Anger management therapy techniques to control rage

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated February 14, 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.

However, anger can also be a powerful emotion with the potential to affect anyone, regardless of their personality. When anger escalates or persists, it can impact an individual’s relationships, career, and physical and mental health. Unmanaged anger can have several causes. For example, some people may feel angry after misplacing the television remote, missing a deadline at work, or discovering damage to their property. At times, anger can be a secondary emotion to other emotions like fear or disgust. 

This guide examines anger management counseling and how licensed therapists can benefit those living with overwhelming anger, hostility, or rage. You can also learn anger management techniques designed to control and cope with distress. 

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Anger can get out of control fast – don’t let it

What is anger management counseling?

Anger management counseling is designed to equip clients with the skills to cope with anger and accompanying urges or behaviors.

Talking with a trained psychologist may help you determine if you would benefit from ongoing anger management therapy. In addition, a mental health professional may help you safely explore events causing you to feel anger, as well as anger management techniques to help manage these feelings. One of the benefits of anger management counseling is that you may feel better after each session. 

There are many forms of anger management therapy, including cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy, which have been recognized as effective methods for understanding anger and its roots. Through these forms of care, many people find that there are mental health conditions serving as the psychological roots of anger. For example, people with certain personality disorders are at increased risk of experiencing intense rage, which can lead to violent behavior in some cases. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—which combines the two modalities—is another widely used modality for those experiencing problematic anger and symptoms of other mental health conditions. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on reframing negative thought patterns. For example, a mental healthcare provider might help their client realize that they engage in all-or-nothing thinking—a cognitive distortion that can lead to anger issues. Through cognitive restructuring, they can help the client replace these thoughts with more rational, positive beliefs. CBT is considered a highly efficacious modality when it comes to anger reduction. Research suggests that this form of anger management therapy works to alleviate anger episodes in approximately 76% of participants.

You might also try one-on-one sessions or group anger management classes, online or in person. Talk to a therapist and research your options to choose the most suitable type of therapist for you. 

Who can benefit from anger management counseling?

Anger is a normal human emotion, and at times it can even be a healthy emotion. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anger as "an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone, or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong" and notes that anger can have positive effects, like promoting healthy emotional expression and problem-solving. 

However, anger may not offer benefits when it's intense or long-lasting and interferes with your daily life, health, or relationships. If any of the following experiences apply to you, you might choose to consider anger management counseling:

  • You get angry quickly or for reasons you later realize were insignificant.
  • Your angry feelings negatively affect your relationships.
  • Those around you have raised concerns about the frequency or level of your expressions of anger or call you an “angry person”
  • You have tried to manage anger with substance use. 
  • You live with a mental health condition that contributes to anger. 
  • You are experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, feeling your blood pressure rocket when you feel angry, a lowered immune response, or tightness in your chest.
  • You are experiencing emotional symptoms like irritability, stress, depression, anxiety, or feelings of guilt.
  • You catch yourself contemplating ways to act on an old grudge or "get back" at someone. 
  • You have experienced uncontrolled anger to the point that you have shown aggressive behavior or violence toward someone else.

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support. You can also find more mental health resources through SAMHSA’s website, such as their helpful report titled “Coping With Anger”. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), roughly 75% of individuals receiving anger management therapy have found improvements. In addition, online therapy may be a suitable choice for those facing anger challenges. An internet-based format might be ideal for those who don't want to fight traffic or be on a waitlist for sessions. 

Several studies suggest that online treatment may effectively reduce overwhelming anger in adults. Online sessions can also help individuals learn new cognitive skills for managing their anger while giving them a safe, unbiased environment to discuss their negative feelings and intense emotions. 

