Anger Management Counselling: What Is Anger and How Can You Deal With It

Anger Management Counselling: What Is Anger and How Can You Deal With It

Anger is a natural sentiment that most people experience almost every day. Like all our emotions, anger also results from physiological and chemical changes within the body, such as an increased heart rate and adrenaline levels, respectively. However, there is a thin line between venting anger and allowing it to control your body and mind.

Some individuals become angry very often and undergo persistent or intense feelings of rage. Moreover, these fits of uncontrolled anger and angry outbursts can significantly damage the physical and psychological health of the individual and those around them. If this is the case, where anger has detrimental consequences on an individual’s quality of life and relationships, it’s time to consider anger management counselling.

Anger management counselling aims to reduce stressful or anger-provoking circumstances (both physical and emotional), enhance self-control, and help individuals express their emotions healthily and respond in a socially acceptable manner.

The Psychology of Anger: Why Do We Get Angry?

Anger is an emotion triggered when something unfair or unlikeable happens, and some action is needed to rectify the situation. The root cause of anger can be external or internal. 

Examples of some external factors that can trigger anger are:

  • Unfair Treatment at the Workplace
  • Being taken for granted
  • Being denied access to a resource based on gender, religion, race, or age

Internal factors that influence how one feels and expresses their anger include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Learned behaviour (e.g., watching how one’s parents react when they’re angry)
  • Working or living environment 
  • Life experiences 
  • Struggles with problem-solving

When Does Anger Become a Problem?

Expressing anger involves using various conscious and unconscious processes, and how we control these processes governs whether an individual’s anger is healthy or unhealthy. By expressing anger non-aggressively and constructively, one’s point of view is conveyed without hurting the people around them.

If anger becomes violent, abusive, or destructive, it can adversely affect various aspects of one’s life, such as:

Mental Health

Repeatedly experiencing negative emotions such as anger chronically activates the body’s stress response system. This makes one lose focus, clouds rational thinking and drains energy. It can also cause other mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Physical Health

Anger causes a rush of adrenaline within the body, leading to a rapid increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension (a clenched jaw, fisted hands, etc.). Repeated episodes like this ultimately take a toll on physical health. 

A study revealed that higher levels of destructive anger justification and lower levels of constructive anger could lead to an increased risk for coronary heart disease in both men and women. Moreover, anger can also lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes as a consequence of poor health behaviours.

Professional Life 

Lack of focus also affects school and office work. It reduces overall performance and also affects relationships with peers and colleagues. Lashing out and angry outbursts can cause alienation and lead to expulsion or termination. 

Personal Life

Constant fits of anger adversely affect personal relationships the most. Loved ones may begin to feel comfortable or safe and will eventually lose their trust and respect for you. This can be particularly damaging to young children.

Signs that someone might have an anger management problem include:

  • short temper resulting in volatile physical and verbal outbursts
  • breaking and throwing things
  • physical violence
  • constantly engaging in arguments

When one feels aggressive, the body experiences an adrenaline rush, making the individual react quickly and irritably. This is often coupled with heavy breathing, increased heartbeat, and the body becoming tense. Recognising these signs can help an individual stop and think before they react to a situation.

What is Anger Management Counselling?

Anger management counselling is a therapeutical approach aimed at helping individuals manage the physiological and emotional provocation that accompanies their anger. 

Since it is not always possible to modify or avoid situations and people that arouse anger, anger management therapies help individuals recognise their anger ‘triggers’ and teach them how to cope effectively. 

Eventually, anger management counselling helps individuals achieve their personal and professional goals, constructively resolve day-to-day problems, and rebuild the damage previously caused by their anger.

Benefits of Anger Management Counselling

The benefits of anger management counselling include:

  • Identifying Triggers

Knowing people and situations that trigger anger can help individuals avoid or change their reactions towards them.

  • Modifying thinking

Anger management counselling helps individuals identify and alter unhealthy thought patterns that increase anger.

  • Learning Coping Skills

Therapy teaches individuals how to regulate emotions, manage actions, and cope with triggering situations and people.

  • Learning Relaxation Methods

Relaxation techniques and exercises help individuals remain calm and relaxed instead of going into a fit of rage.

