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Marine Corps Base Hawaii

"Supporting Readiness and Global Projection"

MCCS Hawaii offers anger management class

By Kristen Wong | Marine Corps Base Hawaii | October 25, 2013


Anger is unpleasant, and it’s an emotion all people may experience at one time or another. But when a person fails to control anger, a simple emotion can escalate into a variety of larger problems, from health issues to violence.

According to a 2010 study entitled “Anger and Health Risk Behaviors,” by M.L. Staicu and M. Cutov, health problems have been linked to anger. Staicu and Cutov cite a 2006 study that found a connection between anger and coronary heart disease.

At each Marine Corps installation, including Marine Corps Base Hawaii, there are classes to help combat negative emotions. Marine and Family Programs’ Counseling Center offers the Cage the Rage: Anger Management class, Tuesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. in a Marine and Family Programs classroom in building 216.

Active-duty Marines, active-duty sailors stationed with a Marine command, retired Marines and sailors and their spouses are eligible to take the class. Cage the Rage, which is free of charge and six sessions long, provides participants with information about managing their anger.

“We are all responsible for our own behavior,” said John McCarthy, counselor, Community Counseling Program, Marine and Family Programs. “We have the ability to manage our behavior and to change the way we respond to the situation.”

Cage the Rage is not a substitute for therapy or counseling, according to Lyn Lee, a licensed clinical social worker with the Family Advocacy Program and a Cage the Rage instructor. Rather, participants engage in discussion and group activities and receive tools for anger management in this class.

Through Cage the Rage, participants can learn to control their thoughts in some instances rather than trying to control the outside factor that prompted the anger.

“It’s your thoughts that keep you angry,” Lee said. “Learn to let go. Pick your battles.”

Sometimes outside factors can elicit anger but may be out of a person’s control, from personality clashes to malfunctioning equipment to the weather.

“Some (stressors) you can’t really do anything about,” McCarthy added. “(But) there are things you can do to make life more comfortable for yourself.”

McCarthy and Lee both teach Cage the Rage, but come from two separate departments within MCCS. Recently, Headquarters Marine Corps divided its counselors into the Community Counseling Program and the Family Advocacy Program.

“The FAP counselors manage cases referred due to domestic abuse,” McCarthy said. “Some clients have been mandated to take anger management classes.”

McCarthy said many of the students in Cage the Rage or Building Healthy Relationships believe they are not angry. He said students insist if “left alone they could work it out” themselves.

“But the problem is they didn’t,” McCarthy said. “It takes a lot of work on ourselves (to admit) when we’ve done something that we could have (handled) better.”

However, not everyone who attends Cage the Rage is there on command orders or due to a specific incident. McCarthy said some participants have voluntarily attended the class.

There are many aspects of anger to consider, including what can cause anger. For instance, Lee said if a person is not receiving an adequate amount of sleep each night, they could be prone to feeling irritable during the day, whether around co-workers or friends.

“Self-care is a really important part of anger management,” Lee said.

For people who become angry, there are ways to calm down, such as excusing oneself from a situation.

“If somebody asks you for a time out, please say ‘yes,’” McCarthy said. “The other person needs it. This is not the same as ‘ducking out’ on the subject. When in doubt, it is always better to take a time out.”

If a person becomes angry, and seems unable or unwilling to control their anger, co-workers, friends and family can help by excusing themselves instead. McCarthy advises not to tell the person that they’re “getting upset.” Instead, he advises the other person to walk away.

“(You can say) ‘I’m sorry, this is really getting intense for me,’” McCarthy said. “Let’s (cool down) for a little while and we’ll discuss this later.”

The Centers for Disease Control lists several coping strategies for anger on The CDC article suggests finding ways to prevent the various incidents, people or objects that elicit anger. One suggested strategies is taking a walk, to calm anger.

Before taking Cage the Rage, participants must first attend an orientation session held Tuesdays from 8 to 9 a.m. in building 216. During the orientation session, prospective participants can see if Cage the Rage is the appropriate class for their situation.

In recent years, Marine and Family Programs also created a separate class known as Building Healthy Relationships. This class is meant for couples struggling with anger management issues “primarily” with regard to their relationship. Building Healthy Relationships is an eight-session course offered twice on Thursdays, with a morning session at 9 a.m., and an afternoon session at 1 p.m. with short breaks. Couples individually attend the course in separate sessions.

Marine and Family Programs offers other classes that may be more pertinent to participants, like its Marriage Skills class, hosted every third Wednesday of the month from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with hourly breaks and a break for lunch.

For more information about anger management classes offered aboard MCB Hawaii, visit or call 257-7780, or 7781. Military OneSource offers additional tips for anger management at their website: For more information about Military OneSource, call 1-800-342-9647.

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