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Even When You Don't See It, Change Is Occurring

April 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 128

A few nights ago in my anger management class, a student looked perplexed as I commended her on the progress she had been making the last few weeks. She had no clue why she was receiving this praise. After all, she had begun the class ranting and raging about a terrible day and how badly she wanted to leave class and "kick someone's ass." She went on and on about how angry she was and how she was ready to skip class before she finally forced herself to drive over. She continued on about how someone had recently wronged her and she needed to get revenge on that person. I allowed this young lady to talk for a few minutes as the class and I both listened closely at her racing thoughts and intense feelings. I wanted to see where she would go.

Just to give some background, this was a smart and bold twenty-something girl who came in a few weeks ago with a feisty attitude and very little regard for anyone who told her anything against her own beliefs. No one told her what to do and no one ever made her feel bad. She remained mostly quiet for a few sessions and at times rolled her eyes during discussions. That changed to complaining about everyone else in her life and blaming her upbringing for teaching her how to be "hard." After a few weeks, she started to turn to herself and began asking some valuable questions. That's when things got good for her. I could see it. I saw it in her eyes, her attitude, and body language. She became less guarded and relaxed in class. She was ready.

Last Tuesday evening, as I let her continue venting, she slowly moved herself into a direction of challenging her own thoughts and, yes, even expressing some regret for her own actions. She didn't notice this in herself. Once she finished her outburst, the room became quiet and everyone nervously giggled at her very apparent anger. I looked straight at her and said, "Great job." I asked if anyone in class remembered what she was like a few weeks ago and if they could point out what was different about her. After some thought, her own peers were able to point out a few very important pieces of progress. One, she was there. In class and not kicking anyone's "ass." Two, she was talking much differently than she had been when she first walked in. Sure, she was still getting angry. But, her anger looked much different. She was starting to think about her anger. Question it. Challenge it. I reflected back her own statements and reminded her that a few weeks ago she would have never chosen to come to class instead of fight. She would have never admitted to feeling "a little bit bad" about what she wanted to do to this person. She would have never looked beyond the moment and evaluated the consequences of her behavior.

So yes, she is still very angry and making many mistakes. But now she is willing to look at herself and what she is responsible for. She is thinking and challenging her thoughts and choices. This is only the beginning for this very tough young lady and she still has a long way to go. But this moment was a great start.

Daybreak Counseling Service Shannon Munford MS 855-662-6437

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