  • Effective Problem-Solving

If particular situations repeatedly trigger anger episodes, the therapist will encourage the individual to seek alternative, more constructive solutions.

  • Improving Communication

Anger management counselling helps individuals express their feelings more healthily and respectfully without using aggression.

Moreover, anger management counselling can be extremely valuable for certain social groups, such as:

  • Violent offenders (involved in an assault, battery, rape, domestic abuse, etc.)
  • Individuals with bullying tendencies
  • Individuals displaying behavioural changes due to medical reasons such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) or posttraumatic stress (PTSD)
  • Individuals with substance dependency or those in recovery
  • Individuals with cognitive health issues that make it tough to control anger

Anger Management Counselling Sessions

Anger management counselling is available as one-on-one sessions or group therapy.  Classes are designed to deal with specific anger issues such as adolescent anger, relationships, work problems, parenting, etc. These sessions generally last about four to six weeks and are also available online; however, the duration depends on the individual’s circumstances.

Most anger management sessions include journal writing, homework, daily assignments, and exercises. These aim to strengthen the concepts learned in therapy and allow the individual to safely and healthily practice newly learned real-life skills.

Types of Anger Management Counselling

There are various approaches to anger management counselling. Before beginning treatment, the therapist will carefully evaluate the individual’s circumstances and behaviours and determine the best approach for them. Moreover, the therapist will also decide whether medication is required along with counselling.

The different approaches to anger management therapy are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is solution-oriented psychotherapy. It teaches individuals to recognise their negative thoughts and feelings, challenge them, and eventually replace them with rational ideas and emotions.

CBT used for anger management counselling involves using a variety of questions and exercises to help individuals recognise their anger triggers. Once the triggers and their root causes are identified, the therapist will teach the individual techniques and strategies to manage their anger and responses effectively.

CBT for anger management also focuses on swapping aggressive and unhealthy communication with relaxed yet assertive communication.

CBT Techniques Used During Anger Management Counselling

These are the five commonly used CBT techniques for anger management:

  • Deep Breathing

This involves inhaling slowly through the nostrils and exhaling slowly through the mouth. Practising this for 10 to 15 minutes daily can help reduce anger triggers such as rapid heart rate and increased breathing.

  • Muscle Relaxation

Anger also causes muscle tension and stiffness, especially in the neck and shoulders. In coordination with slow breathing, gently rolling the head towards one shoulder and then the other can relax muscular tension.

  • Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring teaches individuals how to recognise unhealthy thought patterns that trigger anger and how to replace them with more rational thoughts.

The therapist will give the individual homework to record all their triggers and negative thoughts. This provides a better understanding of how these thoughts impact the individual’s responses to different situations. The challenge is to replace these thoughts with more positive feelings and reactions. 

  • Problem-solving

Instead of lashing out at others, CBT therapists help individuals use strategic tools for effective problem-solving to achieve their goals. This includes thinking flexibly and re-evaluating angry thoughts into useful ones.

Moreover, problem-solving helps individuals recognise the disadvantages of continuously seeing every situation from an angry perspective.

  • Behavioural Rehearsal

Behavioural rehearsal allows individuals to reframe triggers and communicate their anger in a behaviourally acceptable manner. The therapist describes a general anger-provoking situation and engages in role-play with the individual. After the exercise, the therapist provides honest and constructive feedback to help clients improve their behaviour during an anger-provoking situation.

  • Assertive Communication

Individuals with anger management issues often suppress their feelings and eventually react in a volatile and socially inappropriate manner. Assertive communication helps these individuals improve their behaviour, both verbal and non-verbal.

Verbal communication emphasises improving what is said using “I” statements, whereas non-verbal communication focuses on cues such as posture, eye contact, tone and volume of voice, and reflective listening.

Using CBT for Different Types of Anger

Some examples of how CBT can help in anger management include:

  • CBT for Pent-up Anger

Pent-up anger can result from difficulties in verbalising anger, avoiding confrontation, and suppressing feelings of frustration. When it is eventually expressed, the individual behaves passive-aggressively and lashes out.

Pent-up anger can result from difficulties in verbalising anger, avoiding confrontation, and suppressing feelings of frustration. When it is eventually expressed, the individual behaves passive-aggressively and lashes out.

