Anger Is My Friend: Rethinking Teen Anger Management


The resources listed on this page accompany the book,
Anger Is My Friend: Rethinking teen anger management, by Sam Ross.

Watch the video to find out more and click here to read more about it. buy button buy button

As I say in the book, good programs of work to use with angry teens “are only good when delivered within the context of a trusting relationship, where the young person has spoken and you have listened and tailored the program personally for them”.

The book provides insights into the thinking patterns of angry teens and practical steps to help you build that relationship.

The resources listed below are ones that can help you build that relationship and help you address their anger issues.




Having a selection of worksheets or activities to go through with a young person is really important. However, as I say in the chapter, ‘What’s the point? Magical Tools and Resource Rabbit Holes’, you don’t have to follow a workbook or program blindly. You have to tailor it to the individual in front of you and their particular needs. So when I suggest these books below, please keep your ears, your eyes and your imaginations switched on.

Don’t do irrelevant worksheets; just because worksheets are presented in a particular order does not mean that you have to do them in that order, or have to do them all!

Throw in some of your own ideas, a film clip to illustrate a point, a game that gets them thinking.

And don’t be afraid to mix it up. I often will use worksheets, games and activities from many different sources with one teen. Sometimes worksheets in a book are quite ‘samey’ so a change of style, verbal and visual can be a welcome change for all.

So use these (or any other) books as a guide, but please keep your brains engaged. If your brain is not engaged you can be sure that the teen in front of you has switched their brain off too, and well that really rather defeats the object of the exercise!


The Anger Workbook for Teens

I only relatively recently came across this book, and it is one of my favourites, being one of the smartest workbooks I have seen on the market.

This is written by someone who clearly understands the psychological complexities of anger and who also has the ability to write for teens in a way that is easily understandable. Cheesy and formulaic it is not; respectful, engaging and realistic it is.

Some of the issues it helps teens explore are: the sources of their anger, familial influence, taking responsibility for own actions, misinterpretation of situations, using anger as an emotional mask, communication skills, relaxation skills, alternate forms of expression (writing etc).

I really don’t think you could go far wrong getting a copy of this book; it is well worth the money.


Strategies for Anger Management: Reproducible Worksheets for Teens and Adults

If you want a wide range of worksheets to choose from when working with angry teens, then this book certainly ticks the box. It very much lends itself to the idea of a tailoring a program of work to an individual.

The first section of worksheets helps people understand their attitudes and beliefs about anger and identify the emotions and situations at its roots. Again, it is psychologically smart in that it recognises that anger is a secondary emotion that often functions to cover up other underlying emotions. The second section of sheets challenges people to examine their responses to emotional triggers and to learn and practice new, more effective ways of responding to anger.

While the worksheets do look a little dated, the content is still sound. I have sometimes used them as the basis for a session with a young person but have updated the presentation, or made it a little more engaging with the use of multimedia. For example, using a worksheet to explore how someone in a television program or movie responds to anger before turning to look at the individual teens anger. (Practical strategies for engaging difficult to engage teens, such as looking at an emotion generally first rather than putting teens on the spot immediately, is covered in the book ‘Anger Is My Friend’).



Here you will find links to resources or further reading that were covered in the book. They are organised by chapter title.

Teen Empathy

   Why Don’t They Care? Unveiling the Victims,

   Discovering Empathy


The Teen Brain

Report on MRI research showing that teenagers’ brains function significantly differently to adults when identifying emotions which can often lead to misinterpretation.

The Aspergers View of Empathy

An adult blogger with Aspergers, expressing the difficulties associated with facial interpretation and consequently the challenges of empathising.

Substance Abuse & Anger

Substance use and abuse often coexist with anger and violence. Anger and violence often can have a causal role in the initiation of drug and alcohol use and can also be a consequence associated with substance abuse. Individuals who experience traumatic events, for example, often experience anger and act violently, as well as abuse drugs or alcohol.

