Therapy for Anger Management
Dealing with Anger
Dealing with anger can be difficult and hurtful both for the person who has a problem with anger, and for those around them. Anger is an intense emotion that often leads the angry person feeling helpless, misunderstood, and alone. That may surprise you because most people perceive individuals who have an anger problem as strong and dominant, not helpless and vulnerable. In fact, they can be both. A part of their personality may be healthy and strong, yet in certain circumstances they are easily hurt emotionally, feel unimportant or inadequate, or are just generally impatient people. This can all lead to anger.
Anger in itself is a totally normal emotion! But expressed in unhealthy ways (whether explosive anger or passive aggressiveness), it leaves everyone feeling hurt and exhausted.
That’s where anger management therapy can help. Therapy for anger can help you learn how to control anger and channel it in appropriate, productive ways. And if you live with, parent, or work for someone who has difficulty with anger management, psychotherapy can help you too! It can help you learn effective ways to respond to anger without damaging relationships.
Psychotherapy for Anger vs Anger Management Classes
Two major differences between psychotherapy for anger and anger management classes are that 1) classes are of limited duration, usually a few weeks, and tend not to address the cause of your anger, and 2) anger management classes are not customized to your specific needs and situation. For example, it’s common for men who were physically, emotionally, or sexually abused as children to have anger problems. It’s also common for women with borderline personality disorder to express anger inappropriately in romantic relationships.
In both of these examples, individual psychotherapy will help heal the underlying wounds that are giving rise to the anger. That’s something you won’t get in anger management classes. You if you been asked to take anger management classes, absolutely go! You’ll learn lots of useful strategies for anger management. But it may not be enough on it’s own; individual psychotherapy for anger may be an important addition to your overall success and recovery.
Strategies for Anger Management – Learning How to Control Anger
Here are 3 quick steps for learning to control your anger:
1) Learn the physical signs of anger, and begin to recognize them in yourself. Once you notice that you are becoming angry, if possible, remove yourself from the situation: go for a drive, take an early lunch at work, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom if that’s the only option.
2) Whenever you are angry, it’s because either you feel hurt in some way or something you want or are trying to accomplish is being blocked in some way. So, while you are away from the situation on your “break”, try to figure out what that is. What is the need or hurt feeling that is underneath your anger?
3) Think of some healthy ways to meet that need or express your hurt feelings. Make a list! Think of as many different ways as you can. Then, look at each one and find the ones that will help you achieve your goal, without being mean to, or hurting others.
Remember, anger hurts you more than anyone else. It’s like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to get sick!
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Dr. Chantal Gagnon
Dr. Chantal Marie Gagnon, Ph.D., LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship counselor, and life coach in Plantation, Florida. Dr. Gagnon provides individual therapy, family counseling services, and couples therapy in her Plantation, FL office. Coaching services are available nationwide.
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