Using CBT to manage pent-up anger involves the therapist asking the individual to write about their anger and reframe their thoughts and emotions. This is followed by confronting the person they are angry with and communicating their anger constructively through role rehearsal.

  • CBT for Self-Abusive Anger

Self-abusive anger involves self-shaming and negative talk and includes feeling helpless and unworthy. CBT targets these negative, self-defeating thoughts and behaviours using reframing techniques and helps convert them into self-compassionate feelings. 

  • CBT for Volatile Anger 

Volatile anger is a result of being easily triggered by trivial annoyances. These individuals spontaneously express their anger which is, unfortunately, very destructive. Volatile anger negatively impacts all aspects of personal and professional life and, if left unaddressed, eventually leads to frequent violent outbursts.

CBT for volatile anger helps identify the signs and physical indicators leading to an explosive outburst. It also teaches individuals relaxation and calming techniques such as deep breathing and journaling emotions.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that helps individuals control extreme emotional reactions. DBT teaches self-acceptance and specific coping techniques to regulate emotions better and effectively deal with stress. In addition, DBT is a support-oriented therapy that boosts people’s strengths, skills, and self-esteem.

There are four components of DBT:

  • Core Mindfulness

This teaches individuals to observe and describe their emotions and fully partake in recent experiences. Core mindfulness is the basis of the other modules and teaches individuals to ‘live in the moment’. 

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness

This component teaches individuals assertiveness skills, sets boundaries for when to say no appropriately, and helps them deal constructively with interpersonal conflict.

  • Distress Tolerance

This helps individuals struggling with negative emotions and teaches them to accept themselves and their current situation. Distress tolerance focuses on tolerating crises using strategies like self-relaxation and distraction to improve the situation.

  • Emotion Regulation

This module helps individuals understand their emotions, decrease emotional susceptibility, and reduce emotional misery. Some specific skills taught in this module include labelling emotions, identifying specific situations that provoke anger and how it is expressed behaviourally, and the consequences that follow.

Family Therapy

Family therapy for anger management can help individuals who tend to focus their outbursts on family members. In addition, it allows families to work together and improve communication.

Family therapy for anger management can help individuals who tend to focus their outbursts on family members. It involves recognising triggers, improving communication, and learning healthy coping skills for anger management within a family unit.

This form of therapy also involves uncovering the underlying relational and emotional triggers that lead to angry outbursts and helps promote effective conflict resolution. Moreover, it teaches emotional regulation skills to all family members to promote better family functioning.

The techniques used in anger management family therapy are:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

In anger management family therapy, CBT helps family members recognise and reform negative thoughts and irrational beliefs that promote anger. It also focuses on helping families identify and amend aggressive communication styles and swap them with healthier coping skills, including assertive communication and problem-solving.

  • Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)

EFT in anger management family therapy helps families recognise the underlying emotions that trigger anger, sorrow, fear, and frustration. Therapists teach family members healthy emotional expressions and regulation strategies to improve emotional communication and develop coping strategies to convey their anger constructively.

  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT helps family members recognise the strengths and skills to manage anger effectively. This therapy involves using solution-focused techniques to identify exceptions to problems and creating action plans to build positive anger management strategies.

SFBT can also help family members with problem-solving, stress management, and coping strategies for anger triggers.

  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness in anger management teaches families techniques such as deep breathing and relaxation to develop self-awareness. Mindfulness motivates family members to stay more involved in the present, become non-judgmental about their thoughts and feelings, and react to anger triggers more calmly.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy helps therapists examine the underlying psychological causes of an individual’s anger and their responses to it. The therapist can identify and modify unhealthy feelings and behaviours by using information about the individual’s emotions, thoughts, early-life experiences, and beliefs.

Anger Management Counselling: Book a Consultation with Our Experienced Therapists!

Anger is a natural emotion that everyone experiences almost every day. As discussed, anger is not always negative; however, it can have detrimental effects if expressed uncontrollably. Repeated outbursts of anger that involve throwing things, physically harassing others, being abusive, or acting passive-aggressively must be dealt with professionally. 

Consider anger management counselling before anger destroys your health and professional and personal life. Our experienced professionals will teach you how to regulate your emotions, establish self-control, utilise coping skills, and communicate your anger constructively. 

Don’t let your anger destroy you – consider counselling today!

Leave a comment

Go To Top