Anger management: two words with several meanings

A lot of my clients with anger management issues ask me "how many sessions do I need to get the anger "fixed"?" Or they have been asked by their employers, partners or sometimes the court to seek a course in anger management.

After helping clients "fix" their anger via only Hypnotherapy and NLP techniques for several years, I achieved great success initially. Clients would leave having achieved these targets:

1. they understood how their brain and emotions were working and they could identify the signs of initial frustration quickly in their body and brain.

2. they could use their techniques, their self hypnosis and self talk to reduce if not re-frame the frustrating emotion into words that would explain their feelings better.

3. They could express their vulnerable fears and thoughts to their colleagues and spouses , which before they would funnel inside and then explode into a rage few days later over some minor trigger, i.e. explode over being asked to take the bin out but what they were actually doing was expressing physically the suppressed emotions of feeling ignored for weeks.

But then I made an interesting discovery in my private therapy room:

Quite a few of the clients who had anger management were coming back for Counselling and therapeutic work! Asked if the anger was back, they would report doing much better with anger management; but what they are seeking now is what the anger was masking from the beginning, like a hard outer layer of a coconut: vulnerable fears of abandonment, anxiety over not being good enough, fears of not being respected if they gave into intimacy... all of these fears which were being kept secret behind the tough guy/woman image that over the years had helped to keep them safe!

Had I done them a disservice by helping them with Anger Management? I asked myself...

But my clients answered with happiness that the anger was substituted by them feeling closer and more open to their spouses and children, so they were relieved about that. But now they needed help with the inner insecurities because they wanted to keep growing in their relationships, feelings and self-expression.

Hypnotherapy is great with symptom relief but limited when it comes to therapeutic work so there my training in psychology and counselling as well as psycho-traumatology helps me support, hold and help my clients re-wire their belief system, their self-esteem and their scripts about themselves, other people and the world; they walk out not needing to be "brave", "on guard", and "tough" all the time... these are skills which are best in the physical world; in the emotional world of family and intimacy, they learn to develop the skills of trust, authenticity, vulnerability, emotional language, acceptance and compassion... these are the skills which were lacking due to either childhood issues of abuse, alcoholic parents, abusive parenting styles or neglect.

Anger management: two words with several meanings:the same symptom can be serving different functions for different clients, just like an infected rose plant bush can have several reasons for the infection...

Anger formed in adults years OR in recent years could be due to recent stress and easily treated via hypnotherapy sessions; anger formed after a severe trauma like a rape, or bullying in the work placed could well need therapy to help build the trust and self esteem along with hypnotherapy to reduce the anger symptoms; anger learnt in childhood though is more ingrained as part of the personality and is serving too many functions to be uprooted on a long term basis via just hypnotherapy in few sessions; although symptom relief will be there in the short term I suggest to other professionals who are recommending "anger management" to their employees or spouses who are asking their loved one to seek "a course in anger management to assess more carefully the length and intensity of the anger if they want long term change in the person who has the anger. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Reading, Berkshire, RG5 3JF
Written by Amreeta Chapman, (MBACP, BSCH, GHR)
Reading, Berkshire, RG5 3JF

I have been seeing clients in full time private practice since 2006 as a counsellor and Psychotherapist; prior to that,  I had over 10 years' experience as a Psychologist working with domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse in Mauritius in  my twenties; and in the last three years...

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