Anger. We all experience it. Sometimes we are afraid of our own angry feelings and It can be scary to be on the receiving end of someone else's rage. When communicated in a healthy manner, anger can serve to enhance relationships as well as improve our ability to master difficult situations. Sometimes anger is not so well managed leading to acts of violence and nasty outbursts. Anger can also be expressed in passive ways. Simmering just beneath the surface, it manifests as passive aggressive, hostile behaviors or when it's out of one's awareness, it can lead to dangerous bouts of acting out.
Most therapists recognize anger as an emotion used to mask deeper feelings of hurt such as grief, shame or sadness. Anger management therapy can help people identify the deeper feelings behind anger. Often anger can be diffused when one recognizes other feelings driving it. However anger manifests, if not expressed in acceptable and effective ways, the potential for damage to important relationships is great. Poorly-managed anger can wreak your life. Anger management psychotherapy can help people identify triggers, unpack the source of the anger and also provide helpful strategies to avoid acting in destructive, harmful ways. Sometimes people have individual therapy sessions where insight-oriented therapy is combined with cognitive behavioral therapy to manage anger, while others may benefit from a group therapy approach. Anger management skill-building techniques can be very beneficial in relationships, the workplace and other stressful situations that have prompted hostile responses in the past.
The most popular anger management model at present is based on cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. In this technique, clients record moments when anger is at its greatest, they then identify feelings or “hot thoughts” that drive anger, list reasons why such thoughts may or may not hold true, and then re-analyze their level of anger. Emotions are generally rated on a percentage basis.
A person participating in CBT might start with a level 9-10 feeling of anger, and through this thoughtful process, bring the level down to a 4-5. One of the goals of CBT and anger management therapy is to help the participant learn to stop, think, and analyze their anger instead of the usual impulsive action responses that have led to destructive behaviors in the past. As people become more adept at CBT, they may be able to do this process on their own. Situations or “hot thoughts” that evoked anger before will be recognized and easier to dismiss in future triggering situations.
CBT also incorporates relaxation techniques, which can help those learning anger management techniques diffuse anger. These exercises might include deep breathing and relaxation responses.
As an option to clients willing to explore additional treatments, EMDR is very effective at helping people process and heal from the underlying sources of their anger such as those who had abusive, angry, frustrating or chaotic parents or caretakers. Diagnosis of underlying conditions causing excess anger like personality disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, or bipolar conditions must also be made to identify those people who might need medication to fully recover.