How To Best Manage Anger
Anger is a common emotion that everyone experiences from time to time.
While anger isn’t necessarily harmful and it’s understandable in certain situations, chronic and uncontrolled anger can interfere with an individual’s overall health. In severe cases, it may even harm interpersonal relationships and careers. If an individual is constantly angry and it appears anger has taken over his/her life, therapy is an excellent option for treatment. In some situations, people may be dealing with someone who is frequently angry. Therapy also helps them navigate their own emotions as they deal with the challenges of their loved ones with uncontrollable anger.
When And How Therapy Can Help With Anger
Research shows that therapy, in the long term, may result in positive changes in the brain. Therapy is considered an important part of an anger treatment plan. The overall goal is to help an individual learn strategies to alter behaviors toward triggers and manage anger in better ways. Therapy also provides support if someone has a family member or other loved one whose anger issues are affecting them.
- antisocial personality disorder
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- bipolar disorder
- dissociative disorders, such as from trauma
- intermittent explosive disorder
- oppositional defiant disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- sleep disorders
Treatment is possible with those suffering with anger management. Depending on the underlying cause and severity of a person’s anger, a mental health professional may recommend specific therapies. Sometimes these are combined with medications.
While not a cure for any mental health condition, therapy can improve quality of life by minimizing symptoms. A benefits of therapy include improved interpersonal relationships and communication.
Anger Therapy In Children and Teens
While it’s normal for young children to have occasional temper tantrums and for teens to be irritable from time to time, frequent angry outbursts may indicate an underlying issue. If a child has uncontrolled anger, talking to a pediatrician is the first step. Depending on the situation, the pediatrician may recommend a mental health evaluation before a referral to a therapist.
For young children, parent management techniques (PMT) may help. PMT focuses on positive reinforcement by rewarding good behavior, rather than punishing children for angry outbursts.
Anger is a normal emotion in children and teens who might be experiencing life changes. For children or teens feeling angry and overwhelmed, speak to a trusted adult. This may be a parent, a teacher, or a school counselor.
What Therapies Work For Anger?
Rather than suppressing anger, the overall goal of therapy is to help the person work through it so he/she can have a healthier, more balanced relationship with his/her emotions.
A mental health professional can make specific therapy recommendations based on both the severity of the anger as well as the underlying cause(s). Here are some of the most effective forms of therapy used to treat anger.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - CBT is a psychotherapy technique used in a variety of mental health treatment programs. It works by helping individuals recognize what triggers their anger and identifying how they normally respond to such triggers. Then, with the help of a therapist, they learn new ways to respond to anger. This type of therapy may also be helpful in treating anger that’s caused by emotional trauma.
If there is a loved one with anger issues, CBT may also help this person learn how to cope with these types of situations and the therapist will offer healthy responses to another person’s anger.
The therapist will help identify personal goals and outcomes so individuals can gradually change their thoughts and behaviors AND adhere to the changes.
Psychodynamic Therapy - If anger is consuming a person’s life and affecting others, a therapist might recommend a technique called Psychodynamic Therapy. This type of therapy is more focused on self-reflection and works to reveal unconscious motivations to alleviate inner tension. Individuals may also learn how to express anger in ways that don’t affect friends, family, and co-workers.
Group Therapy - Group Therapy is aimed at individuals who’s self esteem is affected and are feeling guilty and isolated as a result of their chronic anger. Led by a professional, these sessions allow for participants to get together on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly. Participants feel less alone throughout their treatment and are able to learn about others’ coping strategies. Depending on needs, some types of group therapies are family-based. Group therapy is often a supplement to other types of therapy. Most people still need to see a therapist for individual sessions to gain the most benefits.
Play Therapy - Play Therapy is a form of psychotherapy designed specifically for young children. During these sessions, a licensed therapist will use creative forms of play to help children express their feelings and thoughts. Play may include using puppets, sand boxes, art, music, and more. The goal of play therapy is to help children learn how to cope with challenges while also increasing self-esteem. In considering the treatment of anger, play therapy can help children navigate their emotions in a more constructive way.
What Therapist Is Best For Anger?
Finding a licensed and experienced therapist is critical for a successful treatment plan and progress. Here’s who can help:
- Psychotherapist. This is the most common type of mental health professional. Also called “talk therapists,” these types of counselors work collaboratively with to patients to address underlying anger issues and their causes, while also helping the patient reach healthy behavioral goals.
- Psychiatrist. Like psychotherapists, psychiatrists can administer therapies for mental health treatment. These professionals are also doctors, so they have the ability to administer medications if needed.
- Play Therapist. Younger children may benefit from psychotherapy done in the form of play therapy.
- School Counselor. These licensed mental health professionals are good starting points for children, teens, and college students. They may also help this population work through school-related triggers of their anger.
How To Get Help
- Ask friends. If possible, ask friends or family members for help with recommendations, or with setting up an initial consultation.
- Talk to a healthcare provider. Family doctor, nurse, pediatrician, or other healthcare provider is another possible source for recommendations.
- Ask a school counselor. Additionally, they may be able to provide a list of local therapists.
- Search online. The American Psychological Association has a free locator tool for licensed psychologists in the area.
- Contact your local CTSHealth office.
Be sure to check any recommendations against the insurance company’s list of mental health providers, if applicable. Also consider checking with a prospective therapist about the insurance carriers they take, the possibility to pay on a sliding scale, and other questions of cost.
Have patience with the process. It can take time before finding the right therapist and then additional time to work with suggested techniques. The results are worth the time and effort.