Aggression replacement training: what is it and phases of this technique?
Let's see what aggression replacement training is and how it is used in patients.
There are different ways of approaching a case of aggressive behavior in children and aggression replacement training is one of the best known.
Below we will break down the most important points of this technique to understand its fundamentals and where its efficacy comes from. We will also see in what context it was developed and how to apply it correctly to achieve success.
What is aggression replacement training?
Aggression replacement training or ART (aggression replacement training) is a psychological technique oriented to the intervention in cases of adolescents (mainly, but also adults or children) whose behaviors are usually violent.. The creators of this program were the American psychologists Barry Glick and Arnold P. Goldstein.
They drew on parts of other existing models, with the aim of achieving a technique that brought together the strengths of all of them. For example, one of the characteristics used comes from none other than Jean Piaget, and is peer work, so that the adolescent can learn from a peer, as studies show that they pay more attention when this is the case.
It is a cognitive-behavioral technique, as it seeks to generate changes in the subject's thinking and behavior, with the objective of substituting aggressive behaviors for others that are adjusted to social interactions. and thus stop the conflicts in which he was constantly involved.
Aggression replacement training is a particularly popular program in North and South American countries, as well as in several European countries and Australia. In some juvenile facilities and even in correctional facilities, it is common to use this model to try to get inmates to experience an improvement, reducing their violent behaviors and thus achieving the reinsertion that these institutions seek.
For example, in Washington, aggression replacement training was one of the programs chosen, along with three others, to be used in projects associated with the Community Justice Accountability Act that was enacted in 1997, thanks to the evidence of improvement that the data demonstrated.
Although it is not the technique most widely used in all these centers, it is one of the main ones and is gradually gaining popularity, so that professionals believe it is a promising advance in order to ensure that people suffering from aggressive behaviors find the tools they need to replace such behaviors with others.
Parts of this psychological technique
Aggression replacement training is implemented through three very distinct phases. The objective is to learn a series of skills so that they can be used instead of the aggressive reactions that the person usually shows. The program is designed to be carried out over a period of ten weeks, with a total of three sessions of one hour each.
Let us now look at each of the three phases in detail.
1. Social skills training
The first phase of aggression replacement training has to do with teaching social skills. In this case, authors Glick and Goldstein took part of Albert Bandura's theory for their model.. The point is that, by working on social skills, the aim is to modify the more behavioral part of people with an aggressive nature, especially adolescents.
Many of these people lack such social skills and therefore their tendency is to resort to violence naturally. Therefore, it seems logical to think that, if we provide them with these tools, their tendency to violent behavior should be diminished.
The social skills program of aggression replacement training contains many points for the subject to learn to cope in a variety of situations. For example, when making a complaint or criticism, to put yourself in the other person's place and understand the emotions that the other person is having and even understand the other person's anger without losing your calm.
Also It will also help you to anticipate a dialogue that is expected to be tense for whatever reason, without losing your temper.without losing your temper and, of course, without ever getting to the point of aggression. He will learn not to let himself be carried away by peer pressure. Likewise, he will acquire the ability to assert his position calmly when he receives an unfair accusation. Of course, he will also understand the importance of helping others.
It will be especially important to learn how to express one's own feelings towards others. Finally, work will also be done so that the person learns to accept negative situations or situations of failure.
Each session focuses on one of these particular social skills and discusses the thoughts and actions involved, teaching the adolescent who is participating in aggression replacement training how to act on those teachings. To make the learning more fluid, they are asked to think about past situations.
2. Anger management
The second phase of aggression replacement training is properly learning to manage anger. Therefore, it would be about adolescents learning to control the affective part of aggression.. In this case, learning will consist, in the first place, of eliminating the antisocial skills that the subject has been acquiring and then replacing them with others of a prosocial nature.
The objective is that young people learn to deal with situations that previously made them angry, in a new way, in which they do not experience those feelings. To this end, the anger control chain is worked on. The chain begins with the triggering stimuli, which can come from the subject himself or from the outside. As a result, signals of the anger to come, such as physiological activation, can be observed.
Once these signals have been detected, the subject must be aware of them and try to reduce anger by means of three different mechanismsFirst, a series of deep breaths, then a countdown, and finally, visualizing scenarios that are pleasant for the person. The aim is to take the focus away from the stressful stimulus and bring it to a much more peaceful place.
The adolescent will keep reminding himself that he is capable of controlling and mastering himself. He will also think about what would happen if he were to lose control. In addition, he will try to perform a prosocial skill instead of the antisocial one he would have performed if he had not controlled the anger chain thanks to the aggression replacement training. Once the situation has passed, you will evaluate the development of the situation.
3. Moral reasoning
The last phase of aggression replacement training deals with moral reasoning. deals with moral reasoning, i.e. the cognitive part.. The aim of this training is for young people to acquire a new moral perspective on their actions. For this purpose, we are going to work fundamentally on four errors of thought that are those that generally lead to acquire a dimension of morality that does not fit with reality.
The first of these is egocentric thinking. It has to do with all the ruminations of the type "everything bad happens to me", "only good things happen to others", "I am very unhappy", "I have very bad luck", etc.
The second thought is the one in which it is taken for granted that the worst option is the one that will always happen, denoting a great pessimism.denoting great pessimism.
The third thinking error is the one that makes the the person blames others and therefore assumes an external locus of control. The blame will always be on others, so, in contrast, he will always be a victim of the actions of others and society, which push him to act that way, because they give him no other alternative.
Finally, there is mislabeling or minimization, which serves the individual to justify his actions. For example, stealing or exercising violence against others, claiming that many people also do it.
This phase of the aggression replacement training is fundamentally formed by the knowledge that Lawrence Kohlberg expressed in his work about the stages of moral development, another example of the compilation work that the creators of this technique carried out, to unify different theories that allowed them to compose an effective system for the control of aggression, especially during adolescence.
- Glick, B., Goldstein, A.P. (1987). Aggression replacement training. Journal of Counseling & Development. Wiley Online Library.
- Goldstein, A.P. (1994). The Prosocial Gang: Implementing Aggression Replacement Training. ERIC.
- Goldstein, A.P., Glick, B., Gibbs, J.C. (1998). Aggression replacement training: A comprehensive intervention for aggressive youth (Rev. ed.). Research Press.
- Goldstein, A.P., Nensén, R., Daleflod, B., Kalt, M. (2004). New perspectives on aggression replacement training. Wiley Online Library.
- Holmqvist, R., Hill, T., Lang, A., (2009). Effects of aggression replacement training in young offender institutions. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)