Anger management program aims to reduce violence

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JOPLIN, Mo. — If you don’t know a type of behavior is wrong, you’re likely to continue doing it.

But a program in place in Southwest Missouri is designed to change that.

It’s called Alternatives to Violence and it’s an intensive anger management program.

Louise Secker, Lafayette House, Director of Development, said, “So participants have committed some sort of violent offense against another program and the judge allows them to divert into this class and complete it for 24 weeks.”

Depending upon how they were raised, Gilstrap says that some program participants don’t even realize they’re doing something wrong.

Carla Gilstrap, Licensed Counselor, Ozark Center, said, “The participants in this program can benefit from getting addressing some that they’ve had in their lives, it could be from past trauma, it could be from just growing up in a household where abuse is happening.”

The program has been in place since the 1990’s

“Identify the issues, process how it has affected them, and how it has contributed to their violent behavior and they’re able to learn coping skills to help them get through that and cope with those emotions.”

The vast majority of participants are men, but not always.

“I think that people might be surprised that sometimes a woman is designated as the offender uh by law enforcement, um it’s unusual but it does happens, uh on a much smaller scale but that’s why Lafayette House does the program for the women and Ozark Center does it for the men,” said Secker.

Participants must pay for their group counseling sessions but when finished, charges against them can be dropped if the violence never happens again.

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