In these situations specialist advice should be sought from practitioners experienced in working with both of these issues. However, I do live in the real world and am well aware that these sorts of services often do not exist for adolescents who often fall through the cracks of service provision, or there are absurdly long waiting lists which are no use when something needs to be done now.

A freely downloadable intervention program created by the US Department of Health and Human Services is available which may be of use: Anger Management for Substance Abuse & Mental Health Clients. It was specifically written to try and plug the anger intervention gap in adult substance abuse programs but can be adapted for a younger audience. It includes a participant and a facilitator manual.


Restorative Justice

Implementing Restorative Justice: A Guide for Schools

This freely downloadable guide explains the principles of restorative justice, the social (and statistically proven) advantages of this approach to harmful behaviour over a zero-tolerance approach, the different restorative justice methods, and how to apply them in a school setting. While it is primarily written for an education audience, it is equally informative and applicable to other settings.

Restorative Justice Online

This website has a wealth of information for those interested in Restorative Justice. With ‘rooms’ for particular professions, catering to anyone from students, professors, legislators, police officers, prison workers and those that work with victims. Each room includes links to resources and examples of restorative justice in action.


Walking Towards Empathy: It’s All in the Shoes Worksheets

Below are the worksheets that appear in the book, including the example text. You can view and download the worksheets with and without the example text.

Click on them to view, save and/or print.

As is mentioned in the book, initially using third person scenarios, rather than personal experiences when completing the worksheets (and particularly the Ripple Effect worksheet) can be enormously beneficial in encouraging teens to engage with the issue of victim awareness and empathy. Below the worksheets are some suggestions as to some multimedia resources you could use.

Ripple Effect Worksheet

Victim Awareness 2 chart  Breaking the Cycle eg book

Victim Awareness 2 chart  Breaking the Cycle blank

Looking In Out

Looking In Out


Multimedia resources


Our Crime

A series of BBC documentaries (on YouTube) exploring the impact of youth crime on the victims and those around them. Although these are not all related to anger. they are useful for helping teens to get into the mindset of considering how negative actions impact a larger number of people to a greater extent than they often first realise. From this point you are then more likely to get them to consider their own actions and how they affect others, even if they are of a less serious nature. It’s all about practicing putting themselves in other people’s shoes.

Attacked 1. Attacked
The story of two attacks in south London which led to the tragic deaths of two very different victims, including interviews with the victims’ families and friends, showing how many more people were impacted than the primary victim.

Robbed 2. Robbed
This film explores the consequences of teenage robbing sprees that spiralled out of control, causing fear, trauma and even the loss of a life. Following the perpetrator’s online trail of MSN messages, YouTube uploads and boasting on social networks, it also documents the experience of the victims targeted during three very different street robberies and explores their and their families’ attempts to come to terms with the aftermath of terrifying attacks.

Speed 3. Speed
Boys and their toys – at the heart of this film lies the pursuit of speed and the crimes committed when young drivers get behind the wheel. It follows four very different stories: a gang of car thieves who bring terror to an inner city estate; the story of a drunken prank when a bus is taken on a joyride which ends in an unexpected destination; a terrifying police car chase; and the story of how a life lived online is brought to a tragic end in a real car crash, but how the online aftermath has continued to haunt the victim’s family and friends.


Don’t Make Me Angry

Don't Make Me Angry

A short clip showing an angry teen, Michael, with some insight into how his angry outbursts affect him, his mother and his sisters.

Further clips and activities from the two series of this programme can be used at the Channel 4 Learning website.

This series explores the issues that are often behind anger and how to resolve them by focusing on a different young person and their family each episode. The psychologist involved, Dr Rachel Andrews, shows how building a positive relationship with young people and listening to them is key to helping them turn their behaviour around.

Unfortunately only clips are available on the Channel 4 learning website rather than full episodes, but there are numerous clips and activities to do around them that can help teens start to think about their own anger issues while ‘safely’ looking at others. (To get to the clips and activities, click on the episode name, e.g. ‘Scott’ and on the left-hand menu, ‘Outline, ‘Activities’ and ‘Links’ options will appear).

