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Anger Management

Anger is a feeling or emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Many people often confuse anger with aggression. Aggression is behavior that is intended to cause harm or injury to another person or damage to property. Hostility, on the other hand, refers to a set of attitudes and judgments that motivate aggressive behaviors. Anger becomes a problem when it is felt too intensely, is fely too frequently, or is expressed inappropriately.

Man showing anger

Feeling anger too intensely or frequently places extreme strain on the body. The inappropriate expression of anger may initially have payoffs (e.g. releasing tension, controlling people). Over time these payoffs lead to negative consequences; which far outweigh the short-term payoffs.

Myths About Anger

  1. Anger is inherited. One misconception about anger, is that the way they express anger is inherited and cannot be changed. Research has indicated that people are not born with set and specific ways of expressing anger. Rather these studies showed the expression of anger is learned behavior.
  2. Anger Automatically Leads to Aggression.  This misconception basically is saying that the only effective way to express anger is through aggression. Effective anger management involves controlling the escalating anger by learning assertiveness skills, changing negative and hostile “self talk”, challenging irrational beliefs, and using a variety of behavioral strategies.
  3. You Must Be Aggressive To Get What You Want. Many people confuse assertiveness with aggression. The goal of aggression is to control, dominate, intimidate, harm, or injure another person...at any cost. The goal of assertiveness is to express feelings of anger in a way that is respectful to other people. Expressing oneself assertively does not involve blaming and threatening other peoples, and minimizes the chance of emotional harm.
  4. Venting Anger is Always Desirable. For many years it was believed that the aggressive expression of anger, such as screaming or punching a pillow was therapeutic and healthy. Further research showed that doing that just made them get better at being angry. Venting in an aggressive manner reinforces aggressive behavior.

 

 

woman steaming with anger

My Approach

 

I provide anger management treatment one-on-one, not in a group setting. For mandated anger management services, I follow a program that discusses the following areas: Myths of Anger, Triggers of Anger, Anger Control Plans, The Aggression Cycle, Assertiveness Training and Conflict Resolution, and Anger and the Family. This program is an 8-week program, meeting 1x/week.

For general anger management treatment, I use CBT and solution-focused treatment to help the individual understand where the anger is coming from, and implement alternate, more appropriate methods for dealing with that anger. I often touch on the areas addressed in the anger management program as well, just not as formal. Often times I uncover underlying issues that may not have previously been addressed. These issues usually revolve around some extreme or prolonged exposure to a stressor, like financial difficulty, loss of a loved one, marital/relationship issues, work issues, and/or undiagnosed mental illness (depression, Bipolar, anxiety, etc). Once these issues are addressed, often times the anger problem becomes less of an issue.

If you or someone you know has an anger management problem, seeking assistance from a counselor may help.

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