The Benefits Of Anger Management Therapy

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Learn to manage your anger

When an adult experiences difficulty coping with anger and controlling their anger, resulting in outbursts, this can sometimes constitute an intermittent explosive disorder. Even if you don’t have this diagnosis, you may benefit from anger management therapy if you engage in physical aggressiveness or verbal abuse when angry. Other signs that anger management therapy could be helpful include racing thoughts, feelings of overwhelm, road rage, breaking things, and getting in trouble at work or school when you express anger. Getting anger management tips might also be effective in certain instances. Anger management therapy often uses cognitive-behavioral techniques to help you manage anger more healthily. You may find anger management services locally or through an online therapy platform.

The purpose of counting to ten

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 this yourself when you were young. It’s a technique frequently used around the world to restore calm when experiencing intense anger or frustration.

Though some may find it surprising, the counting method has the potential to help an angry person or an individual experiencing similar emotions find calm regardless of their age. Of course, when you become an adult, ten may not seem like enough. After all, adults generally have much larger problems than young children. However, there are some adults that react to situations in the same manner they did as children. The only difference is that an adult throwing a tantrum can create other challenges at home, with friendships, and in the workplace.

An adult living with anger challenges might not have learned how to deal with anger in their earlier years of life. The slightest thing may seem to set this individual off, potentially 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 an intermittent explosive disorder. This disorder generally affects about 13 million adults in the United States. For this individual, there is not a moment in which they can say, "I better count to ten." Before this thought can form, they usually have already reacted. This disorder can be genetic or stem from environmental causes. Some of the most common risk factors can include:

  • Substance misuse
  • Experiencing mental or physical trauma
  • Growing up with those who have explosive behaviors
  • Exposure to violence at an early age
  • Certain physical health conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease or a 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

From reading anger quotes, we already know that anger itself can be a natural human emotion, and everyone may feel it once in a while. It is generally how you cope with feeling angry that matters the most. Some people take anger in stride and seem to barely feel it at all. We often refer to these people as mellow or even-tempered. We may all know people who are even-tempered. They usually seem to drift through their days with hardly any angst at all. They might spill milk or break a dish, and they simply smile, shrug their shoulders, clean up the mess, and move on about their day.

Others may find it more difficult to calm down when something upsetting occurs. The individual with intermittent explosive disorder may throw a tantrum and continue yelling about the mishap. They might even break other things. The worst scenario could be if someone else spilled the milk or broke the dish, then the anger could be directed toward them and could 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 that few people 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 anger therapy and counseling is not only available but 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 therapy

How do you know if you have intermittent explosive disorder or need anger management? You may 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?

Here are some signs that you may need anger management therapy:
  • 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 angry outbursts
  • Engaging in verbal abuse
  • You break things, slam doors, throw things, or hit walls
  • You scream and yell
  • Racing thoughts
  • Powerful feelings of overwhelm
  • 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

If you notice any of these signs, please consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can provide a diagnosis and determine the appropriate steps to take moving forward. Working with an anger management therapist can be very beneficial for learning to respond to stressors more constructively and preventing the consequences associated with uncontrolled anger.

Causes of anger management control issues

The root of anger varies from person to person. Here are challenging situations that may lead an individual to develop issues with controlling anger:

  • Witnessing emotional or physical abuse as a child
  • Being mentally, physically, or sexually abused*
  • Traumatic incidents and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Being taught to ignore or hide your emotions
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low self-esteem
  • Certain medications
  • Physical or mental illnesses
  • Stress or anxiety

Anger management benefits

Anger management is a type of therapy that often uses cognitive-behavioral techniques so that an individual can learn to manage their anger. For example, if a person is prone to slamming doors, breaking things, or hitting walls when angry, a therapist might have them explore the mental processes taking place and connect them with the action itself. It can be fairly clear that when someone slams a door, they are generally closing someone out on the other side. The target is usually that individual, not the door itself.

As your self-awareness concerning your anger increases, you can also begin to learn that anger is not always certain. It might be considered a choice, even when it is difficult to control. In toxic relationships, in which the other party deliberately activates triggers, it can be the responsibility of the individual to keep their cool.

One of the benefits of anger management therapy is that an individual may gain a stronger sense of what kinds of emotions, thoughts, or situations spur their feelings of anger. They can also learn tools that can help them respond to stressful situations in different ways. In many cases, anger management therapy teaches individuals to develop healthy coping strategies and manage their anger more constructively.

Processing these episodes with an anger management therapist may allow the individual to see how anger has taken a front seat in how they conduct their life. Once this happens, there will generally still be more work to do, and it may need to be done with conscious effort. There may or may not come a day when it will be easy. But it's possible that anger management therapy helps build an awareness that can empower the individual to think before acting, and that can mean improved relationships with friends and family, as well as enhanced well-being.

What can happen if you do not get help?

If unaddressed, intermittent explosive disorder can contribute to anxiety disorders and depression, among other mental health issues. There are many physical and emotional issues that can be aggravated by unresolved anger issues as well. Some of these can include:

  • Migraine or stress headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease and increased risk of stroke
  • Muscle pain 
  • Chronic sleep disorders
  • Strained relationships with loved ones
  • 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)
Learn to manage your anger

It is usually not just you who is affected by your anger issues. If you have children who see you getting out of hand over situations that do not warrant it, they may have a higher-than-average chance of developing it as well. Those on the other end of your anger may be negatively impacted as well.

Getting the help you deserve

There are treatments and medication for anger that can help and the number one treatment is anger management or therapy. It's possible that anger management therapy reduces some symptoms associated with anger-related issues. This type of treatment can be done one-on-one with a psychologist or therapist. Group counseling is also available. You can get help by going to an office to see a therapist or group, or you can even do anger management therapy at home through an online therapy platform. This can be extremely beneficial to you if you live in a rural area or do not have the time to search for a therapist or group near you.

It can also be great for those who are concerned that their anger may arise during a session. Being in the comfort of your own home can give you a more assured feeling, and this can make a big difference in the success of your treatment. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used for anger management, and this type of therapy can be effective when administered online. In fact, it can also treat many other mental health disorders and may be an excellent choice for addressing the underlying cause of your anger. Online anger management therapy is an excellent approach to developing relaxation techniques and peaceful communication techniques.


Adults who engage in angry outbursts due to challenges controlling feelings of anger are sometimes diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder. This diagnosis is typically treated with anger management, but even if you don’t have an intermittent explosive disorder, you may benefit from this type of treatment. If you become physically aggressive or verbally abusive when angry, learning to manage your emotions can be helpful for you and the people around you. Other signs you may find anger management therapy valuable include engaging in road rage, damaging property, getting in trouble at school or work due to your anger, experiencing racing thoughts, and living with feelings of overwhelm. In general, anger management uses cognitive-behavioral strategies to help you learn to manage and cope with anger in a healthy way. It can be possible to attend anger management sessions face-to-face or online.
Learn to separate anger from behavior
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