Finding The Right Anger Management Therapist
By: Jessica Anderson
Updated November 23, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Anger is a normal human emotion; everyone has experienced it, and it can actually be healthy. An anger response can be anything from a slight irritation to complete rage. This emotion can get out of control for some people, and when it does, it can ruin relationships and cause enormous problems. Finding the right anger management therapist can help you control your anger and live a life with fulfilling relationships.
Anger itself has two components: emotional and physiological. It is a powerful emotion that triggers many changes in body chemistry. The physiological arousal causes the heart rate to increase, raises blood pressure, and triggers the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. If you experience out-of-control anger, it is important to seek help froma qualified anger management therapist.Unmanaged anger is not healthy for the body or mind.
What Causes Anger?
Anger is an emotion that has evolved over the years to aid in our survival. It helps us deal with threats by providing the bodily and emotional responses required to confront dangerous situations and ensure our survival.
The intensity of the anger response varies depending on the individual and on the event that triggered it. Thoughts, memories, and past trauma are common internal triggers. In fact, thinking about people, places, and events that caused anger in the past can easily trigger the emotion in the present. Chronic external stimuli, such as difficulties at work, or a single stressful event, like your car breaking down on a busy street, can also trigger anger.
Anger becomes a problem when an aggressive response is not necessary in the situation. If you experience out-of-control anger over a trivial matter, it's important to find the right anger management therapist to help you learn about and manage your anger. Out-of-control anger is not healthy for your body, your mind, or the people around you.
Finding The Right Anger Management Therapist
Finding the right anger management therapist can help you get the treatment that is right for you. If anger is taking a toll on your life, you deserve to receive the right help help from the right person, so you can find a way back to a healthier emotional state.
While you're in the process of seeking and obtaining professional help, you may also want to consider at-home anger management techniques. For example, when you begin to feel angry, take a few deep breaths, and slowly count to ten; do not react to the situation at hand until after you have allowed yourself to slow down first. When you take time to relax physically before responding, your anger levels may lessen significantly. Deep breathing also lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, which are two physical symptoms of the emotion.
Other at-home methods that can help lessen anger include getting adequate rest and engaging in regular exercise routines. When you feel better physically, you can more easily manage your emotions and your reactions.
Help With Triggers And Self-Awareness
A good anger management therapist can also do more than provide you with techniques for managing your anger. They will work with you to help you understand your specific triggers, and they'll get to the root of the problem—the sources of your anger—instead of only addressing it on a surface level. When you find the right anger management therapist, the challenges you face with this emotion can be addressed and lessened.
A therapist can also help you examine your life experiences, past and present, so that you can understand your anger more clearly. If you experience explosive anger toward other people or external events, it may be compounded afterward by feelings of regret or shame. Working through your deeper emotional self with the help of a caring, licensed professional can bring greater self-awareness and help you to unburden yourself.
Your therapist should also be able to help you with impulse control. Remember that anger is a natural human emotional response that can be useful and even healthy, depending on the situation.You can, however, work to eliminate negative, inappropriate, or extreme reactions to feeling angry. Practicing and implementing impulse control with the help of a therapist can help you manage anger outbursts, so that emotion will have less of an impact on your life.
Talk therapy may be the best way for some people to develop anger management skills, but it may not be the most effective treatment for everyone. Some people may need something more in depth, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This approach helps people make specific changes in their lives by focusing on current situations and personal beliefs. Another method is Psychodynamic Therapy. This tool uses self-reflection to find the root causes of the problem you're experiencing. In addition, Family Therapy can help those who have allowed their anger to affect the people closest to them. No matter what type of therapy you need, the right therapist will be able to help you determine the best path forward, and then they'll guide you down the road to improvement.
