Anger is a normal human emotion everyone feels throughout life. Unfair treatment, delays, frustration, and even physical illness can all be triggers for anger. Anger is a necessary survival response to threats, as it helps defend from danger.
However, the methods typically used to express anger may become a problem. Angry outbursts, physical violence, and aggressive behavior can be detrimental to mental health, interpersonal relationships, and can seriously effect quality of life.
Living with extreme anger that seems out of control can be frustrating, and frightening. That is why mental health experts have created an inclusive community to help individuals understand anger and learn the right tools to work through it.
How can you tell if you need help with your anger issues and what are the best anger management therapies out there?
Signs of Anger Management Issues
Everyone gets angry from time to time. You may have noticed that sometimes, people are highly irritable or quickly lose their temper. These reactions don’t necessarily mean that the person has a problem with anger, as we discussed earlier, everyone gets angry from time to time, sometimes anger can be aroused by simple things, like having a bad day.
But what differentiates irritability from problematic anger that necessitates seeing a therapist for anger management?
There are three ways that an angry person may express themselves:
- Inwardly – This is a situation where a person directs the anger at themselves.
- Outwardly – This happens when the people around the angry person bear the brunt of this powerful emotion.
- Passive-aggressive – When feelings of anger are left unresolved this indirect anger shows up as sarcasm, covert hostility, and cynicism.
Here are some ways to evaluate whether you may need to seek help in managing your anger:
Most people go about their lives without getting into major physical altercations or social problems due to anger. How a person physically responds to anger can mean the difference between burning bridges or de-escalating a tense situation.
With intense anger, it is common to experience physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, headaches, and a rapid heart rate. These symptoms usually precede angry outbursts.
Such outbursts are an outward sign of an anger issue. They may include breaking things, slamming tables or doors, or even threatening physical harm to others or their property.
It is not uncommon to feel deep regret after acting this way and to further feel like the the reaction could not be controlled, as if the anger took on a life of its own once triggered.
When you have anger management problems, it can become hard to interact in a healthy manner. You may get easily irritated or agitated by uncomfortable situations or conversations with coworkers or family members.
With uncontrollable anger, feelings of irritation can quickly escalate to verbal or physical outbursts. That is why people describe feeling angry as “seeing red” or “seething” because you may feel powerless over your emotions.
Sometimes, the cause of the intense emotional response is something petty that seems so important at the moment. Acting out on minor inconveniences can lead to feelings of shame or guilt and even social isolation.
Substance abuse is sometimes a response to an anger problem. Sometimes, people who can’t control themselves when they feel angry turn to substance abuse to soothe their agitated state.
Unfortunately, substance abuse interferes with rational thinking. Substance users experience greater risk of incidences resulting from extreme anger, including the threat of legal trouble because the use of the substance impairs their judgement, and may lead them to behave irrationally.
In fact, research shows that the risk for substance abuse is especially high for people who have to live with a family member struggling with aggression.
Fortunately, seeing the right anger management therapist can provide the tools to express anger in healthier ways.
Types of Anger Management Therapy
Therapists may use one or combined techniques to equip you with anger management skills. Some of the most frequently used therapies include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most widely used therapy in anger management. CBT is used to create self-awareness to enable identification of triggers and responses to anger.
The American Psychological Association recommends Stress Inoculation Training, or SIT, for treating anger. It is a type of CBT used that can equip you with coping mechanisms to control your anger.
SIT uses mechanisms such as relaxation techniques, self-reflection, role-playing, and guided self-dialogue to manage anger.
It is an effective way of working with what you can control – your reaction, and your response to your environment. A therapist for anger management can partner with you to work through specific triggers and consciously exercise self-control in your responses.
Group therapy is used in anger management classes to help people struggling with feelings of shame, low self-esteem, or guilt due to excessive anger.
In group therapy sessions, a therapist for anger management works with a small group of people at the same time. These sessions are usually complemented by individual therapy.
Group therapy sessions have a unique set of advantages in that they provide a support system for people with similar struggles.
This is extremely important in anger management counseling as it helps people to learn from others’ experiences and reduces the chance of regression.
Sometimes, intense anger may be triggered by other mental and physical health conditions. These include depression, anxiety, prolonged sadness, stress-related physical ailments, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Psychodynamic therapy aims to recognize these underlying unconscious feelings that may be causing your anger problems.
Families with a breakdown in communication due to unhealthy anger expression can benefit from anger management therapy.
Family therapy is especially important for the mental health of children who are exposed to unhealthy anger in a family setting. Negative consequences of such interactions include intermittent explosive disorder, a condition that causes sudden aggressive and violent episodes.
Getting The Right Therapist for Anger Management
Getting the right therapist for anger management is an important step in your anger management therapy. However, finding the right therapist can be intimidating.
Below is a quick description of what each kind of therapist for anger management might do to help those struggling with an anger issue:
A psychiatrist is an anger management specialist who is a mental health professional as well as a medical doctor. Psychiatrists help to treat anger issues that may be induced by other mental health conditions or physical conditions.
Psychiatrists can prescribe certain medications for the treatment of uncontrollable rage caused by underlying issues.
A psychotherapist uses regular personal talk therapy to offer professional advice and help you work on your impulse control and anger issues.
Additionally, other psychotherapy practices are created to cater to people with unique circumstances, such as selective mutism.
These licensed therapists use techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Psychodynamic Therapy in anger management.
A psychotherapist will offer their professional help either through one-on-one settings or in group or family sessions.
3. Therapists for Young People.
School counselors are licensed therapists who can assist teenagers in high school and college students with anger management.
Play therapists work with small children to help them work through major life changes or other conditions that may be causing unbridled aggression.
If you are a young adult struggling with anger that affects your own wellbeing, please reach out to the Youth Crisis Hotline to talk to a trained counselor.
There are countless positive instances of people successfully managing anger with the help of licensed therapists.
If you experience anger-related incidences that are negatively affecting your life, therapy can help.
We have numerous resources, including wellness exercises that you can use whenever you feel overwhelmed, or just need a breather.