Anger management a key to treatment
EAGLE COUNTY – Regardless of the severity of a domestic violence case, chances are the court will order attendance at an anger management class in addition to any punishment. According to therapist Jim Easton, a one-day “diversion” class was created a few years ago at the request of the local judicial district. The reason: The only other option was the state-mandated 36-week program, and Easton said the one-day class was a better tool for those who didn’t need such a long bout of therapy.”What we did was spend a lot of the day talking about anger,” Easton said. “We’d tell people that, when you’re in a calm place, rational thinking takes place in the frontal lobes of the brain. When you get angry, thinking moves to the lower part of the brain and you lose the ability to be rational. There’s a tipping point.”In the one-day class as well as in the longer program, a lot of focus is placed on helping people manage that tipping point, he said. “There’s such a thing as healthy anger, but you can also reach a point where you do something stupid,” he said. “With a couple, when one or both reach a point where they lose rationality, nothing good comes out of it. It becomes a power struggle.”Easton said he thinks the 36-week class can be “a bit much” for some lesser cases, and said, when he did a “discharge summary” for those in the one-day class, he could make a recommendation for further treatment if he thought it warranted.State Rep. Gary Lindstrom – who represents Eagle County – also makes a distinction between different types of domestic violence, questioning the “one-size-fits-all” way current law addresses the problem.”The majority of times, domestic violence is circumstantial,” Lindstrom said. “It just occurred because someone got drunk or made a pass; people feel bad and life goes on. But some are chronic violators that anger management and diversion classes would have no effect on.”For now, though, the 36-week option is all that exists for anyone charged with domestic violence. Some, like Lindstrom and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, say they’d like to see more options to address the differing levels of severity in domestic violence cases. A meeting is slated for May 17 to discuss options with the state Domestic Violence Treatment Board.Vail, Colorado
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