Starving the Anger Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly

Sunday, April 1st, 2012 Book Review by Valerie Jackson

This book is designed to appeal to young people as well as the professionals and parents who support and care for them. The author, Kate Collins-Donnelly, is a therapist, psychologist and an anger management consultant in the UK.

She uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a tool in her workshops, therapy sessions and in her written work.The first thing I liked about this book was the fact that the author addresses the intended reader first – the young person who may seek self-help support and who may then wish to share with the adults.

The language is straight-forward and un-patronising. There are questions to answer to see if this is the sort of help the young person is in need of. For example, “Do you frequently feel angry?” “Do you find yourself hitting, punching, kicking, screaming or damaging things when you get angry?” “Do you feel like you have no control over how you feel and how you react when you get angry?”

It explains what CBT is and how there are links between all three aspects. She stresses that it is important to talk to a trusted adult about these things so the help will mean something.

The illustrations are taken from other young people’s perspectives and serve to reassure the reader that everyone reacts in their own unique way, but that may have been influenced by other’s behaviours or attitudes and reactions. The tasks are simple and non-threatening and encourage the reader to see that many people have felt as they do. Throughout the book there is vocabulary that will help express how the anger makes them feel. It looks at personal anger as well as group angry behaviour and how it may differ.

Through the book the reminder is always that whatever feelings we may have as a result of what someone else said or did, the anger and the behaviour are ours and we must own what we choose to do.

It encourages minute analysis of how the anger begins, how it grows and when it feels out of control. The gremlins can be starved and deprived of freedom by the individual thinking first and acting second. It introduces questions such as “Is it worth it?” What might happen if I behave in this way?”

The book is thin but packed with enough challenges and tasks to be a useful addition to the shelves of every school counsellor and youth worker. Whilst I cannot envisage young people going out to buy a copy, there are lots of ways to gain access to such an invaluable book.

The book is mainly geared towards the adolescent market, but I can see a use for this in primary school as well as with some adults. This book comes at a most topical time when films of domestic violence are being shown during the predominantly adolescent viewing times in the early evening to highlight how easy it is to become a victim or a perpetrator. Anger plays a major part in this.

Collins-Donnelly, Kate (2012) Starving the Anger Gremlin - A cognitive behavioural therapy workbook on anger management for young people

Jessica Kingsley Publishing

ISBN: 9781849052863

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