Consider Other Approaches To Therapy
Just as a trainer at a gym can coach you through using exercise machines safely, a therapist can coach you through managing your anger safely, in ways that will keep you mentally and physically healthier over time. The American Psychological Association has noted that excessive anger can lead to numerous negative health outcomes over time: neurological functioning, cardiovascular health, memory loss, immune system functioning, digestive problems, and more.
You might wonder if therapy is truly the best solution to managing your anger. You also might feel embarrassed or self-conscious about pursuing therapy for anger. However, you deserve to be able to feel in control of your life and your responses to situations; if anger is keeping you from feeling in control, then a licensed therapist can help. Therapy is often instrumental in helping individuals learn to manage their anger, and online therapy offered by BetterHelpcan be a flexible, effective mental healthcare solution.
Online therapy can be arranged around your life; with no need for transportation to an appointment, you can save time and hassle. The discretion of online therapy also means that you don’t need to share your mental healthcare plans with anyone, and you can choose the channel of communications that fit you the best—video chats, phone calls, emails, or even text messages.These reviews from BetterHelp users also show what makes online therapy different when dealing with anger.
"I'm generally not a negative person but I'm very self aware that I have vast mood swings of anger and pessimism and I get that from my dad. I chose Douglas because he counsels using cognitive behavioral therapy and anger management - which is the kind of therapy I need. Douglas comes up with clear solutions and I appreciate that. I didn't want a therapist to tell me to talk about my day and how does that make me feel and that it's normal to have these feelings. I know it is normal to feel angry sometimes, but I wanted to understand how to recognize it and address it. So if you need constructive conversation with fast results for everyday annoyances and (especially effective child rearing advice!) I think Douglas is your therapist."
"Steve is amazing and does a good job at making this seem like less of a counseling session and more of a conversation between friends. He helped me talk through my anger issues and road rage and gave me lots of problem solving tools. I highly recommend him!"
Anger can be a difficult emotion to manage, but remember that help is available. With support from the right anger management therapist, you can move forward toward a healthier, happier life. Take the first step today.
Why am I so angry all the time?
Sometimes, the reason for your angeris obvious: a string of bad-luck incidents, dealing with difficult people on a regular basis, living through a stressful situation, or just having a bad day. However, some reasons for anger may be a little more hidden:
- You may have anxiety. Sometimes, anger management issues can be a result of anxiety.
- You may have gone through a recent life change. Grief over the death of a loved one or the loss of a relationship, as well as losing one’s job or having to move to a new place, can be sources of anger.
- You frequently consume bad news on social media. Taking in constant news stories of injustice or pain can sink into your mood and cause anger.
- You may have an underlying disorder that has not been diagnosed. Anger management problems can sometimes be due to disorders like intermittent explosive disorder.
- You have experienced past trauma. These experiences could include being raised in a home where anger was not processed in healthy ways.
If you feel angry all the time, anger management therapists can helpyou learn why you feel this way. Knowing the cause can help you relieve the symptoms.
Do I have anger issues?
Everyone gets angry from time to time, and everyone even has moments when their anger might not match the situation. However, there’s a difference between a moment of anger and an anger issue. Here are some signs:
- You frequently find yourself feeling furious or spiteful toward people, even for slightannoyances.
- When you do get angry, your feelings last for a long time or explode in an outburst.
- After you’ve calmed down, you wonder whether your anger response was excessive.
- Your anger has damaged relationships or even gotten you into legal trouble.
If you think that you might have an anger issue, it’s a good idea to seek help from an anger management specialist.
Can a therapist help with anger?
Yes! Anger management therapists are trained to get to the root of anger problems and help people just like you find ways to express their emotions morehealthily. If you are considering therapy to treat your anger issues, then you are already making a strong, courageous choice. Managing anger is a challenge for many people, but anger management counseling from a licensed professional counselor can help you live a more fulfilling, peaceful life.
What is the best therapy for anger management?
