Anger is a signal that something needs to change

We all get angry. It’s a normal, healthy response to any physical or psychological threat. Yet frequently feeling angry and frustrated is a sign that something in your life is out of balance. Anger management counselling can help you take control of your anger, and live a fulfilling, balanced life. Recent studies have shown that 76% of clients report a medium to long-term improvement after a brief course of anger management counselling. Instead of reacting aggressively to situations, you will learn how to safely release your anger. Rather than hurting or alienating your partner, family or friends, you will develop ways to process anger safely, and express yourself more effectively.

Anger management isn’t about denying or repressing your anger. Expressing anger appropriately can be useful: it can keep us safe, address injustice, improve our relationships and motivate healthy change. Unchecked expressions of anger – from heated arguments to full-blown rage – clouds our judgment and ability to think clearly. Anger management counselling works because it taps into the core issues that underpin inappropriate anger, helping you to identify why you’re feeling angry.

Anger is often a mask for deeply vulnerable feelings such as hurt, fear, shame and grief. Identifying underlying concerns, recognising your anger triggers, and consciously choosing how you react are the keys to successful anger management.

Research shows that of all the human emotions – including sadness, fear, and anxiety – anger is the most difficult emotion to control. With the mounting pressures of daily life, we all need easy and safe ways to effectively discharge feelings of anger.

Anger management counselling

If you frequently find yourself feeling angry, some areas in your life may be in need of attention. Suppressing those angry feelings, or acting out aggressively in anger – verbally or physically – is not the solution to life’s difficulties. It is important to acknowledge that anger stems from our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours rather than other people’s behaviour. Anger management counselling aims to draw your attention to your own personal traits and triggers; this awareness will help you to take back control and behave in ways that are consistent with your values.

Anger management counselling is built around the idea of ceasing to use anger as a habitual way of managing everyday feelings. The goal of anger management counselling is to establish helpful and constructive behavioural ways of managing anger when it arises, and to better regulate your emotions.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anger, counselling will give you the tools you need to:

  • Reduce your anger and stress levels
  • Communicate effectively
  • Consistently behave in ways that get your needs met – without hurting other people in the process

Your counsellor will work with you within the context of your individual situation. By encouraging you to develop practical strategies to recognise your emotional triggers and modify your behavioural responses, we can help you maintain a healthy balance between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Anger and behaviour

Anger is often a red flag, a storm warning on our emotional barometer. For some people, anger is a feeling that can quickly spiral out of control. If left unchecked or allowed to build over time, feelings of anger can erupt in a sudden rage of words and/or actions. We all know the feeling of doing or saying something in the heat of the moment that we bitterly regret afterwards. Incidents that may seem trivial in retrospect often trigger uncontrollable anger being expressed in unsafe ways, with harmful, long lasting consequences.

Below are some examples of common ways that internal feelings of anger manifest as outward behaviour:

  • Arguments
  • Passive-aggressive behaviour (internalised anger)
  • Road rage
  • Workplace conflict
  • Sporting incidents
  • Public violence
  • Destruction of objects and property
  • Domestic violence: emotional, psychological, and physical

These expressions of anger vary in degrees of intensity and aggression, but they all have one thing in common: they have the potential to destroy our reputation, damage professional relationships and deeply hurt the ones we love.

Anger and gender

Although people express anger in a range of ways, research shows that there are distinct, socially conditioned gender norms that influence the way men and women handle feelings of anger.

Women frequently report feeling angry when their core values and beliefs have been violated, especially in intimate relationships. Culturally, women have been conditioned to suppress anger. Yet internalising anger often leads to harmful passive-aggressive behaviour and stress-related illnesses including anxiety, insomnia and digestive disorders.

Men predominantly report feelings of anger when they feel unable to control or fix interpersonal issues and practical problems. Biologically, men also have a very strong physical response when angry. Although many men report having learned to react to potential conflict by withdrawing, anger creates unreleased tension that may discharge through physical acts of frustration (throwing something, yelling). Men in particular are at increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke if their anger isn’t handled constructively.

Of course, women may also act out their anger, and men may internalize their feelings too. Regardless of gender, both men and women frequently report feelings of depression, guilt, shame and self-blame about their anger issues – especially if an angry outburst has hurt or caused others pain.

What can I expect in an anger management session?

Your initial sessions will establish a clear understanding of your personal situation, and formulate an individualised treatment plan. Together, you and your counsellor will:

  • Identify your habitual anger ‘triggers’ – these may involve certain people, situations, or feelings
  • Determine how your thought patterns affect your behaviour, and show you how adopting new patterns can work to your advantage
  • Identify new ways to manage stressors in your life, including lifestyle adjustments
  • Work towards improving your relationship with yourself and others

We use evidence-based interventions such as solutions-focused therapy and stress reduction techniques to help our clients address anger management concerns. By far, the most effective evidence-based treatment for anger management is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Research shows that CBT is an incredibly useful anger management tool. In a recent analysis of multiple CBT trials, 76% of clients reported a medium to long-term improvement in anger management capabilities compared to control groups. These results show there is real hope for those struggling with anger management. Life Supports anger management counselling can help you reduce your anger levels, and regain control of your emotions and behaviour.

Life Supports