Anger Management – Case Study

An argument between Maggie and her mother becomes heated. Maggie stops arguing, runs to her room, and closes the door. She takes a few lengthy inhalations in and exhales out slowly. To distract her from her feelings of anger, she then calls her friend, Maya, and they discuss the upcoming school dance. Soon, Maggie is laughing and planning her outfit.

Do you believe that Maggie is managing her anger effectively? Why or why not? 

Yes, I believe Maggie is managing her anger effectively. She didn’t want the emotions to get out of control. In the lecture, we learned about the three phases in the aggression cycle; the buildup, explosion, and aftermath (“Basics of Anger: Anger Management 101 the Kennedy-King College,” n.d.). What Maggie did was cut the cycle while in the buildup phase, and her anger control plan was to take a timeout. According to the Anger Management manual used in the lecture, taking a timeout is an effective anger control strategy (SAMHSA, 2019). Informally, it entails stopping oneself from engaging in a discussion or argument that is causing the emotions to rise to avoid getting too angry. If the anger is escalating out of control, a timeout is a necessary immediate strategy. Maggie used this control plan by running to her room. Arguably, this strategy was not an optimal one based on the fact that it was her parent. But, the essence of it all was to prevent an outburst that could be disrespectful to her mother. Sometimes I find myself in a similar situation and getting out of such arguments has been the most effective way of avoiding unnecessary insults or awful behavior.

Maggie tried to relax through a deep-breathing exercise. The manual explains that sometimes the physical cues, such as increased heartbeat, can cause heightened emotions for a prolonged period. This response involves the nervous system, and a deep-breathing exercise can help. After running to her room, Maggie used this relaxation method before turning to social support, which is also helpful in stopping anger-causing thoughts. The handbook identifies thought-stopping as an anger management approach that is immediate. The plan is to stop the current pattern of anger thoughts before they cause an escalation of anger (SAMHSA, 2019). We can see this in Maggie’s situation, whereby she tries to distract herself from anger by calling her friend and discussing the upcoming school dance. With time, Maggie became happy and started planning for her outfit. In other words, her anger did not get into the explosion and aftermath phases of the aggression cycle, hence effective management.


The Basics of Anger: Anger Management 101. The Kennedy-King College [PowerPoint Slides]. (n.d.).

SAMHSA. (2019). ANGER MANAGEMENT for Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Clients

Anger is one of humanity’s most basic emotions triggered by various things, whether physical, emotional, or behavioral. People react differently when angry, but the overall aggression phase entails the buildup, explosion, and aftermath. Managing to control anger in the buildup phase is the key, as it prevents the consequences in the aftermath. The heated argument between Maggie and her mother is an example of the progression of anger through the buildup, explosion, and aftermath. Using the anger control plans highlighted in the lecture PowerPoint (“Basics of Anger: Anger Management 101. The Kennedy-King College,” n.d.), and the anger management handbook (SAMHSA, 2019), it is possible to judge whether Maggie managed her anger effectively. She suppressed her anger by getting out of the argument and talking with her friend (social support).

By referencing the anger controls plans discussed in the lecture and the anger management manual, Maggie managed her anger effectively by using two control plans. Firstly, Maggie was able to stop the anger thoughts by getting out of the argument. The lecture notes and the handbook describe this as the timeout plan. According to the manual, if the anger is escalating quickly, it is possible to avoid getting into the explosion and aftermath aggression phases using this plan (SAMHSA, 2019).

It is even more effective if combined with social support. Maggie rushed to her room after realizing her anger was escalating, which managed to stop the emotions. She also talked with her best friend about a different topic. This approach enabled her to suppress the anger emotions. Secondly, she tried to relax by engaging in a deep-breathing exercise. As highlighted in the lecture and the anger management handbook, deep-breathing exercise prevents anger escalation.

If Maggie did not stop the anger thoughts springing from the heated argument with her mother by taking a timeout, taking deep-breathing exercises, and talking with a friend, she could have become aggressive. Through her actions, the anger thoughts got suppressed. Maggie could alternatively use the conflict resolution model because whatever angered her was not addressed. The first step would be to identify the problem in the argument with her mother and identify her feelings about it.

Then, she could recognize a specific impact of the problem, for instance, limiting her from engaging in productive arguments with her mother in the future. She could then resolve the conflict by addressing it and accepting to discuss a possible solution to end the problem instead of avoiding it.