control and violence (including psychological, verbal, sexual or physical). Often attendance is court ordered but other times it’s voluntary.

Anger management is for a man who cannot stop lashing out at his parents, partner/s, kid/s, boss, co-workers, strangers, everyone in their life because they have not been taught how to self-regulate their emotions and self-soothe. This man has a problem controlling his anger.

Men’s behaviour change programs are for a man who can bottle up all his stress and anger from work to explode at home at his family because he knows if he explodes at his boss/co-workers he will be hold accountable. This man is abusive.

Do you see the difference? There’s intention and choice for the man who’s abusive towards his family.

Things like drugs and alcohol, stress, childhood trauma, etc are factors that do not cause domestic violence. They are excuses for conscious choices to behave badly.

You might want to bring your angry or abusive partner to couples counselling because you love them and want to keep your family together. It would be best for the angry/abusive partner to both go to their own individual counselling AND a group program (I will provide links to NSW programs below.)

However, I know things aren’t so straightforward. Maybe your partner doesn’t think he has a problem – maybe he thinks you’re just overreacting and that you’re the problem! Maybe the only way you think you can get him into therapy is to bring him to couples therapy.

That can be a good way to get him into therapy but be careful to find a therapist who is trained in men’s behaviour change. Otherwise, the therapist may miss the signs and do “normal” couples therapy which won’t support long term change as it’s not address the underlying abusive behaviours and beliefs. There’s not a lot of counsellors who have specific training in this so you should ask them directly if they have training or experience with men who use power and control.

I do have the training and experience, and I believe that these men (or women) are not inherently bad or beyond hope.

To other services looking for referral pathways: I welcome refers for individual counselling for men who are already attending behaviour change programs as best practice is to attend both individual and group therapy.

To clients: Come as you are. As long as you’re open to exploring and being curious about yourself then you are welcome. Therapy is not meant to be easy.

List of Accredited Men’s Behaviour Change Programs within NSW:

Be careful that the program you or your partner is signing up to is an accredited program. There are many programs out there that are not accredited and therefore not evidence-based or regulated and may do more harm than good.

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