Dealing with Anger - How a Therapist Can Help
Getting moderately angry a few times a week is normal.
But if your anger occurs with frequency or if you get seriously angry on a regular basis then you might have a problem that warrants some professional help.
Do You Have Trait Anger?
People with a personality characteristic called 'trait anger' move easily into the 'red zone' and once angry are more likely to react with aggression and violence.
If you have trait anger, you:
- You get angry easily
- You get angry often
- You stay angry for longer periods of time
- Your behaviors once angry are more extreme (compared to people without trait anger)
- You are more likely to become violent or resort to yelling and screaming once angry
- You are more likely to use drugs or alcohol as a way to manage your anger and you are more likely to have personal or professional problems stemming from your anger issues
If you have trait anger, then you might benefit from working with a therapist or psychologist to learn better ways to manage your emotions and outbursts.
How to Know If You Need Professional Help for Your Anger Issues
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), you should consider seeking professional help if your anger interferes with your normal routines or your sense of self, or if you experience significant personal or professional problems stemming from your anger issues.1
Or to put it more simply - if your anger causes you or those close to you problems - then you have an anger management problem and would benefit from some assistance.
Dealing with Anger - What a Therapist Can Teach You
If you are considering anger management therapy you're probably wondering how a therapist can help you and what you can expect to learn in exchange for your time and money.
Anger management therapists generally use 1 or more of 3 basic strategies and all of the strategies can be learned in a few weeks or months so you won't have to go to therapy forever before you'll start seeing significant improvements.
1. Progressive Relaxation Techniques
Once you learn progressive relaxation you can calm yourself from anger in seconds by thinking of a soothing word or image.
To get to this stage, you'll need to practice relaxation techniques with a therapist. Typically you'll be asked to visualize an anger provoking scenario and then guided through a relaxation process.
For most people, about 8 practice sessions gets you to a point where you can use of this technique to soothe real world anger.
2. Cognitive Therapy
Through cognitive therapy you can learn to change the way you think to change the way you feel and react to anger provoking situations.
- If you are easily angered at the office by subordinates who do poor work, instead of obsessing about their laziness and incompetence you can retrain yourself to be more sympathetic and to remember how tedious their work can be and to be thankful that at least you don't have to do it anymore!
3. Skills Training
Sometimes a lack of skill creates anger provoking situations, and in such cases, one of the easiest ways to better things is simply to improve your skills..(you don't need to manage anger that doesn't exist!)
- If communicating with your teenage daughter gets you steaming, then maybe learning teen parenting skills would diffuse the tension before it got to the spill-over point.2
Should You Take the Plunge and Get Anger Management Therapy?
Do you have an anger problem?
If so, it comes down to a rather simple choice - are you willing to let your anger define you as a person and taint your relationships or are you willing to take an active role in bettering yourself?
It's a really positive thing - invest in a few weeks or a couple of months of focused anger management therapy and learn how to mange your destructive emotions so that they no longer steal from your potential happiness in life.
It takes a little money and a little time and a bit of effort and a fair amount of courage and determination, but change is possible, you can improve yourself, and if a few weeks of effort pay off with a lifetime of reward, then its hard to imagine how that could be time poorly spent.
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