Anger management classes teach students to control

By Jane Fernandez

Anger management classes are back at East Los Angeles College teaching students methods to help control their emotions and live an anger free life.

The program takes students on a 12-week treatment program, which will help them develop the skills that are necessary to successfully manage anger.

Its purpose is for participating students to learn to manage anger effectively, stop violence or the threat of violence, develop self-control over thoughts and actions as well as receive support from  others.

Students who attend the classes will learn strategies that will help them manage their anger. These strategies include time-outs, breathing exercises and mental activities.

For time-outs, participants take a few deep breaths and think before acting. Thought stopping is a strategy that is used to calm students down and breathing exercises tie into many of the strategies and often help participants relax when their anger is escalating.

“The normal population has anger management.” said Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, a licensed clinical social worker and the programs director.

Rosenthal teaches students how to differentiate anger from other feelings through assertive training, which is the ability to express anger in a respectful way. The program started last fall when health professor Marilyn Ladd and her associates brought anger amongst students on campus to Rosenthal’s attention.

Ladd came up with the idea for the program after she noticed anger kept surfacing throughout the semester.

Ladd, who typically has about 175 students a semester in her health class, said that when she gave her students a “Behavior Change Contract.”

This contract detailed an exercise asking students what they wanted to change about their behaviors during that semester, most students wrote that they wanted to find a way to get rid of their anger.

“Anger was an issue when the teachers asked,” said  Rosenthal, who now helps students monitor their feelings daily throughout the course by using an “anger meter,” which lets a student monitor their anger.

She also talks to them about ways they could calm their anger. “Students need to develop a set of strategies to effectively manage their anger,” she said.

Students interested in participating need to have their ELAC  identification card and proof of enrollment. The program is on a first-come, first-serve basis and there is a 10 student maximum in each class.

So far the first group, which started on the third week of the semester, has gone through four sessions. The second group starts the fifth week of the semester. The program has grown since it started last semester.

The sessions had to be expanded to two per week since the program has gained popularity among students. Rosenthal always notices a dramatic change of behavior towards anger in her students by the end of the semester.

“People have been very amazed at themselves, how they have been able to change and how they feel more at peace with themselves.” she said.

Although the classes are non-credited, students are encouraged by their professors to take them as extra credit.

“It’s really helped. Everyone in their life has noticed a difference,” said Ladd about students who have taken the class.

The classes are offered to all ELAC students who have paid their $11 Health fee as part of the students health center free activities. Although the deadline has passed for this semester, students may expect the classes to be continued in Spring. There will be two new groups in Spring 2012. Rosenthal and Ladd like to remind students that “there is always a choice.”

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