Aggression replacement training: what it is and phases of this technique

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 understand where its effectiveness comes from. We will also see in what context it was developed and how to apply it correctly to be successful.

  • Related article: “The 10 Most Used Cognitive Behavioral Techniques”

What is aggression replacement training?

Aggression Replacement Training or ART, for its name in English (Aggression Replacement Training) is a psychological technique geared towards intervention in cases of generally violent behavior by adolescents (mainly, but also adults or children). The creators of this program were American psychologists Barry Glick and Arnold P. Goldstein.

To do this, they relied on parts of other existing models, with the aim of achieving a technique that brings together the strengths of all. For example, one of the characteristics he uses comes neither more nor less than Jean Piaget, and works in pairs, so that the adolescent can learn on an equal footing, because studies show that he is more attentive when it’s like that. .

It is a cognitive-behavioral cutting technique, as it seeks to generate changes in the subject’s thinking and behavior, in order to replace aggressive behaviors with others adapted to social interactions and thus cease the conflicts in which he was constantly involved.

Aggression Replacement Training is a particularly popular program in countries in North America, South America and also in several European states in addition to Australia. In some juvenile centers and even in prisons, it is common to use this model try to bring prisoners to experience an improvement, to reduce their violent behavior and thus achieve the reintegration sought by these institutions.

For example, in Washington, assault replacement training was one of the programs chosen, with three, for use in projects associated with the Community Justice Accountability Act which was enacted in 1997, thanks to evidence from improvement that the data showed.

Although it is not the most widely used technique in all of these centers, it is one of the main ones and is gradually gaining in popularity, so professionals believe that it is a promising step forward in order to bring the people who suffer from aggressive behaviors find the tools they need to be successful in replacing those behaviors with others.

Parts of this psychological technique

Aggression Replacement training is implemented in three very differentiated phases. The goal is to learn a series of skills so that they can be used in place of the aggressive reactions that the person usually shows. The program is designed to run over ten weeks, teaching a total of three one-hour sessions in each.

Now let’s look at each of the three phases in detail.

1. Social skills training

The first phase of aggression replacement training involves teaching social skills. In that case, authors Glick and Goldstein participated in Albert Bandura’s theory for his model. The point is, when working on social skills, it is meant to change the most behavioral part of aggressive people, especially teenagers.

Many of these people lack these social skills and therefore tend to resort to violence naturally. Therefore, it seems logical to think that if we provide them with these tools, their tendency for violent behavior should be reduced.

The Aggression Replacement Training Social Skills Program contains many points that the subject must learn to develop in a variety of situations. For example, when making a complaint or criticism, to put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand your neighbor’s emotions and even understand the other’s anger without losing your temper.

too much it will serve you to anticipate a dialogue that should be tense for whatever reason, No need to lose your stirrups and of course without ever getting into the aggression. You will learn not to get carried away by pressure from your peer group. He will also acquire the ability to assert his position of calm when he receives an unfair accusation. Of course, you will also understand the importance of helping other people.

It will be especially important to learn to express your own feelings towards others. Finally, work will also be done so that the person learns to accept negative or failure situations.

Each session focuses on one of these specific social skills and analyzes the thoughts and actions they include, teaching the adolescent who participates in aggression replacement training to act accordingly with these teachings. To make learning more fluid, they are asked to reflect on past situations.

    2. Anger control

    The second phase of aggression replacement training is learning how to properly manage anger. Therefore, these would be adolescents learning to controlling the emotional part of the aggression. In this case, the learning will consist first of eliminating the antisocial skills acquired by the subject and then replacing them with others of a prosocial nature.

    The aim is for young people to learn to deal with situations that previously made them angry, in a new way, in which they do not experience these sensations. To do this, the anger control chain is worked. The chain begins with the trigger stimuli, which can come from the subject himself or from outside. As a result, signs of coming anger can be observed, such as physiological activation.

    Once these signals are detected, the subject should be aware of them and try to reduce their anger through three different mechanisms.: First, a series of deep breaths, then a countdown and finally visualize scenarios that appeal to the person. It’s about taking attention away from the stressful stimulus and bringing it to a much quieter place.

    The adolescent will continue to remember that he is able to control himself and himself. He also has to think about what would happen if he lost control. Additionally, it will be about performing a prosocial skill instead of the anti-social one you would have practiced had you not mastered the anger chain through aggression replacement training. Once the situation is over, he will assess its evolution.

    3. Moral reasoning

    The last of the phases of aggression replacement training it is about moral reasoning, i.e. the cognitive part. Through this learning, young people are expected to gain a new moral perspective on their actions. To do this, we will work fundamentally on four thinking errors which are those that generally lead to the acquisition of a dimension of morality that does not square with reality.

    The first of these is egocentric thinking. It has to do with all the ruminations like “all bad happens to me”, “only good things happen to others”, “I am very miserable”, “I am very unlucky”, and so on.

    The second thought is one in which it goes without saying that the worst option is the one that will always happen, Denoting great pessimism.

    The third mistake of thought is what it does that the person blames the others and therefore assume an external locus of control. It will always be the fault of others, so on the other hand, he will always be a victim of the actions of others and of society, which push him to act. in this way because they do not give him any other alternative.

    Finally, we would find the mislabelling or minimization, which serves the individual to justify his actions. For example, stealing or engaging in violence against others, relying on this a lot of people do that too.

    This phase of training in the replacement of aggression is fundamentally formed by the knowledge that Lawrence Kohlberg embodied in his work on the stages of moral development, another example of the compilation work that the creators of this technique went to do, to unify different theories. that would allow them to compose an effective system of aggression control, especially in adolescence.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Glick, B., Goldstein, AP (1987). Aggression substitution training. Journal of Counseling & Development. Wiley Online Library.
    • Goldstein, AP (1994). The Prosocial Gang: Implementing Aggression Replacement Training. ERIC.
    • Goldstein, AP, Glick, B., Gibbs, JC (1998). Aggression Substitution Training: A Comprehensive Intervention for Aggressive Youth (Rev. ed.). Research press.
    • Goldstein, AP, 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 Substitution Training in Young Offender Facilities. International Journal of Criminal Therapy and Comparative Criminology.

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