How Therapy Can Help You With Your Anger Related Problems

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated February 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Experiencing anger can be normal. Anger can be a healthy emotion that occurs like any other emotion. However, if you’re quick to feel rage or hostility toward others, you might be experiencing problematic or unhealthy anger. If you feel anger is controlling your behaviors or causing stress, you might consider working with an anger management therapist to learn emotional skills to manage your anger healthily and effectively.

Is anger hurting your relationships with friends and loved ones?

Therapy for managing anger

Below are a few ways that anger management therapy may help you manage your feelings of anger and the behavioral urges accompanying them. 

1. Identify the root of anger

At times, anger may be a reaction to another emotion. Therapy can help you identify the underlying cause of your anger and work through those emotions and experiences. If you understand what causes you to feel angry, you might choose to work on changing your response or leaning into the primary emotion. 

For example, if you grew up in a home where your parents often yelled at each other, it may seem like an acceptable way to handle stressful situations in your relationships. Therapy can help you replace that urge to yell with a healthier urge, like spending time alone to calm down before interacting with others. 

You might also notice that uncontrolled anger arises out of emotions like fear. For example, if you’re afraid of losing someone, you might yell or feel angry to try to reduce the impact of the vulnerability of fear, which may not seem like a safe emotion to you. Your therapist can help you identify what the underlying emotion is and how to notice when anger is showing up as a secondary emotion.

2. Treat related mental health conditions

While anger is a normal, healthy human emotion you may experience many times throughout life, anger can also be a sign of a mental health condition. Persistent feelings of anger and irritability may indicate a mental condition such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. If your therapist believes you may be experiencing a mental illness, treating the mental illness may help reduce anger problems. 

Other mental health conditions that may include symptoms of anger can include: 

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder 
  • Substance use disorders

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.

3. Build emotional intelligence and literacy

The positive effects of working with a therapist may include increased emotional intelligence (how well you recognize your feelings) and emotional literacy (how well you communicate your feelings). Part of treating anger problems may involve examining the other emotions you experience alongside anger, what may be causing other negative feelings, and how you can effectively express your feelings to those in your life. Suppressing emotions may contribute to anger, which can affect your mental and physical health. 

4. Learn effective coping strategies for anger

According to the American Psychological Association, several coping strategies may allow you to address your anger.

Either on your own or with the help of a therapist, there are various coping skills you can use for anger, including the following:  
  • Take a moment to think before you speak 
  • Step away from the situation to avoid anger escalating
  • Avoid sarcasm as a defense mechanism
  • Practice deep breathing exercises like box breathing
  • Try using humor to break the tension
  • Practice relaxation skills, such as meditation or mindfulness practices
  • Refocus your thoughts through exercise, music, or art
  • Take a brisk walk or engage in other enjoyable physical activities
  • Count to ten to redirect your energy and attention
  • Visualize a relaxing environment or scene

5. Work on changing thought patterns and attitude

When angry, you might experience cognitive distortions, thoughts that may not be based in reality. Negative feelings may not stem from logic, so using logic and restructuring methods could be beneficial. A method called cognitive restructuring aims to change how you think, which can promote positive feelings and change how you respond to anger. 

For example, some individuals might think a flat tire means their day is ruined. However, instead of thinking negatively, you might consider telling yourself, “this situation is frustrating, but I have a plan to fix it, and I’m looking forward to relaxing once it’s done.” 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

Seek help

It may be time to seek help with your anger issues if you experience frequent arguments, struggle to control outbursts or engage in harmful behaviors. Your friends or family may have suggested seeking help due to these problems. 

Anger can influence many parts of life, such as conflicts with coworkers, violent thoughts or behaviors, legal concerns due to anger-related incidents, or explosive incidents leading to being banned from a business or online group. The American Psychological Association states that you might already know if you have a problem with anger and that psychological support can be beneficial in dealing with it.  

If you’re unsure, taking an online screening test or talking to a psychologist before setting an appointment might help you make a choice. 

