Although anger is a normal, healthy emotion, it can be a problem if you find it difficult to manage. The goal of anger management therapy is to learn useful and appropriate responses to anger-provoking situations, ultimately helping you to keep anger under control.
A variety of people come for anger management therapy, and they bring as many different issues as there are people. Common issues include becoming angry very easily, over-reacting, or feeling out of control when angry. At the opposite end of the spectrum, issues include experiencing difficulty in expressing anger or the feeling of needing to hide feelings of anger. It is common to experience both.
Anger can be derived from many different sources. Often when people experience anger it is a reaction to a perceived threat. In the case of a ‘fight or flight’ response, they are responding with ‘fight’. Asking yourself, “what might I be scared of?” can provide you with more information regarding the source of the anger. You may feel angry that something has not gone your way, but you may also be scared that you could be blamed or hurt as a result.
Anger can also be experienced as a result of unresolved hurt. A situation may have caused you emotional pain, but the issues was not resolved at the time and therefore can develop into anger. You may feel hurt that a loved one acted in a certain way, and that hurt develops into anger as the person in question fails to acknowledge your hurt.
By exploring your anger through anger management therapy, you are able to learn to think differently. By thinking differently, you behave differently and the anger which was once unmanageable becomes manageable. It is helpful to take a deep look at the behaviour from the standpoint of the family of origin and subjective lived experience that can play into the behaviour. In anger management therapy we take a deep look at the cognitions that are triggering the negative reaction. By uncovering these cognitions, the root cause of the anger is established and can then be challenged. Vigorously challenging the cognitions leads to the demise of the root cause of anger, and then you and your therapist are then able to work together to develop new, healthy patterns of thinking.
As a complement to therapy, and for ongoing self-regulation of behaviour, mindfulness-based stress reduction education is often incorporated into anger management therapy. During this, you will learn how to recognise when your anger begins to develop. Through this recognition, rather than allow the anger to automatically lead to negative thoughts and behaviour, you learn to control the response, in turn leading to a healthy reaction.
Mindful meditation is also encouraged in anger management therapy. This type of meditation helps to calm the mind and encourages focus. Through increased practice you will learn to be to be fully present in the moment, and not react on impulse or become overwhelmed by your surroundings.
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