Anger Counseling: Finding The Root Of Anger And Addressing It
By: Rachel Lustbader
Updated December 31, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Tanya Harell
What Is Anger?
Anger is a human emotion and is experienced to some degree by every person. However, anger can also be an uncomfortable, nonproductive, and exhausting emotion. Individuals diagnosed with anger disorders experience uncontrollable anger, and angry is often their normal state of being. In addition, persons with intermittent explosive disorder, a diagnosable condition outlined in the DSM V, experience extreme anger over minor issues, such as burning the toast or when someone cuts them off in traffic.
When someone seems angry more often than not, there may be underlying issues that date back to childhood. When this person overreacts, or reacts explosively, it may be due to triggers related to past issues or learned behaviors. Anger is sometimes referred to as “the unrecognized emotion” in diagnosable disorderssuch as depression or anxiety. It can also be asymptom of other disorders or illnesses.
Where Does Anger Come From?
Children raised in a home where one or both parents deal with stressors by acting out angrily learn to deal with stressors in the same manner, and they tend togrow up to teach these same behaviors to their children. Individuals with anger disorders do not like to discuss stressful mattersand are typically avoidant of topics that could lead to anger. This avoidance leaves spouses, significant others, children, and coworkers in the position of having to make decisions or perform actions withoutknowing how the angry individual will respond. This in turn can cause those around that individual to feel as though they are walking on eggshells.
The person with an anger disorder tends to blame others for their anger, often beginning statements with“You made me.” Even when this person apologizes, how they phrase that apology typically leaves the other party feeling blamed.
There could also be physiological causes of anger, such as hypertension. Hypertension can cause a person to feel intensely angry. When blood pressure rises, it depletes the brain of necessary oxygen, causing the person to overreact or to act explosively. Sometimes people blame the hypertension on the anger, but it is more often the other way around. Persons who have high blood pressure and then begin taking medication often describe feelingless angry, less agitated, and even less depressed.
What Can Be Done About Anger?
Understanding the source of anger, whether it is learned behavior, an event from the past, or a medical condition, is an important first step toward regaining control of one’s emotions and life. Anger not only hurts the angry individual, but it hurts others as well, and it can also haveprofessional consequences. Lashing out angrily at loved ones can leave residual feelings of guilt that cause anger to be directed inward. The vicious cycle then continues as the angeris ultimately projected outwardly again.
Therapy can help individuals root out the source of their anger, learning new coping strategies and better communication skills and how to deal with residual guilt. Seeking therapy for anger-related issues gives hope to those who have been hurt the most: the undeserving objects of the anger. Having the entire family involved in the therapy process can prove beneficial, as the family can work on communication, recognizing triggers, and goal and boundary setting. Anger is uncomfortable and unproductive, but it does not have to be uncontrollable.
An important part of any therapeutic process is taking responsibility for anger. Cognitivebehavioral therapy is effective in helping to reroute thinking and change behaviors, but if the individual has unresolved anger due to the past, a bit of delving into those issues may prove beneficial.
Online Therapy for Anger
Based on hundreds of research studies on the effectiveness of psychotherapy for treating anger, approximately 75% of those in therapyimproved from anger management treatment. Specific therapies studied include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which clients identify unhealthy thought patterns and challenge faulty beliefs to change behaviors. Other promising therapies for treating anger are family therapy and psychodynamic therapy.
The Benefits of Online Therapy
As discussed above, therapy with a licensed therapist can help treat anger. Butin today’s busy world, it can behard to find the time to attend in-person sessions. This is where online therapy comes in. You can access BetterHelp’s platform from the comfort and privacy of your own home. In addition, online therapy offers lower pricing than in-person therapy because online therapists don’t have to pay for costs like renting an office.BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped people with anger management. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.
“Allise was perfect for me. She is kind, genuine, understanding, and extremely knowledgeable. She shared lots of methods with me to focus on positivity and self care. She never judged me or made me feel bad about my issues. 10/10 would highly recommend.”
“She is great! She let’s me express myself with no judgement. From the beginning she has been in contact with me since the first day I was assigned to her. She checks up on me and sends me encouraging messages through chat . Thanks Kimberly”
Cassiello-Robbins, C., & Barlow, D. H. (2016). Anger: The Unrecognized Emotion in Emotional Disorders. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, 23(1), 66-85. https://doi.org/10.1111/cpsp.12139
Coccaro, E. F., Lee, R., & McCloskey, M. S. (2014). Relationship between psychopathy, aggression, anger, impulsivity, and intermittent explosive disorder: Relationship Between Psychopathy, Aggression, Anger, Impulsivity, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Aggressive Behavior, 40(6), 526-536. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.21536
DiGiuseppe, R. T. R. C. (2007). Understanding Anger Disorders. Cary: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apollolib/detail.action?docID=273328
Digiuseppe, R., &Tafrate, R. C. (2001). A comprehensive treatment model for anger disorders. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(3), 262-271.
Fernandez, E., & Johnson, S. L. (2016). Anger in psychological disorders: Prevalence, presentation, etiology and prognostic implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 46, 124-135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2016.04.012
Larkin, K. T., &Zayfert, C. (2004). Anger expression and essential hypertension: Behavioral response to confrontation. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56(1), 113-118. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00066-7
Mushtaq, M., & Najam, N. (2014). Anger as a psychological risk factor of hypertension. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 29(1), 21-37.
Tremblay, R. E. (2000). The development of aggressive behaviour during childhood: What have we learned in the past century? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24(2), 129-141. https://doi.org/10.1080/016502500383232
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