We’ve all experienced anger. But if your temper is hijacking your life, making you feel like you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable, overbearing, powerful emotion, it may be appropriate to use professional counseling or psychotherapy solutions — anger therapy — to help with your anger issues.
Maybe you’ve felt the full spectrum — from fleeting annoyance to uncontrollable rage — maybe multiple times a week. And for the most part, some anger is to be expected in life. Anger is a necessary human emotion, one that’s usually healthy and normal. But there are times it can get out of control and be destructive, hurting personal and professional relationships and one’s overall quality of life.
Anger therapy can help your relationships and career, but more importantly it can help your health — those who are angry often experience frequent head and stomach pains, and uncontrolled anger can eventually lead to heart disease, elevated blood pressure and cancer.
The Ws of Anger Therapy
While you may learn anger management skills on your own through the many books and online resources available, seeking professional anger therapy is often the most effective approach for those in need of anger management. Therapeutic strategies taught by professional therapists can help patients become less reactive and learn to develop more patience in the face of people and situations they cannot control.
If you’re curious if anger therapy is right for you, consider the following information.
What is anger therapy?
Anger therapy is a psycho-therapeutic program for anger control and prevention. Many therapeutic strategies are available to help you deal with anger issues, but the most popular is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a brief treatment that has proven to be the most highly effective anger management therapy. Through CBT sessions with a licensed therapist, patients will often undergo:
- Mindfulness training
- Restructuring of dysfunctional thoughts
- Healthy distress tolerance training
- Emotion regulation and empathy training
- Skill building to translate anger to assertiveness
Why is it helpful?
Anger therapy can help you manage angry outbursts; understand your anger’s roots including underlying, painful emotions; identify healthy coping strategies; channel your anger into healthier endeavors; and enhance your communication and relationships with those around you.
What skills will I gain?
By going through the exercises listed above, patients will learn to better communicate their needs, maintain better health, prevent psychology and social problems linked to anger, learn empathy skills and to avoid addictive behaviors. (People who feel angry may turn to alcohol, drugs or food to decrease feelings of anger.)
What are the benefits of anger therapy?
Through anger therapy, patients learn to help themselves stay calm and handle tense situations in a constructive, positive way. These skills can help them avoid anger suppression, which can lead to hypertension, depression, and anxiety. Other benefits include better:
- Judgment: Anger makes us incapable of grasping the situation in an unbiased way and makes us prone to making mistakes in sound reasoning. Anger management helps an individual channel anger better so his or her control and temper are not lost, allowing the individual to analyze situations more objectively.
- Communication: Often anger is caused by miscommunications that result in misunderstandings. Learning how to open up communication makes dialogue easier and more controlled.
- Understanding of empathy: A big part of therapy is learning empathy for others, which helps one party understand the other better, decreasing chances of further conflict or disputes.
- Relationships: Many people who have anger related issues stay away from their loved ones or are asked to stay away because they can hurt people with their strong emotions — the ones we love are our nearest, easiest victims. Learning to control your anger will help put others at ease about outbursts and better able to focus on your relationship.
Anger Therapy at Home
While working with a therapist has long-term benefits — you’re learning specific behavioral skills and ways of thinking so you can cope with anger more easily — if you find yourself in need of being calmed down when not in the presence of a professional, there are things you can do. Follow these three easy steps for a quick cool down.
- Relax: Practice taking controlled, slow breaths that you picture coming up from your belly rather than your chest.
- Stop: Listen before reacting. Take time to think carefully about how you want to reply. It’s OK if you need to step away to cool down first.
- Use logic: While anger can quickly skew judgment and logic, do your best to stay focused. Remind yourself that the world is not out to get you – this is the irrational anger talking. Remember to do this each time you start feeling heated, and you’ll start realizing you’re getting a more balanced perspective.
Remember, anger is a healthy emotion. Whether or not it’s of concern depends on its severity. If you have difficulty controlling your temper or your anger comes out in unhealthy ways that could hurt others as well as hurt yourself, it’s time to take control of it. Left alone, it can negatively affect your relationships and professional career. If you think you will benefit from therapy, talk to a professional today and get started on a path to a calmer lifestyle today.