This month we will look at anger and I will share with you about AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) – a creative and effective way of dealing with anger and conflict.
Feeling angry is part of being human. It is a natural response to being attacked, insulted, deceived or frustrated. Anger can be useful and it can also be frightening. When something makes you angry, adrenalin causes your body to prepare for ‘fight or flight’, giving you energy and making you feel tense. Releasing this energy and tension is good, but it can be difficult to do so in ways that are constructive.
The way anger is expressed is an issue of concern in our society, The British Association of Anger Management, Boiling Point Report 2008 said that 1 in 10 people have trouble controlling their temper and 1 in 4 people say that they worry about how angry they feel sometimes. Almost a third of people said that they have a close friend or family member who has trouble controlling their anger.
There are some alarming statistics from the Sunday Times magazine in an article in July 2006 that include, 45% of us regularly lose our temper at work; 64% of Britons working in an office have had office rage; 27% of nurses have been attacked at work; 1 in 20 of us has had a fight with the person living next door and more than 80% of drivers say that they have been involved in a road rage incident.
GP’s report that they have few options for helping patients who come to them with anger problems.
The Alternatives to Violence Project started in the 1970’s when a group of long term prisoners in a New York Prison asked for help to develop a training program for inmates to help them learn how to respond to conflict better and build better relationships. The training had a transformational effect in the prison and it soon spread to other prisons. It has been in the UK since the 1990’s, and here the workshops are delivered in prisons and in the community.
The workshops are for anyone, from someone who wants to be less sarcastic to their teenage child to someone who is struggling with a tendency to be physically violent.
It is particularly helpful for people involved in the criminal justice system, victims and perpetrators, people with experience of domestic abuse and anyone experiencing mental ill health.
The AVP Level One workshop is a minimum of 15 hours of session time over three days. It combines learning through experience with training in communication and problem-solving skills. In structured group exercises, pairs work and discussions, workshop participants develop in the following areas, all of which help to build better relationships and handle conflict: self-esteem, self-awareness, self-confidence, listening, empathy, body language, trust and co-operation and conflict-handling skills.
I attended a level one workshop in Leeds last year and I found the experience thought provoking, informative and really enjoyable. I was impressed with the three facilitators, with their clear, honest, kind and professional delivery. One of the facilitator’s candidly shared that his introduction to an AVP workshop was when he was in prison and that it changed his life, so much so that when he was released he trained as an AVP Facilitator.
Attending the workshop helped me to identify an area in my life where I was uncomfortable with conflict and I was supported to look at better ways to deal with it. Not only did I feel positively changed by the workshops but I also witnessed changes in other participants. I left feeling more confident, happier, more self-aware and much better equipped to deal with conflict in my life.
AVP Britain is a national charity and all the facilitators are volunteers, for the Level One workshop there is a cost between £10 – £150 based on someone’s monthly income, but they don’t want money to be a reason someone doesn’t attend.