Anger is an expected — often healthy — emotion everyone experiences, but if your temper is hijacking your life, something more might be happening. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) through either in-person or online therapy or counseling services can be a productive and practical approach to treating unhealthy anger issues.
Angry feelings that are out of control and destructive can damage more than just your relationships. Research shows uncontrolled rage can affect your health and well-being, too. For example, angry people often experience frequent head and stomach pains. Unchecked anger can even lead to coronary heart disease, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and other health issues.
There’s good news, though. You don’t have to live life feeling like your anger problem is more in control of you than you are of it. Anger management therapy is an effective way to unlearn unhealthy behaviors associated with being angry. Learn more about which types of individual therapy are most effective, how therapy for anger management works, the benefits of therapy, and if you should consider seeking help.
What is Anger Management Therapy?
Anger management therapy is a psycho-therapeutic program for control and prevention of many types of anger. Many therapeutic strategies are available to help people deal with anger management issues. Anger management therapy can help you identify the root causes of anger and stressors that might start the cycle of unhealthy anger response. Through therapy, it is possible to find coping tools that allow you to be positive and constructive in stressful situations that may cause you to erupt in uncontrolled anger. When you learn to manage, reduce, and release anger effectively, you’ll feel more in control of situations, emotions, and relationships with others.
How does anger management therapy work?
Anger management treatment works by exploring the roots of your anger. It can offer tools that allow you to replace destructive habits with more constructive responses.
Identifying your triggers is critical. Once you know what may affect you, you’re better able to anticipate and redirect your emotions before they control you.
Through anger therapy, you can:
- Focus on impulse control
- Develop a more positive sense of self
- Learn to manage frustrations before they turn to anger
- Use breathing techniques and other relaxation strategies to keep your anger and check
“Anger management therapy has been ordered by the courts after domestic violence or other behaviors that demonstrate anger control issues. As we all strive for self-improvement, people may voluntarily seek out ways to identify and control their anger impulses.”Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD
Types of Therapy for Anger Management
Several types of therapy for anger issues can help you develop healthy ways to manage your emotions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
One of the most popular forms of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The techniques used in the different types of CBT have been found to be highly effective for anger management therapy.
During CBT sessions with a licensed therapist, people often undergo the following:
- Mindfulness training
- Restructuring of dysfunctional thoughts
- Healthy distress tolerance training
- Emotion regulation and empathy training
- Skill building that transforms anger into assertiveness
Family therapy can be helpful in cases where anger outbursts are directed at family members. This form of therapy can be more collaborative, where parties work to understand one another.
Family therapy can:
- Help you learn to communicate
- Let you work towards resolving issues
- Help you let go of resentments
- Allow you to form stronger bonds and connections with family members
- Focus on reestablishing estranged relationships
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of CBT, and there are differences when comparing traditional DBT vs CBT. It can be constructive if you persistently lose control over your emotions. DBT is effective if your anger is extremely intense.
DBT can help:
- Establish emotional regulation
- Increase distress tolerance
- Learn to use mindfulness meditation to help control emotions
- Improve communication skills
Psychodynamic therapy is a technique that helps you explore the roots of your emotions. For anger management, the focus would be on why you’re so angry. Therapy can address how your responses are unhealthy and examine ways to change your reactions when you feel angry.
Psychodynamic therapy will:
- Focus on self-reflection
- Uncover unconscious reasons why you might react angrily
- Reduce or eliminate feelings of anger
- Home in on interpersonal relationships
“One of the key components to anger management is to identify your personal triggers. A trigger is any topic or condition that activates the fight or flight response. This trigger induces a physiological reaction which can be identified and worked through in therapy.”Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD
What is the best therapy for anger management?
No one form of therapy is the perfect solution for everyone. Therapy inherently can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Different factors will come into play, allowing some types of therapy to work exceptionally well for one person and not at all for another.
That said, most research on anger issues therapy looks at CBT. Because it focuses on how your thoughts can affect your actions, CBT can be an effective way to learn healthier behaviors in response to anger.
A meta-analysis of 50 studies on effective anger management therapy found that CBT as a treatment for anger is incredibly successful.
Benefits of Anger Management Therapy
You can learn to stay calm when faced with tense situations through anger management therapy. Reacting in a constructive, positive way can be a powerful skill. The skills you learn in therapy can also help you avoid anger suppression, which can lead to various health issues, including hypertension, depression, and anxiety.
“There are tremendous benefits to anger management therapy, including better job retention, less stressful relationships, healthier parenting, and more stability in decision-making. The tools and insights that can be gained in managing your anger are invaluable.” – Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD
Other benefits include better:
- Judgment: Anger makes it difficult to deal with situations in a healthy, balanced way. It can mean you’re prone to knee-jerk reactions instead of using sound reasoning. Anger management therapy can help you channel your anger so you remain in control instead of erupting. By the end of treatment, you can learn to analyze situations more objectively.
- Communication: Often, anger stems from miscommunications that result in misunderstandings. Learning tools to communicate better can make dialogue easier and more controlled.
- Understanding of empathy: A big part of therapy is learning to be empathetic. Empathy helps you understand other people better, decreasing the chances of further conflict.
- Relationships: Many people with anger-related issues find their relationships become strained. Whether you choose to stay away, or you’re asked to because of the hurt your anger management problem has caused, relationships can be severely damaged when anger is out of control. The ones we love are often the nearest, easiest ones we become angry at. Learning to control your anger can help put people and allow you to focus on repairing your relationships.
Can Therapy Solve Anger Issues?
Many people find great success when they seek therapy from a mental health professional to help resolve their anger issues. Some research has found that therapy can offer long-term benefits in managing anger. One study shows that participants could better manage their anger even one year after treatment.
Other studies have found that anger management therapy can be beneficial for those who are angry about health diagnoses, for example.
How to Know if You Need Anger Management Therapy
Most of us can benefit from therapy at one time or another. If your anger is interfering with your professional and personal relationships or your ability to live a happy, carefree life, it might be time to consider getting help.
Signs that you might need professional anger management therapy could include:
- You blame others for your situations, regardless of if they’re at fault or not
- You are passive-aggressive in situations
- You are more aggressive than what would seem appropriate for a reaction
- You’re angry often and find it hard to let go
- Your anger doesn’t fade in an appropriate amount of time
- You find difficulty expressing your emotions in a positive way
- You have a physical response to feeling angry, like raising your voice, pacing, or being snarky or sarcastic
- You isolate or have an urge to self-harm
- You use substances to cope with your anger
Resolve Anger Issues with Talkspace
Talkspace is an online therapy platform that can help you learn to manage your anger in healthier ways. Our experienced, skilled, and trained therapists can be key in learning to identify triggers so you can react in more effective and positive manners.
You don’t have to let anger rule your life. Help is available…all you need to do is reach out. Learn more about how Talkspace makes anger management therapy simple, accessible, and affordable.
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