Extreme Conflict Management


      The ultimate purpose in seeking psychotherapy is to become your own therapist.  On occasion, you may find yourself acting as therapist for your loved ones.  This is very commonly done by parents with their children.  In fact, the parent is probably the best therapist for a child.  You certainly have frequent access to your kids!  It may be a little trickier with your spouse though.  You might have to make it look like changing is their own idea.  Good luck with that.

Therapy is always about change so if you don’t want change stay away from therapy.  The solution to many problems will involve some change.  But, in marriage and family life, the problems, like wonders, never cease.  You will have opportunities!  Spouses and parents can do a lot to help themselves and their loved ones get through difficult situations (i.e. help them change.)  But there may be some frustration involved before you can get there.

Since conflict and frustration are inevitable, so is anger.  Anger, like other emotions, is contagious.  If you have a plan going in, it’s going to be easier to control your own angry behavior.  Then, by using a simple method, you can help your loved one to control theirs, too.  This is where you start doing “therapy”.

The simple method I recommend is called Confrontation Counseling.  I learned it while working with juvenile delinquents at the Florida Keys Marine Institute, a highly praised treatment program for wayward youth.  It works well in families, too.  Here’s how it goes.

When angry behavior gets out of hand, you just focus on that specific behavior until it ceases or at least is under control.  Yelling, getting in your face, threats and violence all make it impossible to continue a discussion with any hope of resolving an issue.

Since resolution is the goal, you calmly refuse to engage the issue until resolution is again possible.  Instead, you tell the angry person that they must stop the disruptive behavior before you will go on with the discussion.

It will help if you do not stand toe-to-toe with the angry person.  Don’t make yourself a target.  You are not trying to control them.  You’re asking them to control themselves.  Back off a little.  Turn away but don’t run away.

Anger is not a problem to be solved.  It’s just an emotion.  It’s the behavior associated with anger that is disruptive, destructive and sometimes dangerous.  We must all learn to monitor and control angry behavior to have healthy relationships.

Confrontation Counseling is a way you can help your loved ones to regain control so that conflicts can be resolved.  And it couldn’t be simpler.  Hopefully, with a little consistent and patient counseling from you, they will learn to control themselves and we will all be a little safer.

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