Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Say someone cuts you off while you’re driving — a little bubble of anger isn’t to be unexpected. Or maybe you feel slightly angry if a friend bails on plans at the very last minute. There are bound to be situations in life that make you angry. But if you feel angry much of the time or like you can’t control your anger, you may need help learning skills that can help you get it under control. That’s where therapy for anger management comes in.
By working on how you deal with your uncontrolled anger in a therapeutic setting, you can address what may be at the root of your feelings and come up with more productive ways of dealing with it.
Anger is a healthy emotion that can pop up for a variety of reasons. Not only that, the intensity in which you feel this emotion can range from slight irritation to extreme anger.
So, what causes anger?
Internal or external events can be to blame. For example, you may notice signs of anger around something you’re feeling inside (perhaps you blame yourself for something). But it can also develop as a result of something like someone being a jerk to you, someone not using their turn signal, being overcharged on your cable bill or a multitude of other relatively common-but-super-inconvenient situations.
When it comes to responses to anger, there are many different ways people choose to cope. It’s not uncommon to have an aggressive reaction in response to angry feelings.
Other people may suppress the feeling, which is also not healthy and can affect your quality of life.
And sometimes, when anger is suppressed, it can come out or bubble up in different ways unhealthy ways. Passive aggressive behavior, reactionary outbursts — there’s a spectrum.
It’s important to know that chronic anger can even impact your physical health and cause things like high blood pressure, headaches, an increased heart rate and more.
Not sure if you have trouble resolving anger in a healthy way? Here are some signs you may have an issue:
You have ongoing issues with coworkers
You are often holding a grudge
Family or friends have brought up concerns regarding your anger
You are angry often
You get aggressive when angry
If these negative emotions and your actions surrounding them start affecting your daily life, you need to take action.
Anger management therapy can absolutely help you develop healthier responses to anger. In fact, around 75 percent of people who engaged with anger management therapy noticed improvement.
If you seek out therapy to help with anger, you will spend time exploring what triggers you. You may also talk about things like how anger has impacted your life and how you can better resolve conflict when it occurs.
With this technique, a therapy provider will have you think of something that makes you angry and then coach and give you some essential tools you can use to relax. You’ll practice this over and over until you’re able to relax on your own by thinking about a certain word or image.You may even learn breathing exercises to help.
There are many different types of therapy that can help you process and deal with anger in a more healthy way.
In a meta-analysis of 96 studies that looked at nine different types of psychological treatment, researchers found that a number of types of therapy can be effective for anger.
Here are some of the most commonly used therapy types for anger management:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Often considered the best therapy for anger management, CBT is all about identifying negative patterns (like those caused by anger). From there, mental health professionals help come up with ways to change those patterns.
Family Therapy: If your family has issues with anger, it may be helpful to work through these emotions together to improve your personal relationships.
Psychodynamic Therapy: Self-reflection is the focus of this type of therapy. Mental health providers who engage with this modality of therapy encourage patients to look at the roots of where their anger may stem from.
The expression of anger is totally normal. However, if you feel intense anger often or find that it affects your day-to-day life, you may need to look into anger management treatment.
Therapy is an effective approach to dealing with anger symptoms. A mental health therapist or professional can help you learn how to deal with your negative feelings and assist you with managing this very human emotion.
In therapy, you’ll learn to identify anger triggers and find ways to better approach these feelings.
If you’d like to speak with a mental health professional, consider scheduling an online consultation now.
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Dr. Vicky Davis is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years of experience in clinical practice, leadership and education.
Dr. Davis' expertise include direct patient care and many years working in clinical research to bring evidence-based care to patients and their families.
She is also an active member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.