You may wonder which kind ofanger management therapy is the best.The truth is that there’s no single best type. We all respond to certain therapy techniques in our own ways, so you can find the best fit for you. Here are several therapies that are commonly associated with helping those who have anger management issues:
As the name suggests, this therapy type uses art—writing, painting, drawing, or other visual arts—for the expression of emotions. You don’t need to be a talented artist for art therapy to help with your anger management issues. The goal is to express your anger in a productive way that doesn’t harm others, and an art therapist can help you interpret what your art means.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a technique used by most therapists, not just anger management therapists. With cognitive behavioral therapy, the relationship between one’s habits and thoughts are explored. For example, when you have angry thoughts, you may end up yelling at someone or punching a wall—negative anger responses. Anger management therapists may use cognitive behavioral therapy to help you replace those responses, as well as reframe your angry thoughts in response to triggers.
Anger management therapy is typically thought of as an individual pursuit. However, anger management therapy can involve partners, especially if both have anger issues or feed into each other’s anger.
With couples therapy, the couple’s conversations and arguments will be explored. The point of couples therapy is to help couples find solutions that will strengthen them as a team. For example, learning to use more productive language can help with deescalating an argument. Someone with anger management issues can learn how to avoid taking out their feelings on their spouse.
This type of therapy is commonly associated with a fear. Exposure therapy involves a client getting gradually exposed to what they’re afraid of, such as showing an arachnophobe photos or videos of spiders, before working their way up to a real spider.
Anger management therapists may use exposure therapy as well. If someone has a trigger that makes them rage, anger management classes are a safe way to be gradually exposed to that source of anger, so they learn to be desensitized to it.
When anger runs in the family, a family therapist could be the best anger management solution. Couples and family therapy are quite similar, as a family therapist works with the unit as a whole to address anger management issues. A family therapist may explore the relationships between angry parents and their kids, or how family fights can be solved in a productive, not angry, manner.
Both couples and family therapy work better when all parties participate as a unit. A family therapist may also work with each member of the family individually, but the goal is to unite the family.
This is a form of talk therapy that explores the individual’s relationship with the world. By letting a person talk about their fears, their experiences, and their overall lives, psychodynamic therapy seeks to get to the unconscious feelings that may be driving them to behave a certain way. Anger management therapists may use psychodynamic therapy to help treat other issues, such as depression, anxiety, and more.
If a person is in an intimate relationship, their sex life can be explored as a possible source of anger—for example, lack of sexual satisfaction or causes of lowered libido. In some cases, sex therapy can improve one’s libido and sexual relationships.
Are There Free Anger Management Classes?
Community resources vary, so you should do a web search for meetups or free classes in your area. You may also be able to find free online courses and apps to help you learn to manage your anger. Additionally, online counseling resources like BetterHelp are designed to be flexible and affordable.
How Do I Control My Anger Outbursts?
Outbursts of anger can be alarming, but they are controllable. Here are some ways to control an outburst:
- If you feel anger building up, remove yourself from the situation.
- Calming techniques,like meditation or listening to calming sounds, may help you to regulate your breathing and manage your stress response.
- Identify your triggers. What has led you to experience angry outbursts in the past? How can you avoid or minimize your triggers?
- Don’t bottle up your anger. This can often lead to an outburst. Instead, learn how to processyour anger in safe, manageable ways when you experience it, not afterward.
- Go for a run or workout. Exercise can calm you down and help rage to dissipate.
Is Excessive Anger A Mental Illness?
Some people may experience excessive anger due to past trauma or difficult childhood environments, but others may have anger disorders. For example, intermittent explosive disorder (IED)is characterized by sudden, angry outbursts.
Sometimes, anger can be the byproduct of another mental disorder, like anxiety or depression. A licensed psychologist can diagnose and treat these issues.
What Is The Psychological Reason For Anger?
Anger is known as a social emotion, meaning that it is a response to a social trigger. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” You can be angry at yourself, someone else, or an inanimate object or force that you think is causing pain.
Is There Medication For Irritability?
