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Charlie Sheen will not play a social worker in Anger Management

Charlie Sheen

Troubled actor Charlie Sheen will portray an anger management therapist  — not a social worker — in his upcoming FX series Anger Management, Lionsgate Television spokesman Leah Krantzler said.

That decision especially pleases National Association of Social Workers (NASW) member George Anderson, MSW, who was a technical adviser to the 1993 film Anger Management on which the Sheen series is loosely based.

Anderson, who lives in Los Angeles, was the first global provider of anger management training, workbooks, videos, DVDs and interactive CDs. He also is a member of the NASW Communications Network Advisory Committee, which helps educate the public about social workers and increase awareness of the profession.

“It would have made us look bad,” Anderson said about casting Sheen as a social worker.

Sheen’s problems with drugs and alcohol have been widely publicized. Those issues prompted CBS and Warner Bros. last year to remove Sheen from the popular sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Sheen has also criticized organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and claimed he has cured himself, actions that may discourage others from seeking professional addiction counseling and treatment, said David Houke, LMSW, clinical director at Burning Tree Lodge in Elgin, TX.

Burning Tree Lodge provides services to people who have appeared on the A&E series Intervention, which follows people battling various addictions.

Anger Management will premiere June 28. Sheen will portray Charlie Goodson, a former basketball player who becomes an anger management therapist after dealing with his own anger issues.

According to news reports 10 episodes have been filmed and FX will decide whether to film 90 additional episodes based on ratings.

Last year news reports said Charlie Goodson would be a social worker who helps clients overcome anger issues. However Krantzler said in July 2011 that no decision had been made on whether Goodson would be a member of the helping profession.

George Anderson

Comments posted online and on Facebook last year indicated many social workers were upset Sheen could portray a social worker.

“Social workers deserve a respected person to tell their story,” Kevin A. Campbell posted on

However others were willing to give the series a chance. “Charlie Sheen is an actor. Get over it. I look forward to checking it out. Sounds funny,” Steve Carr said.

Making Sheen an anger management therapist gave the series a way to avoid opposition from social workers, Anderson said. In fact, Anderson said public outcry from social workers may have prompted Anger Management producers and writers to not make the role a social worker.

Some social workers do train to become anger management therapists but not all anger management therapists are social workers, Anderson said.

In fact, Anderson said no social work school offers anger management training although it is a fast growing field.

Social workers do help clients overcome anger issues. To learn more read an article on anger management at the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” consumer website by clicking here.

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