Anger management therapy

Anger management is a therapy method to help clients manage emotional and physiological responses to anger. Changing the circumstances that cause anger may feel beyond your control, but changing how you react can be within your power. 

Often, anger management therapy aims to help you express your feelings in a healthy way to reduce stress and control anger. You can get assistance through anger management classes with a mental health professional. Online therapy platforms, such as BetterHelp, may also provide ways to get all the benefits of anger management counseling from the comfort of your home.

Types of therapy

A trained mental health professional or therapist may help you determine the type of anger therapy that fits your situation and circumstances. If you see a psychiatrist or other mental healthcare provider, they can help you determine whether medication for anger would be a beneficial addition to your treatment. Below are a few types of anger management therapy modalities to try. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anger

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular treatment choice for controlling anger. This type of therapy can help you understand what might cause your anger, recognize ways to change negative thought patterns, establish coping strategies, and change your physical and emotional responses to anger to stay in control of your behaviors. 

Family therapy for anger 

Family therapy might help when your anger is directed at family members. This type of therapy allows you and your loved ones to create communication strategies for difficult emotional discussions with guidance and a supportive atmosphere.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) 

According to the American Psychological Association, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a flexible, stage-based therapy that combines principles of behavior therapycognitive behavior therapy, and mindfulness.” DBT may help people experiencing frequent or intense anger. This type of therapy typically involves a structured treatment plan with modules like distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion control, and interpersonal skills. 

Psychodynamic therapy 

Psychodynamic therapy may help you examine and evaluate your past experiences to identify the psychological roots of your anger. If you are angry about the past, this therapy may be most beneficial to you.  

Is anger hurting your relationships with friends and loved ones?

Why managing anger is beneficial 

Research shows that anger and hostility can increase the chances of developing coronary heart disease and lead to unwanted outcomes in those with heart disease. Anger may also contribute to stress-related physical health issues, such as high blood pressure. Uncontrolled anger, for example, may cause your blood pressure to rocket. Managing anger may help keep your blood pressure levels in check.

Learning to manage your rage may also help improve your work life and relationships through effective communication. Focusing on your work or education when you feel angry can be challenging, and negative feelings may hurt your performance. Working in a group setting can be hard, and angry outbursts might alienate you from your peers. However, anger management can teach you strategies to repair relationships and move forward.

If your anger has caused harm in your relationships with loved ones, anger management can help you reconnect and rebuild the trust and respect you may have lost. If it has impacted your family, you might try family therapy to discuss the circumstances with those you love. Therapy can help redirect your thoughts and emotions, making it easier to let go of your own bitterness and transform your mindset.

Counseling options 

Finding effective ways to manage anger issues on your own can be challenging. You might start by asking yourself "Do I have anger issues?" If you notice anger is causing problems in your relationships and daily life, you may benefit from speaking to a therapist. Many people turn to online therapy providers like BetterHelp for their convenience and lower cost. Virtual therapy platforms offer appointments via live chat, phone, or video calling, so you may find that therapy can fit conveniently into your schedule anytime you have an internet connection. 

recent study found that four weeks of online anger management therapy can effectively treat anger and aggression, reducing negative interactions between individuals and their loved ones. Researchers from the study stated that many people with anger issues feel ashamed of their behavior. They suggested that the internet format was appealing because users didn’t have to sit in a waiting room for a face-to-face appointment. 


Anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at times, but uncontrolled anger can have adverse effects on multiple aspects of life, including long-term effects on relationships with friends and family members. However, help is available, and you’re not alone if you experience difficulty controlling your anger. 

If you’re interested in therapy as a form of anger treatment but don’t feel comfortable with traditional in-office therapy, you might consider online therapy. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a mental health professional who has experience helping people control anger and move forward with confidence. People often find therapy helps with identifying triggers and treating anger problems, even if they’ve experienced anger for many years. Take the first step toward getting help with anger and contact BetterHelp today.
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