10 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Anger is a natural response that many people experience from time to time. As a primary emotion, anger may occur when someone comes under attack or feel frustrated, insulted or received. As long as it is within control, occasionally expressing anger is not harmed. However, for some people, this emotion can quickly get out of control, potentially becoming destructive and impacting the quality of life. Too much anger can affect careers, destroy relationships, and threaten overall well-being.

Fortunately, there are different ways to control anger, the best one being anger management therapy. This therapy utilizes different evidence-based therapies and strategies to effectively control anger outbursts while lessening their impact on daily life.

The definition of uncontrolled anger may vary from one person to another. While some people quietly seethe at the world when angry, others seem to constantly dwell on the events that made them angry in the first place. Some may even develop quick tempers and potentially exhibit violent or aggressive behaviors.

Considering its highly varying manifestations, uncontrolled anger is hard to define. Unlike depression or anxiety, this form of emotion does not have an official diagnosis. Nevertheless, anger can become dysfunctional, yet most people who experience it fail to realize the gravity of their problem. This is because, for most people, anger seems like an effective therapy to get things done. For example, blowing up at your child may seem like a good technique if it gets them to do their chores. Similarly, losing your temper at work may feel beneficial if it gets your coworkers to be more productive. Under this false pretense, many people fail to look at the long-term consequences of uncontrolled anger, such as an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and social disharmony among different people.

At the moment, experts have no clinical criteria for diagnosing problematic anger. However, certain behavior patterns suggest the need for anger issues counseling in most people. These patterns include:

  • Difficulty in management and expression of emotions in a healthy way
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Facing problems in romantic, social, or work relationships due to anger issues
  • Getting violent or extremely angry when drinking alcohol
  • Turning anger toward the self through social withdrawal or self-harm
  • Finding it difficult to negotiate or come to an agreement with others without losing my temper
  • Experiencing intense bouts of anger very frequently
  • Impaired ability to work or study due to uncontrolled anger issues
  • Experiencing feelings of anger for a long time
  • Frequently encountering issues with law enforcement agencies due to poor anger management.
  • Being short-tempered or easy-provokable towards anger

Anger management therapy aims to help individuals manage their anger and associated emotions. While anger does not have the status of a diagnosable medical illness, such as anxiety and depression, its intense, uncontrollable, and potentially destructive forms can exert significant impairment and distress on an individual’s life.

For all such people, seeking anger management therapy can be highly beneficial, particularly with the following aspects:

Mental Health

Anger can affect an individual in different ways. It can cloud their judgment, consume their focus, and deplete their energy. Persistent anger may also lead to other mental health issues, such as substance abuse and depression which further deteriorate the quality of life and make it miserable if left untreated.

Physical Health

Anger can easily impact physical health by increasing adrenaline levels, enhancing the heartbeat, and shooting blood pressure. In some people, it also increases muscle tension which manifests in fisted hands or clenched jaws. Over time, these tiny changes can take a toll on overall health and increase the risk of several medical issues.

Career

Most people may not realize it, but anger can make it difficult for them to focus on work or school by affecting their performance. It may also harm their relationships with their peers. Having healthy debates, creative differences, and constructive criticism can certainly bring about productive outcomes. However, having angry outbursts or lashing out too frequently can also alienate peers, leading to negative consequences.

Relationships

Anger can easily harm people around you while taking a toll on the relationships you share with them. It can also make it difficult for other people to feel comfortable around you and destroy their respect and trust. Frequent anger outbursts can also be particularly damaging to children.

Anger management therapy may widely differ from one person to another based on different factors, such as the extent of their issue, its severity, frequency, and how much it is affecting their life. Some common examples of the approaches commonly used as a part of anger management therapy include the following:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is often the treatment of choice for anger management. This therapy can help people understand their triggers for anger while developing coping skills to manage it healthily. CBT also teaches people how to think, behave, and feel differently towards a situation that provokes anger in them so that they can feel more in control and tackle it more calmly.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a type of CBT that supports people with frequent or intense anger issues to regain control of their emotions through developing distress tolerance skills and effective emotional regulation. Moreover, it also focuses on mindfulness techniques and effective communication to resolve anger-related issues.

Family Therapy

This type of therapy is necessary when dealing with clients who commonly direct their anger toward their family members. Family therapy takes place under a licensed therapist’s supervision in a session involving the client and their close family members. This therapy allows them to work together to improve communication and resolve issues.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy helps individuals identify the psychological roots of their anger and monitor their responses to it. This technique allows them to identify their unhealthy patterns and subsequently correct them.

A mental healthcare provider will evaluate each individual’s circumstances and specific behaviors to decide the overall approach to treatment. This evaluation also helps them decide whether there is a need to commence medication therapy alongside the provision of anger management therapy techniques described above.

Counseling is one of the most important anger management treatments suggested to many people suffering from this issue. This counseling involves helping people understand their triggers and responses to anger outbursts and supporting them in learning new strategies for managing them. Some standard techniques used in anger management counseling sessions include:

Identification of Triggers and Responses

Counseling helps people understand the factors potentially contributing to their expression of anger. Moreover, it also helps them uncover all current and past triggers for anger and their responses to it. A therapist also works alongside each client to help them see the consequences of their excessive anger and how it is affecting their relationships. For example, an individual seeking counseling may realize that the reason why they yell at their spouse is a consequence of observing their parents yell or their belief that yelling can get them whatever they want.

Anger-Diffusing Strategies

Anger management counseling also equips clients with strategies that disrupt their anger or help them manage their responses healthily through distraction or avoidance. A therapist can help such people learn how to respond appropriately, even in the middle of an angry outburst. They often offer role plays where clients get a chance to practice their skills, like assertiveness, that help them gain more control over their mood. 

Lastly, anger management counseling also teaches clients about different coping strategies and relaxation techniques to cool down instantly. These include practices like deep breathing, guided imagery, etc.

Changing Attitude and Thought Patterns

One of the essential aims of anger management counseling is to restructure people’s changing attitudes and thinking patterns related to anger. This is particularly true if the leading therapist uses a CBT-based approach in their counseling sessions. Through this approach, the therapist helps people examine their attitudes and reconsider their ways of thinking by helping them identify specific patterns, like judging, catastrophizing, ruminating, and fortune-telling. These professionals also work alongside each client to help them practice the changes in their response patterns. They also offer clients different ways to let go of disappointment and hurt, encourage compassion and forgiveness, and help them accept and repair their ruptured relationships.

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