Jen feels the anger bubbling up inside her, yet again. This is the third time today that her brother Zeke has taken something of hers without asking. And she just can’t keep her cool any longer. Jen storms over to the couch where Zeke sits with her laptop and yanks it out of his hands. She then storms into his room and throws everything in sight onto the ground: his desk chair, his pillows, his books, and even his beloved concert posters. When she’s finished, his room is a scene of destruction. Zeke stands in the doorway, his jaw open and tears in his eyes. That same night, their mom schedules an appointment for Jen with an anger management therapist. For the last few years, she’s worried about Jen angry behavior, but hoped it would subside. This, however, was the last straw and a sure sign that Jen needs help managing her anger.
A few months later, Jen is a new and improved version of herself: she no longer reacts to anger with violence, but instead talks calmly about her feelings. Her therapist first helped her identify a few triggers of her angry outbursts which included her little brother and invasions of privacy. The two then discussed healthier ways for Jen to cope with and express her anger (none of which involved destroying her brother’s room). Jen, Zeke, and their mother are now much happier, less stressed, and overall healthier individuals—thanks to anger management.
What Is Anger Management?
Anger management is the process an individual goes through to identify stressors, learn coping mechanisms for their anger, and handle their negative emotions in a more positive, productive way. While it’s unrealistic to completely remove all anger-inducing things and people, anger management will help the individual control and reshape initial reactions to such situations. Ultimately, the end goal is a more relaxed, level-headed individual.
We all have our triggers—our pet peeves and our touchy subjects. But the roots of our anger can be categorized into two main categories: internal and external events. Internal events that might trigger an angry reaction include self-perceived failures and frustrations, while external events include public humiliation and loss. Both internal and external events, such as the aforementioned, can result in anger but anger doesn’t always take the same form. Sure, it can emerge as aggression and in tantrums—these are called external behaviors—but it can also build up internally and lead to sulking or even depressive symptoms.
Who Should Seek Anger Management?
Any and all individuals—including business professionals, students, court-referred and self-referred individuals—who hope to better manage their emotions and, in turn, improve their relationships with others can benefit from anger management. However, the following individuals may find anger management particularly beneficial:
- People who display violent behavior
- Individuals who display bullying behavior
- Those battling substance dependency
- People with mental illnesses (such as PTSD) that cause difficult behavioral changes
- Individuals who sustain injuries that cause difficult behavioral changes
- People with mental illnesses (such as bipolar disorder) that make it especially difficult to control emotions
An essential step to better managing one’s anger is recognizing that they have a problem and that there is a need for improvement. If an individual fails to do so, anger management will likely be ineffective. Furthermore, individuals with significant underlying issues such as a mental illness may first need to confront those problems for anger management to prove successful.
How Does It Work?
Anger management takes individuals down a clear road to recovery: they’re given specific instructions to improving their angry behavior, as well as a stagnant, safe outlet for relieving their emotions. Therapists encourage their clients to examine the root of their anger and to explore their emotions. They then teach these patients how to use their newfound awareness to better understand the way their body reacts to specific triggers and circumstances and, in turn, correct their inappropriate or harmful behavior. Furthermore, anger management therapists help their clients discover and address more severe origins of anger. These include: grief, depression, trauma, addiction, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Whatever the underlying cause, anger management can assist the individual in effectively controlling and managing their emotions.
As previously mentioned, the goal of anger management therapy is to help people identify the sources of their anger, analyze their reactions, and adopt healthier ways of expressing their anger. To do so, therapists utilize a variety of techniques, such as:
- Impulse control
- Breathing strategies
- Relaxation tactics
- Identify negative thinking
- Practice positive thinking
Anger management may be administered in an individual or a group setting. Therapy groups or classes typically address anger issues rooted in or focused on other people: significant others, parents, siblings, or even coworkers. Additionally, an individual may be court-ordered to attend anger management due to legal issues. Anger management patients may attend as little as one to two classes or attend anger management on a regular basis.
Benefits of Anger Management
The benefits of anger management are ongoing—however, they can vary from person-to-person, depending on the severity of one’s anger and the underlying roots of their anger. Some potential benefits include:
- Healthier relationships: Often, people with anger management issues have strained relationships as a result of their off-the-handle behavior; their loved ones are typically the victims of their anger. Therefore, learning to better manage one’s anger will make for stronger, healthier relationships.
- Better judgment: Heightened emotions can make for cloudy judgment and poor decision-making. Anger management therapy teaches individuals skills for better managing anger, which will allow them to better judge a given situation and react more appropriately.
- Less stress: Negative emotions such as anger lead to an unequivocally high levels of stress. Once an individual learns to reduce and better control their anger, they will subsequently experience less stress, which also lowers their risk for serious health problems like heart disease.
- Effective communication: Emotions are intensified by ineffective communication. A priority of anger management is teaching clients healthy communication strategies, which will help them to forego those angry outbursts and relieve negative feelings.
Quick Facts About Anger Management
- Anger management can benefit any given individual, as long as they acknowledge and understand that they have a problem with expressing their anger.
- Learning to better manage anger can improve one’s psychological and physical health.
- The origins of anger management date back thousands of years: Greek and Roman philosophers emphasized the importance of controlling anger.
- The source of an individual’s anger may lie beneath the surface—examples include emotional trauma, grief, and addiction.
- Anger management therapy can also benefit a client’s loved ones, who often get the brunt of the anger.
- Individuals may be court-ordered to attend anger management, as a result of legal offenses such as domestic abuse.
- Anger management therapists often borrow principles and techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy.
- A majority of people react to anger with aggression, an evolutionary response which prepares one for battle.
Seek Anger Management at Thriveworks Today
It can be difficult to admit you have a problem, whether it’s with anger management, substance abuse, self-esteem, relationship maintenance, or anything else. It can be more difficult, however, to continue living with this problem that’s wreaking havoc on your life. If you think you could benefit from anger management counseling, make an appointment with a counselor at Thriveworks today. Click here to see a counselor near you, or check out our online counseling opportunities.