Anger is a basic emotion which has allowed us to survive as a species. When a baby screams because it is hungry, too hot or too cold, it is displaying its raw anger. Anger is the emotion of not having our needs met. We are programmed with the ability to express our anger from birth – and then it gets complicated.
Although it is a healthy, normal emotion it is probably also the most complex. It can be a creative force for change or to right an injustice.
Societies and families hold different views on how it can be used and by whom. It is often poorly managed and can be destructive when it is out of control and turns to aggression.
If anger cannot be expressed it can lead to physical problems, depression and anxiety and can cause relationships to wither.
Anger, like all the emotions, involves physiological and chemical changes in the body. Heart rates and adrenaline levels are affected as the body experiences anger. For some people these surges can become addictive and destructive. There is a fine line between acknowledging anger and venting it until it is out of control.
On this page
Signs you have an anger problem
- explosive outbursts that cannot be controlled
- domestic Violence and controlling behaviour
- rages when driving or at work
- depression or anxiety may indicate introverted anger
- alcohol or drug dependence may cover an anger problem.
Reasons for anger
There are many reasons why people are unable to control their anger; often it is a family or cultural pattern that has never been questioned. In some families women are not allowed to express anger; in others being angry is unacceptable and a sign or failure for all. Tiredness, stress, pain and hormonal imbalances can all contribute to the problem.
We all have ‘hooks’ for our anger whether it is a person pushing in front of a queue or being ignored. Understanding what they are and re-examining our thoughts around them can be among the first steps to managing anger.
How could counselling help with anger?
- examining the ‘hooks’ for our anger and understanding them
- looking at our own unhealthy beliefs attached to our anger
- reassessing some of the unhelpful beliefs about anger in our family
- understanding how anger affects our close relationships
- taking responsibility for our own arousal to anger.
Anger can be:
- used effectively to sort out injustices and grievances
- disowned and take on a life of its own – as in aggressive behaviour
- disconnected and projected into those around us
- turned inwards, initially for safety, resulting in depression.
The goal of anger management is to reduce the feelings and arousal that anger creates. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help people to manage their anger, other forms of counselling may help to explore the underlying issues. Knowing how to recognise and express anger in the correct way can help individuals reach their goals, solve problems and handle emergencies – and have their needs met.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Whilst there are no official rules and regulations in place stipulating what level of training and experience a counsellor dealing with anger management needs, we do recommend that you check your therapist is experienced in the area for which you are seeking help.
There are several accredited courses, qualifications and workshops available to counsellors that can improve their knowledge of a particular area, so for peace of mind you may wish to check to see if they have had further training.
In regards to psychological treatment NHS Choices suggest counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and specific anger management programmes to help those dealing with anger.
Find out more on the NHS Choices website.
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Content written/edited by Denise Pickup BACP (Accred) in 2008. All content displayed on Counselling Directory is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional.
Whilst we endeavor to ensure all information is accurate, Counselling Directory make no representations or warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information included within the website. Any dependence you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
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