Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that virtually everyone feels from time to time. However, it becomes an issue when anger continually flares up or seems to spiral out of control. For many, the inability to manage anger can lead to relationship issues, affect your health, and negatively impact your state of mind.
It’s important to know that anger is neither good nor bad. It’s never good to suppress emotions, especially if it’s in response to a situation that is upsetting or threatening. However, anger becomes an issue when you use it in a way that causes harm to either yourself or others. This is where anger management can help.
Psychotherapy & Anger Management
When anger becomes an issue, counselling or psychotherapy can help you take control of your emotions and learn how to express them in healthy ways. Anger is often an automatic emotional response that can be reduced with practice and reinforcement. A psychotherapist will work with clients to identify angry behavior patterns and learn preventative techniques for management.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be extremely effective for anger reduction. This form of talk therapy attempts to alter negative thought patterns and behaviors and change the way that clients handle problematic events.
While the appropriate technique will vary from client to client, some effective cognitive behavioural approaches include:
• Enhancing Personal Awareness: Often, individuals struggling with anger issues don’t understand where these strong emotions are coming from or why they are angry. Discussions, role-playing, and self-monitoring (often in the form of journal keeping) can help clients become aware of the anger in their lives. This includes why it occurs, which memories or events trigger anger, and why they respond the way that they do.
• Relaxation and Coping: Learning relaxation coping skills helps clients calm themselves down when feeling increased emotional and physical excitement in response to anger. This includes mindful meditation, relaxing the muscles, slow deep breathing techniques, and other approaches.
• Avoidance and Removal: Some clients benefit from learning how to mentally or physically remove themselves from a tense situation before it escalates. This can include anything from leaving the area when a disagreement occurs, or performing a distracting activity instead.
Ultimately, the goal of anger management is often to alter how clients perceive and handle stressful situations. Using a collaborative approach, a psychotherapist will work with a client to adopt problem-solving skills that can be applied to any difficult situation. This can include changing negative thought patterns to see situations in the big picture, and replacing these with more reasonable ways of thinking and approaching an issue.
Top 10 Best Therapists
As one of Canada’s top 10 best psychotherapists, Melissa Cutler has spent the past 20 years gaining clinical and research experience across hospital, community, and public sector settings, including as a social worker. With advanced training in cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma counselling and chronic pain management, she helps clients manage anger issues and alter negative thought patterns and behaviors. Book online for a psychotherapy appointment at her office on Yonge and Lawrence near the subway.