An increasing number of full episodes are being uploaded to Vimeo. Currently available episodes are listed below. Where a password is required, enter ‘TW’:

Series 1: Episode 1: Scott


Reading Emotions

For some teens, being aware of and correctly interpreting the facial and body language of others is a difficult task. Enabling them to be more aware of and to respond appropriately to the emotions of others is a key skill required if they are to function well in social situations. Having a greater awareness of others can also help them to gain better control of their own emotions. The following are some tools that can assist you in helping your teens gain better emotional reading skills.

The Facial Expressions Game

This interactive tool allows a player to experiment with the different effects of moving separate facial parts and to learn how a face conveys emotion.

Emotions Short Film

This consists of six minutes worth of picture and video examples of the six key emotions: joy, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness and fear.

Facial Emotion Photocards

A lower-tech option than the above, but useful when you do not have access to the internet or a computer in your sessions.

Studying Emotional Cues in Teen Soaps

Watching teen soaps and critically looking at how emotion is conveyed through the face, posture and gestures of the characters is a simple and effective way of assessing how good a teen is at reading emotions, and also to help improve their skills in this area. While the storylines might often be preposterous, they do provide good facial and body language assessment and training material, and often your teens may not mind doing this so much as other activities. Record an episode of a teen’s favourite drama or soap and watch and discuss with them, or maybe use one of the following (to view click on the image):


Features two of the female characters in an altercation. Good for showing confused, defensive, uncomfortable body language of someone on the receiving end of an angry outburst.

For other full episodes and clips for general use visit YouTube and search for ‘90210’.


A typical emotion packed episode which provides great emotion visuals for fear, shock, confusion, boredom, worry, annoyance, deviousness, and that’s just in the first 5 minutes!

For further episodes visit YouTube and search for ‘Hollyoaks’.

Resistance Argument

Overcoming Resistance to Change:  The Strongest Argument You Can Make for Change is Not To


Stages of Change Diagram

Click on the diagram to view a larger version and to print or download.



The Motivational Interviewing Approach

The Motivational Interviewing Approach is an incredibly powerful way of communicating with young people who are resistant to the idea of changing their behaviour. Master the method and I guarantee you, you will start to see some amazing results in your work, even with the teens that everyone else has declared as a hopeless cause. If you have the right tools and the right methods, the potential for successfully reaching out to every teen exponentially increases. Below is some recommended further reading to get you started.


Motivational Interviewing with Adolescents and Young People

This is an extremely accessible and engaging book that is very practice-oriented and geared directly towards working with adolescents. It shows a wide range of applications for the method, with excellent strategies and phrases to employ. While I make many free recommendations below, if you really want to understand the Motivational Interviewing method and how to practically apply it in your work with teens, buying a copy of this book is highly recommended. Amazon has ‘Look Inside’ so you can take a look without purchase.


Motivating Offenders to Change: A Guide for Probation and Parole

Although written for the criminal justice setting, this free guide is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the Motivational Interviewing method. It provides clear explanations of all aspects of the Stages of Change model and has many useful strategies for overcoming resistance to change. With many realistically scripted scenarios, the method comes alive and you can easily see how the theory can become your practice.

This free guide in conjunction with the above book for adolescents, ‘Motivational Interviewing with Adolescents and Young People’ {link to above}, makes for an excellent combination that will if followed dramatically improve your ability to help teens enact change in their lives.


Motivational Interviewing website

This website has many valuable resources and also an 8 minute video on the background to Motivational Interviewing. Definitely worth a look.


‘Techniques for the different stages of change’ handout

This short handout offers valuable guidance on the strategies and techniques to use with clients in each of the stages of change.


‘Applying the Stages of Change’ Journal Article

A useful freely downloadable journal article from the ‘Psychotherapy in Australia’ journal. Explains the stages of change model before making eleven practice recommendations that are focused around the need to assess the stage of a client’s readiness for change and to tailor interventions accordingly. Guidance is given on how to avoid
mismatching stages and processes.



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