Increasing readiness to change anger: A motivational group intervention

Gregory Lee Futral

Abstract

The conceptualization and treatment of problematic anger has received increased attention in the literature in recent years. Among the challenges in working with persons experiencing anger-related difficulties, barriers in forming the therapeutic alliance (Tafrate & Kassinove, 2003), resistance behaviors (DiGiuseppe, 1995), and/or low motivation to change (DiGiuseppe & Tafrate, 2007) have been commonly identified as having the potential to derail the treatment process. Strategies developed to increase treatment motivation and readiness to change, such as those found in the literature on the transtheoretical model (TTM; Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982) and motivational interviewing (MI; Miller & Rollnick, 2002), have been proposed as potentially important areas of research inquiry and therapeutic application in the treatment of problem anger. The present study involved the development and evaluation of a motivational group intervention (integrating TTM-, MI-, and anger-related constructs and principles) designed to increase readiness to change in individuals who reported elevated trait anger and/or a tendency to express their anger aggressively and who obtained low scores on a measure of anger readiness to change. The study was divided into three phases. Phase I included 608 college students screened for potential inclusion in the study, with 69 participants completing Phase II (i.e., group intervention and control conditions) and 53 participants completing Phase III (i.e., 1-month follow-up). Results included an increase in readiness to change in the second phase of the study immediately following the group intervention for participants receiving the motivational intervention versus those in a no-treatment control group. These differences were not evident by one month post-treatment.