We all feel angry at times – it's part of being human. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, which we might experience if we feel: attacked, deceived, frustrated, invalidated or unfairly treated. It isn't necessarily a 'bad' emotion, in fact, it can sometimes be useful.
Most people will experience episodes of anger which feel manageable and don't have a big impact on their lives. Learning healthy ways to recognise, express and deal with anger is important for our mental and physical health.
Mind Website 2018
Anger is a common emotion experienced by us all and I believe that if used constructively, it can be a positive and empowering emotion. Anger can be described as an impulse behaviour which is used to protect, defend or attack in response to a threat or challenge.
Anger can be problematic only when experienced with such a frequency or intensity that it affects your everyday life. For example, if it affects your relationship with others, or prevents you from achieving your goals or affects your physical and/or mental health.
Problematic anger is associated with poor impulse control and is commonly evidenced in domestic violence or other forms of criminal behaviour.
Anger, like other emotions, are influenced by our thoughts and values. Angry responses commonly involve thinking errors such as personalising or catastrophizing. For example, “He did that on purpose to upset me.”
A common anger inducing beliefs is that life should be fair and if it is not then we are entitled to take revenge for a perceived injustice.
During your assessment we would look at your understandings of your anger and what you believe is triggering these responses. No treatment intervention for anger will work unless you are able to recognise that it is a problem and that it is yourproblem.
The causes of anger are due to both internal and external factors. Internal factors can often be traced back to childhood experiences. These can include a family history of violence or aggression, bullying, abuse or neglect. Your feelings in the here and now of your own self-worth, your self-esteem, your ability to cope, your communication skills and your core beliefs, values and goals can all be causes of your anger.
We will look at the external factors that triggers your anger and we will need to identify what is influencing you and how we can control it.
The aim of anger therapy is one of control, not suppression. The approach we choose will be dependant upon you and how you will best respond. There are many different approaches to this subject and we can be as eclectic as you want.
Examples are: enhancing your understanding of your anger, challenging your experiences, gaining your ownership and viewing other perspectives, examining personal values and beliefs, preparing yourself for the future, acquiring skills, anticipating your triggers, reducing your physical responses, challenging your thoughts, modifying your beliefs, changing your behaviours, increasing your knowledge of the consequences of your behaviour, rehearsing your behaviour, relapse prevention planning, develop your self-esteem, improve your communication skills, develop personal anger awareness ……..the list could go on and on but I think this gives you a flavour of what psychotherapy can offer.
I want to end by saying that anger often masks other feelings and emotions. Often, we can find great sadness and loneliness underneath our anger. Unfortunately, many of us believe that to share those feelings will leave us feeling vulnerable, especially if we believe we may be rejected. The result is that we stay angry as we think we are safer. Our work together is to be curious about what is really going on underneath the anger and look at changing those issues.