Anger management is a therapy to help people control their anger better. This can help prevent anger having a negative impact on the person with anger problems and those around them.
The British Association of Anger Management says 12% of people have trouble controlling their anger and 32% of people say they have a close friend or member of the family who has trouble controlling anger.
As well as formal anger management sessions, some self-help techniques can help prevent pent up anger from boiling over.
How can I manage anger?
When you start feeling angry, try deep breathing, positive self-talk, or stopping your angry thoughts. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax" or "take it easy". Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply until the anger subsides.
Although expressing anger is better than keeping it in, anger should be expressed in an appropriate way. Frequent outbursts of anger are often counter-productive and cause problems in relationships with others. Angry outbursts are also stressful for your nervous and cardiovascular systems and can make health problems worse. Learning how to use assertiveness is the healthy way to express your feelings, needs, and preferences. Being assertive can be used in place of using anger in these situations.
- Consider the value of physical activity such as exercise as a way to both improve mood and discharge tension and anger.
- Seek out the support of others. Talk through your feelings and try to work on changing your behaviours.
- If you have trouble realising when you are having angry thoughts, keep a log of when you feel angry.
- Try to gain a different perspective by putting yourself in another's place.
- Learn how to laugh at yourself and see humour in situations.
- Practise good listening skills. Listening can help improve communication and can facilitate trusting feelings between people. This trust can help you deal with potentially hostile emotions.
- Learn to assert yourself, expressing your feelings calmly and directly without becoming defensive, hostile, or emotionally charged. Consult self-help books on assertiveness or seek help from a professional therapist to learn how to use assertiveness and anger management skills.
Anger management therapy
If you believe that your anger is out of control and is having a negative effect on your life and relationships, seek medical advice. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a psychologist or other mental health specialist who can work with you to develop techniques for changing your thinking and your behaviour. A mental health professional can help you to deal with your anger in an appropriate way. Therapy may be available through the NHS or privately.
Anger management therapy may be one-to-one or in group sessions. A person may ask to attend, or they may be referred by a doctor or by a court.
Typically the anger management counsellor will focus on the type of anger, such as in relationships, parenting related, or in the workplace.
Therapy methods may include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness.
Anger management therapy is likely to last between four and six weeks. Before the therapy begins, the counsellor will want to know about any other mental health and physical conditions, such as addiction or depression.
Anger management will try to:
- Address why a person gets angry.
- Change the way they respond to anger triggers.
- Help the person develop coping skills to use when they start to feel angry, and to help turn unhealthy anger into a positive emotion.