Working with anger and aggression
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Justin Lee Slaughter. Humanistic Integrative Counsellor. MBACP (Reg)
25th August, 20160 Comments
When we feel an injustice has occurred, if we have been unheard and our needs unmet, if we feel threatened or anxious; we can become angry. Anger can be useful as a defence and as a way of recognising when something affects us. It can become problematic when it occurs frequently and disproportionately, or turned in on ourselves and when it becomes destructive to our relationships. Whether or not this anger is directed at ourselves, others, or if we are unable to articulate it and express it appropriately, this can be problematic.
Anger can impact our mental health in various ways, increasing our stress levels, exacerbating existing mental health issues and affecting your sense of self-esteem. Anger can also affect your physical health.
Recognising the impact your anger is having on your self and others is a useful stepping stone towards change. It may be worthwhile thinking about how you express your anger, what triggers your anger and consider any previous and current experiences which may relate to this. Anger has a lot to do with the way we perceive certain situations, which probably relates in some way to our own past and present experiences and how we have experienced anger previously. Exploring these perceptions and our sense of our previous and present experiences can be necessary for change.
It may be helpful to consider ways of managing your anger as well as exploring the triggers, reactions, responses and impact it is having. There are a number of techniques and approaches which can be utilised:
- Time to think, pause and try counting to ten.
- Calming techniques such as breathing.
- Being creative.
- Being aware of triggers and choosing how you react and respond.
- Being aware of the consequences of being angry.
- Exercise (many report is useful).
Counselling with anger issues is important to identify triggers and to explore your own expectations and responses to these. Consider what may be done differently. What does being angry do for you? What are your needs? What are the consequences of being angry? Consider the impact on you and others. Look at the inner beliefs, attitudes, values and expectations you have, where might these thoughts have developed and come from, such as:
'Life's not fair.'
'Should's, must's, and will do's.'
'You never listen.'
As well as providing a safe, non judgemental and explorative space. You may also be able to express and experience new ways of being and may find creative avenues in exploring and expressing your anger. You may find that being taught various techniques could be beneficial in the space counselling offers. Creating changes in your view of yourself and others, leading to a better self-understanding and self-awareness. You may find that feeling heard and valued for the first time can lead you to change and towards feeling less frustrated.
About the author
I have a background in counselling and psychotherapy, social science and in healthcare with a broad range of experience in both adult and adolescent mental health. I manage a small private practice, I currently volunteer as part of a counselling team at THT Brighton and Hove.
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