Lynette Hoy has been a counselor for 16 years, but just recently added a new specialty: anger management.

“I would say this is definitely a growing field,” said Hoy, of CounselCare Connection in Oak Park.

Just last year, the American Association of Anger Management Providers was created and currently includes about 136 providers nationwide. Co-founder and anger management counselor George Anderson says the emotional aftermath of Sept. 11 catapulted anger management into the public arena.

“After 9-11, the entire world was destabilized,” he said. “Suddenly you have all of these referrals.” Anderson said the American Psychological Association is working on establishing anger management as a recognized mental illness.

Hoy says the service reaches a cross section of people, ranging from court-ordered individuals to couples having trouble in their relationships. Companies also send them employees who lose their tempers with customers or supervisors. Hoy says she generally works with adults rather than children and mostly conducts one-on-one counseling with her anger management patients.

Hoy also runs an on-line business for people ordered to take anger management classes. She has workbooks with as many as 32 lessons that can be purchased from her website.

Hoy encourages patients to take a time-out after their anger explodes. “Anger escalates within one to three seconds,” she said. “That hormonal surge does not dissipate.”

Taking a Christian approach in her work, Hoy also suggests patients seek “a little supernatural help” and offer forgiveness once things have settled down.

Hoy admits there is somewhat of a social stigma attached to the anger management phenomenon made famous in the 2003 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. But their experiences show their instruction is valuable.

“After [people] have taken it, they realize, ‘I did have an anger problem,'” Hoy said. “It kind of wakes them up.”

Medill News Service

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