Benefits of anger management skills

The techniques you learn in anger management counseling have the potential to affect many areas of your life. In addition, anger management techniques might offer several positive effects, such as:

  • Helping you become more aware of what prompts your anger and how you react to those events
  • Equipping you with coping strategies to use when you feel anger escalating
  • Developing your self-control so you can delay your anger and use the coping mechanisms you've learned for expressing anger in a healthy way
  • Improving your overall physical and emotional health
  • Helping you rebuild current relationships and form healthy relationships in the future

Healthy anger expression can be a learned skill. In anger management counseling, you can learn emotional control, self-care, relaxation techniques, and other coping skills. A few standard techniques may include breathing exercises and imagery (visualizing a relaxing scene).

When you experience intense anger or rage, your mind might become clouded with thoughts and urges you struggle to control. Anger management counseling can redirect you toward realistic and optimistic channels of thought. You may also realize that the situations that bring about your anger can be responded to in new ways. 

Communication is emphasized in many anger management therapies. Individuals with anger management concerns sometimes turn to damaging means of self-expression when they struggle to talk about what's troubling them. For this reason, therapy sessions often include practice for open communication about underlying emotions and causes of anger. You may practice skills like mindfulness, which can help you better identify your feelings so that you can express them in a healthy way. Developing communication skills can be key to overcoming not only an anger disorder but also other mental health issues.

Below are a few strategies to control anger that you might learn through anger management counseling:

  • Physical Activity: Expressing and using angry energy by running, dancing, taking a brisk walk, or other enjoyable physical activities.
  • Releasing Tension: Whether through crying or journaling your angry thoughts, you can learn to work through an emotional state and express anger or aggression in ways that don't cause harm.
  • Expressing Yourself: You might try channeling your anger into creating a work of art. An artistic outlet for your emotions can be a comforting, quieting release and may promote positive feelings as well.
  • Finding A Listening Ear: Someone willing to listen non-judgmentally, like a trusted loved one or a licensed therapist, may help you talk through your emotions.
  • Leaning On Your Support System: Reaching out for help can be challenging. However, loved ones may help you feel supported and loved with your challenges.
  • Writing It Down: If you feel uncomfortable speaking directly to someone, journalling might help. You can document any experiences of anger or rage on paper, as well as the lessons you've learned in therapy for controlling anger. 
  • Considering Your Words: Learning to be precise with your words may help you clarify the path to a constructive solution. If you often use absolute terms like "always" or "never," you can learn to use specific, neutral terms.
  • Meditating: Certain meditation or mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing exercises may allow you to step away from your anger and center your focus on improved ways to respond. When you regularly practice relaxation skills like deep breathing exercises or meditation, they may also help to reduce stress or high blood pressure.
  • Letting Go: Anger might persist after an inciting incident has stopped. Understanding anger and letting it go might free you of these feelings, allowing you to focus on positive areas.
  • Avoidance: If possible, you may find it helpful to avoid situations and individuals that cause anger or rage.

Anger can get out of control fast – don’t let it

Addressing anger management issues with online therapy

Whether you're experiencing frequent bouts of rage, simmering in your own bitterness over past events, or both, you're not alone; anger can be a natural and healthy emotion at times. However, uncontrolled anger can be both frustrating and debilitating. If your angry responses lead to aggressive behavior or other negative feelings that impact your mental health or relationships, you may benefit from seeking help via in-person or online anger management therapy. A trained mental health professional can help you recognize the sources of anger and develop coping skills for addressing it. 

Through online therapy, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with a licensed therapist precisely matched to your needs. In addition, recent studies have found that internet-based interventions are as effective as in-person therapy in treating anger and aggression.

If you're interested in counseling online, for anger management, you can try a therapy platform like BetterHelp. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp have the education and experience in treating anger management issues, and there are over 30,000 therapists available to offer support. The BetterHelp site also offers other helpful mental health resources, such as an up-to-date blog on various mental health topics and therapeutic techniques like behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy.

Takeaway

Managing anger and associated health issues can be challenging. However, you're not alone in your experiences. Reaching out for help may allow you to connect with others in a healthy way while learning unique anger management skills personalized to your symptoms or needs. Consider reaching out to a licensed therapist for further guidance and support. 

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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