Anger Management

Anger Management

Anger is a normal human emotion that most people experience every now and then. However, if you find yourself feeling angry very often or very intensely, it may start to become a problem. Rage, persistent anger, or angry outbursts can have detrimental consequences for physical health, quality of life, and relationships.

Anger management is an approach designed to help you manage the emotional and physiological arousal that accompanies anger. The aim of anger management therapy is to help minimise stressful or anger-evoking situations, improve self-control, and help you express your feelings in a healthy manner.

CATEGORY: Emotions

SOURCES: APS | verywellmind.com | BMD

Number: #25

 

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A study released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing in 2023 (5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old during 2020-2021) showed that more than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health.

The study is published at https://abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing/2020-21

With regard to anger and management of anger, it’s important  make a clear distinction between anger (an emotion) and aggression/violence (a behaviour).

How people manage their anger is the fundamental issue. Distinguishing between feeling angry and behaving aggressively (overtly and covertly) is an important point, and managing angry emotions appropriately is a necessary life skill. Allowing angry feelings to lead to aggressive behaviour is never acceptable.

Symptoms

Anger is an emotion and accurs on a continuum. Anger-like emotions can range from mild annoyance and frustration to intense rage, which can lead to explosive outbursts.

Anger can often mask other hidden feelings such as hurt, anxiety, and sadness, and can lead to a range of overt aggressive behaviours such as yelling, criticising, throwing objects, or hitting something.

Anger can also be accompanied by less overt behaviours such as ignoring someone or becoming withdrawn.

At the extreme level anger can lead to acts of violence and abuse such as pushing, grabbing, or hitting someone.

Causes

 

There are a number of factors that contribute to levels of anger and how we express this emotion, and whether we are able to manage our anger appropriately or become aggressive, abusive and violent.

These factors typically include genetic components and what we learned about showing and expressing anger while growing up. Life stressors can increase our likelihood of becoming angry and drugs can reduce our ability to control our aggression.

Therapy | Treatment

 

Anger management therapy can help you understand the difference between anger (an emotion) and aggression/violence (behaviour).

Therapy is not aimed at suppressing or bottling up your anger; rather, therapy aims to teach you methods to express feelings of anger in a controlled and appropriate way. Anger management focuses on learning the triggers and early warning signs of anger, and effective techniques to calm down and manage a potential problematic situation before it gets out of control.

It will include identifying what you are feeling and thinking at times you become angry and/or aggressive, and whether your anger is a secondary response to other emotions will be part of therapy. What your learned behaviours, value systems and beliefs are about anger and about aggression will also help you make changes to how you manage anger and teach you how to be assertive rather than aggressive.

Identifying Triggers and Responses

Therapy can help you develop a better understanding of the factors that contribute to expressions of anger; current and past triggers for anger; your responses to it; and the consequences or aftereffects to yourself and your relationships. For instance, you may realise that yelling at your spouse is related to observing your parents yell, or the belief that you’ll only get what you want if you yell.

Learning Strategies to Diffuse Anger

Anger management therapy can equip you with strategies to disrupt your anger or manage your response to it through avoidance or distraction. Your therapist can help you problem-solve how to respond when you’re angry. Role-plays offer opportunities to practice skills such as assertiveness and direct communication that can enhance control. Therapy can also teach you to manage the physiological ‘flooding’ that happens when people escalate beyond a place where they can sensibly have a conversation and need to take at least a 20 minute time-out to calm down, as well as coping strategies and relaxation techniques, such as slow deep breathing, or using a relaxing image to alleviate the intensity of anger.

Changing Attitude and Thought Patterns

Therapy can also involve restructuring thinking and changing attitudes related to anger, particularly if your therapist is taking a CBT approach. Your therapist will help you examine your attitudes and ways of thinking and help identify patterns such as ruminating, catastrophising, judging, fortune-telling, or magnifying that might exacerbate anger. Your therapist will also work with you to help you practice changing your response patterns. They can encourage forgiveness and compassion, offer ways to let go of hurt and disappointment, and help you repair and accept ruptured relationships.