Certain medications may help with irritability. For example, Risperidone is commonly used for irritability, particularly for people with autism spectrum disorder. Your primary care provider may be able to prescribe a medication that helps you with irritability, but anger management techniques are equally important and can be accessed through various forms of therapy. Try not to rely on medication alone when psychotherapy can better support a long-term recovery.
Are Anger Issues Genetic?
Some genetic indicators may lead to a greater likelihood of anger management issues, but environmental issues typically play a larger role. The household environment in which you were raised could contribute to your management of anger; for instance, being raised by a parent who did not deal appropriately with their own anger may have prevented you from learning healthy ways to process your own emotions. Additionally, community environment factors like lead poisoning may play a role in aggressive behavior over time. Whatever the cause, giving in to anger can be a very difficult habit to change on your own. Therapy, either for an individual or for a family, can make a difference.
What Is The Hormone That Causes Anger?
No single hormone is responsible for anger, but rather different hormones at different levels. For example, too-high or too-low levels of testosterone may cause anger management issues. Also,a hormone called epinephrine is responsible for panic, which can lead to anger.
If you think your hormones may be causing your anger, professional help may give you answers. Seeking help from a clinical psychologist is important, and your primary care provider may also be able to identify and treat underlying hormonal issues.
Can Anxiety Manifest As Anger?
Anxiety can show itself in many different ways, and one of those ways can include anger. When someone feels overwhelmed, the only way they feel they can let it out might be by exploding. While notevery anxious person faces anger management issues, this additional struggle can be common, especially in times of distress. It’s important to seek help from a clinical psychologist if you're anxious and angry. You do not need to experience that difficult combination of emotions all on your own.
How Do You Live With Someone Who Is Always Angry?
Living with someone who has unmanaged angercan be difficult and stressful. You may feel like you cannot do anything right in their opinion. Alternatively, they may not be angry at you, but instead other people, but those secondhand negative emotions can still be draining. Here are some ways to live with someone who is not managing their anger:
- Not all anger is abusive, but explosive or demeaning behavior can be a sign of abuse. If you experience humiliation, manipulation, fear, or a sense of danger, call a trusted person or a hotline. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you're able to move out safely, do so.
- Avoid conversations that could spark unnecessary anger. Keep in mind that you do not need to prioritize someone else’s anger issues over your own wellbeing, but choosing to step back from small arguments may make your own day-to-day life a little easier.
- Try not to respond with anger. Practicing anger management on your own can set a good example, as well as prevent escalation of angry outbursts.
- Do your best to respond with compassion and assertiveness. Providing a combination of affirmation (e.g., “I can tell that you’re upset”) and firmness (e.g., “I’m not able to help with this situation right now”) can be the right balance to deal with someone who has anger management issues.
- Encourage the person to pursue anger management therapy. Often, anger is due to many issues, such as personality, personal history, and other factors that make it hard to control. Individual psychotherapy for any issues relating to anger can help.
How Do You Process Anger?
Anger management is not about getting rid of anger altogether, but about processing anger in a healthy way. When you experience anger, it may be valid, but you need to process it in a way that will not harm you or others. Here are some anger management techniques to help you process anger in healthy ways:
- Practice deep breathing. You’ve probably heard this one before, but mindful breathing is popular for a reason. Breathing helps calm your strong emotions and delivers much-needed oxygen, allowing you to focus.
- Write down your anger or express it artistically. Writing down the experience that led to anger can help you channel and rationalize your emotions, and it might even provide you with a long-term emotional and creative outlet.
- Sleep on it. Of course, it can be hard to sleep when you're angry, but if you can get some rest, you may feel better in the morning. Try deep breathing, non-habit-forming sleep aids like herbal tea or a vitamin supplement, or other calming methods.
- Get moving. If you’re experiencing anger earlier in the day, working out can help you release the aggression that may accompany the emotions you're feeling.Exercise also releases endorphins, which can calm you down.
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