Skip Navigation LinksHome > Therapy101 > Therapy Helps With... > Anger Management
Find a therapist

Anger Management – How to Deal with Your Anger

"Anger management" is an umbrella term used to describe the various therapies used to help individuals lessen and control their anger. Uncontrollable anger can cause many problems in a person’s life. Not only does it often lead to unsatisfying relationships and guilt, but can also create legal problems when a person expresses anger with violence.

Patients undergoing anger management counseling often receive numerous types of therapies to help them mitigate the damage that anger causes in their lives.

Relaxation Techniques

Therapists often use relaxation techniques to help individuals manage their anger. Most patients respond well to therapy that uses simple relaxation techniques such as visualization and deep breathing.

Deep breathing helps the individual separate himself or herself from the intensity of stimuli that cause anger. Taking a small break and allowing the body to enjoy the recuperative effects of deep breathing can help many people calm down so that they can respond to stressful situations without resorting to bursts of anger.

Visualizing relaxing environments also helps many people find a calm center within themselves. Guided meditation encourages the patients to learn effective visualization techniques.

Exercise programs like yoga and aerobics can also relieve stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings that add to anger.

Cognitive Restructuring

Therapists that conduct anger management seminars often focus on the way that certain cognates, or thoughts, add to anger. Cognitive behavior therapy tells us that behaviors are linked to thinking. Cognitive restructuring attempts to change the patient’s behavior by altering the way he or she thinks.

This doesn’t mean "brainwashing" the patient into passivity. Instead, the therapist will work with the client to identify cognates that distort reality or aggravate angry feelings. For instance, many people use defeating self-talk that makes them feel impotent and unsuccessful. These feelings can take the form of anger as a way for the person to gain some control over the situation.

Therapists identify words like "never" and "always" to help the client prevent distorting thought patterns by countering them with logical statements. Most of the time, these all-or-nothing words do not represent reality. An angry person using them during self-talk, though, will rarely see the distortion unless he or she has received therapy to combat them with logical thinking.

Communication Skills

Anger management can also provide patients with improved communication skills that allow them to express complicated feelings without resorting to violent words and actions. Anger management therapy teaches individuals how to pay more attention to the ways that they communicate with others. This helps them communicate their own feelings more effectively and understand other perspectives instead of making assumptions that may not be true.

Avoiding Triggers that Evoke Anger

Anger management therapies help individuals learn how to control their feelings more effectively, but it can also encourage them to avoid environments and situations that spark anger. For instance, if a patient often becomes uncontrollably angry when under the influence of alcohol, then the therapist can work with that person to recognize alcohol as a trigger that they can avoid in the future.