Counselling and Psychotherapy for Anger Management
What is Anger?
When we receive criticism or insult, it is normal that we experience negative emotions, such as anger.
Anger is an intense emotional response to a perceived threat, provocation, or hurt. The experience of anger is usually accompanied by strong physiological reactions, such as an increase in heart rate, sweating, and tenseness in the body.
When experienced and expressed appropriately, anger can be a good thing. Anger has always been a powerful tool for human survival, as it allows us to react instinctively when we are in danger. The appropriate expression of anger is a healthy form of coping, and motivates us to act on things or situations that we are unhappy with.
However, because anger is such a powerful emotion, it becomes a problem when we experience it too frequently, or find it difficult to control.
Types of Anger Management Problems
Individuals who experience anger easily have a problem with chronic anger.
They get angry easily, overreact frequently to situations, and find it hard to control getting angry. For example, an individual with chronic anger could be one who takes offence easily at the things that others say or do. This leads to the other people around him or her having to be very careful with their words, and always needing to ‘watch their step’.
Passive anger is unexpressed anger that is misdirected as other feelings or behaviors. An individual may not even be aware that he or she is feeling angry. Instead, the anger gets misdirected as sarcasm, spite, or apathy towards the person or situation that they are angry about.
For example, a wife may be feeling angry that her husband gets to maintain his social life after the birth of their child. She may become increasingly spiteful towards her husband, or act in ways that sabotages the relationship.
Individuals who experience aggressive anger express anger in unhealthy or destructive ways. Some unhealthy or destructive ways of expressing anger include using aggression, abusive language, passive-aggressive behavior, and retaliatory actions. Sometimes, individuals who exhibit aggressive anger may also experience ‘rage’, which is a full-on, uncontrollable expression of anger.
Individuals with aggressive anger may not experience anger easily, but when they do, it is usually an unpleasant experience for the people around them.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is the most severe type of the anger management problem among all.
An individual is diagnosed with IED when he or she experiences discrete episodes of aggressive behavior that are grossly out of proportion to any threat, provocation, or hurt. These are similar to the rage episodes that occur in aggressive anger. For an individual with IED, these episodes occur frequently, with at least two episodes a week for a period of a minimum of three months.
IED is a serious problem as it may result in harm to others or the destruction of property.
Impact And Consequences of Anger Management Problems
Anger management problems can have negative consequences on both the individual and the others around.
Chronic anger may lead to health problems such as frequent headaches, fatigue, or heart disease. It can also lead to other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
When unaddressed, anger management problems can also have a devastating impact on relationships at home and at work. Thus, it is important for us to learn how to control our anger effectively.
Anger Management Treatment and Therapy
When you seek professional help for anger management, your treatment is likely to consist of the following techniques and strategies. These strategies are likely to work hand in hand in forming a comprehensive treatment plan to help you experience and express your anger in healthier ways.
01 | Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a structured therapy approach based on the idea that how we think, how we feel, and how we act all interact together. The process of cognitive-behavioral therapy helps individuals identify their ‘anger triggers’, which are specific situations in which they frequently experience anger.
The therapist and client will then work together to explore and change the thoughts and emotions that are associated with these situations. Through the process, cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the client to identify inaccurate, negative thought patterns that drive their feelings of anger.
02 | Relaxation Techniques
Simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visual imagery can help individuals to calm themselves down when they are feeling angry. The practice and implementation of relaxation techniques complement cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of anger management issues.
03 | Stress Inoculation Training
Stress Inoculation Training is a form of psychotherapy method that helps individuals prepare themselves in advance to handle stressful events successfully. This structured form of therapy helps individuals cope better with the challenging events that they may face in their everyday lives.
04 | Increasing Communication Skills
Having better communication skills allows individuals to express themselves better, which minimizes the potential for conflicts. When conflicts arise, individuals learn how to respond assertively instead of aggressively, which is a more effective approach of getting things across.
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