The Benefits Of Anger Management Counseling
By: Sarah Fader
Updated May 07, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
How many times have you heard someone say, "You need to learn to control your temper—stop and count to ten”? This is often stated to young children. When they throw a tantrum, their caretakers may suggest they count. You likely heard it yourself when you were young. It’s a technique used around the world to control strong feelings of anger.
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 young children. However, there are some adults who never listened to their teachers. They react to situations in the same manner they did as kids. The only difference is 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 their feelings 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 hotheaded. A more accurate term for this individual might be someone who has intermittent explosive disorder. This disorder affects about 13 million adults in the United States. For this individual, there is not a moment in which they say, "I better count to ten." Before this thought can form, they have 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. They 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 intermittent explosive disorder throws a tantrum and may continue yelling about the mishap. They 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.
People with personality disorders can also be more prone to angry outbursts. These individuals may seem to always be on edge. Keep in mind—few enjoy being angry. At the same time, it can be hard recognizing your own problems. It can also be difficult or intimidating to seek help.
Help via therapy and counseling is not only available—it has been repeatedly shown to work. Researchers conducted a study in which participants attended just one weekly two-hour cognitive-behavioral therapy group session for 12 weeks. Following the treatment, participants reported a decrease in events that led to angry provocation. This decrease was confirmed after 16 weeks and again after 10 months.
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. 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 and post traumatic stress disorder
- 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 control their anger. 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 action itself. It is fairly clear that when someone slams a door, they are closing someone out on the other side. The target is that individual, not the door.
You can also begin to learn that anger is not certain. It might be considered a choice, even when it is difficult to control. 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 what sets them off. With continued therapy and practice of strategies at home and at work, the individual can learn to control anger by putting these events into perspective.
Talking about these types of episodes allows the individual to see how anger has taken a front seat in how they conduct their 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
If unaddressed, intermittent explosive disorder can cause anxiety disorders and depression, among other things. There are many physical and emotional issues that can be aggravated by unresolved anger issues as well. 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 who is affected by your anger issues. When you blow up or lose your cool, other people who witness it can also be hurt. 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 developing it as well.
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. Group counseling is also available. 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, it might be worth exploring a few different options. Read what others have said about their experiences with online counseling at BetterHelp below.
“Raelene Faught has helped me in just a short time with her to find ways to control my anger, emotions and work though everyday life issues. She reminds me of my boundaries with others and encourages me a lot in our messages back and forth. She is supportive and is there when I need to talk. She is always there when I need someone to talk to quickly and responds as quick as she can.”
“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!”
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