The Benefits Of Anger Management Counseling
By: Sarah Fader
Updated February 04, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
How many times have you heard someone say, "You need to learn to control your temper"? This is often stated to young children when they throw a tantrum and it may be suggested that the child may count to ten. However, if one gives this instruction with no valid reason behind it, the advice may not only go unheeded, but the child may grow up unable to control his or her temper or anger. Then again, have you tried explaining the reason to a child having a temper tantrum? This is usually not an easy task but is much better absorbed after the child calms down. This again reinforces the purpose of counting to ten.
The Purpose of Counting to Ten
Believe it or not, this works for people of all ages. Of course, when you become an adult, ten may not seem like enough. After all, adults have much larger problems than a small child. However, there are some adults that react to situations in the same manner they did as young children. The only difference being that a large person throwing a tantrum can create more problems at home, with friendships, and in the workplace.
The grown person with anger issues has never learned to curb his or her anger for one reason or another. The slightest thing seems to set this individual off, leaving those witnessing the blowup feeling uncomfortable and stressed. This person might be referred to as quick-tempered or hot-headed. A more accurate term for this individual might be someone who has intermittent explosive disorder or explosive anger disorder. This disorder affects about 13 million adults in the United States. For this individual, there is not a moment in which he or she says, "I better count to ten." Before this thought can form, he or she has already reacted. This can be genetic or environmental. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Substance abuse
- Experiencing mental or physical trauma
- Growing up with those who have explosive behaviors
- Violence exposure at an early age
- Certain physical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or traumatic brain injury
- Mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorders
Personality and Anger
Anger is a natural human emotion and everyone feels it once in a while. It is how you deal with this feeling that matters the most. Some people take anger in stride and seem to barely feel it at all. We refer to these people as mellow or even-tempered. We all know people who are even-tempered. These are the mellow people who just seem to drift through their days with hardly any angst at all. They spill milk or break a dish and they smile, shrug their shoulders, clean up the mess, and move on about their day. The individual with
They spill milk or break a dish and they smile, shrug their shoulders, clean up the mess, and move on about their day. The individual with intermittent explosive disorder or explosive anger disorder throws a tantrum and may continue yelling about the mishap or might even break other things. The worst scenario is if someone else spilled the milk or broke the dish, then the anger is directed toward them and can result in violence.
There is evidence that suggests that there is a link between personality and temper and supports the idea that certain personality disorders are prone to bad tempers. These individuals seem to always be on edge, and any little thing can indeed set them off. This individual will does not feel comfortable being angry; however, may not be willing to admit, or may lack the insight to admit that he or she needs help.
Signs You May Need Anger Management Counseling
So, how do you know if you have intermittent explosive disorder or need anger management? You have been handling anger the same way your whole life so how are you supposed to know if it is out of control or not? Well, here are some signs that you may need anger management counseling:
- Physical aggressiveness such as hitting or pushing others
- Damaging property
- You have been told that you need help more than once
- Road rage
- You have gotten in trouble at school or work for your anger outbursts
- Verbal abuse
- You break things, slam doors, throw things, hit walls
- You scream and yell
- Racing thoughts
- You feel overwhelmed
- You have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else
- You have lost friends or loved ones over your angry outbursts
- You get physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, tingling anywhere in the body, dizziness, fatigue, or pressure in the head or sinuses
If you have any of these signs or if you have heard from others that you may need anger management counseling, it is worth it to talk to someone. It may seem silly to you because you may think you have it all under control and you have not hurt anyone but it is better if you take control of this problem before that happens.
Causes of Anger Management Control Issues
As mentioned previously, you may not have learned how to control your anger when you were younger, causing you to carry these issues into adulthood. However, not everyone with anger issues had problems when they were young. Here are some causes of anger management issues:
- Witnessing emotional or physical abuse as a child
- Being mentally, physically, or sexually abused
- Traumatic incident (PTSD)
- Taught to ignore or hide your emotions
- Lack of sleep
- Low self-esteem
- Certain medications
- Physical or mental illnesses
- Stress or anxiety
Anger Management Counseling
Anger management is a type of therapy that uses cognitive-behavioral techniques so that the individual can learn to use cognition to control the anger, and therefore learn new behaviors. For example, if a person is prone to door slamming, breaking things, or hitting walls when angry, the therapist might have the individual explore the mental processes taking place and connect them with the slamming of a door, breaking of an object, or hitting a wall. It is fairly clear that when someone slams a door, they are closing someone out on the other side. That individual and not the door is the target of anger. Note: Target, not cause.
No one can make another person angry. Actions may move a person to anger; however, anger is a choice, even when it is difficult to control. Even in toxic relationships, where the other party deliberately activates triggers, it is the responsibility of the individual to keep his or her cool.
Anger management can help individuals with anger issues learn to gain insight into why they react or overreact to certain triggers. With continued therapy and practice of strategies at home and at work, the individual can learn to control anger by putting triggers, such as spilled milk or a broken dish, into perspective.
Talking about these types of episodes allows the individual to see how anger has taken a front seat in how he or she conducts life. Once this happens, there will still be more work to do, and it will need to be done with conscious effort. There may or may not come a day when it will be easy, but at least having an awareness allows the individual to think before acting, and that can mean improved relationships and general well-being.
What Can Happen if You Do Not Get Help
Long term anger problems such as intermittent explosive disorder or explosive anger disorder can cause anxiety disorders and depression, among other things. There are many physical, emotional, and other types of problems that can be caused or aggravated by unresolved anger issues. Some of these include:
- Migraine or stress headaches
- Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
- Heart disease and increased risk of stroke
- Muscle tension and pain
- Chronic sleep disorders
- Loss of relationships
- Job loss
- Legal problems
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight loss or gain
- Depression or other mental disorders
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Domestic or child abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It is not just you that is being affected by your anger issues. When you blow up or lose your cool, other people who witness it are also affected. If you have children who see you getting out of hand over situations that do not warrant it, they have a higher than average chance of having.
Getting the Help You Need When You Need It
There are treatments that can help and the number one treatment is anger management counseling or therapy. These types of treatments can be done one on one with a psychologist or therapist or through group counseling. You can do this by going to an office to see a therapist or group or you can even do anger management therapy at home. This is extremely beneficial to you if you live in a rural area or just do not have the time to search for a therapist or group near you.
It is also great for those who are afraid that their anger may rear its ugly head during a session. Being in the comfort of your own home gives you a more secure feeling and this can make a big difference in the success of your treatment. The hardest part is deciding to get the help. Individuals with intermittent explosive disorder or other types of anger management issues usually do not think they have a problem and therefore, do not see any reason to seek help. However, if you have been told that you need to get anger management counseling by more than one person, chances are pretty good that you do need to get some help.
Take that first step. Talk to someone. If you do it online or on your phone, you do not even need to leave your home and do not have to make a commitment to anyone. In fact, BetterHelp.com has a free trial that you can use to see what you think and how it makes you feel. You can even stay anonymous so there are no risks or obligation. So, what have you got to lose besides your anger management issues? Give it a try.
For more information on anger management, visit BetterHelp.