Learning to express our anger in healthy, productive ways is a challenge, a new paradigm, and a new way to view these emotions that can easily be destructive. Anger management counseling is often the tool that helps individuals and couples achieve the changes that are necessary in order to live more peacefully and have fulfilling relationships.
It would be naïve to think that we can go through life without anger. We all experience anger at one time or another and even the most easy going person will experience moments of anger, when negative feelings build and threaten to explode all over the people he loves the most. One counselor equals these angry explosions to “emotionally vomiting” all over the people around them. It is nasty and leaves other offended, often ruining relationships and creating chaos.
Anger often runs in cycles, building from small incident upon small incident, kept in check but still growing, until the limit is reached and it all comes boiling out. Hurtful comments are made, and physical aggression is sometimes the outcome. Whether there is physical damage or not, anger almost always leaves a trail of pain and resentment. The next step are the apologies, the forgiveness (thank God for that) and the calm after the storm.
This cycle repeats itself over and over, leaving its participants exhausted and wishing for a better way to deal with life’s hurts. Fortunately, counselors are trained to help individuals through anger management counseling, so that relationships can be rebuilt and future hurts can be avoided.
Anger Management Counseling involves several steps:
First, a behavioral plan of action must be created, finding alternative outlets to yelling offenses or physically harming others. Examples could be going for a walk or engaging in other forms of exercise, listening to music, calling a supportive friend to “vent”, writing feelings down, escaping into a movie or comedy, or simply spending time alone to think through the anger and discover those underlying emotions.
Second, we must recognize anger as a secondary emotion, the destructive one that covers the underlying emotions of fear or hurt, or both. It helps to “dissect” the anger and uncover the emotions underneath the anger. These “primary” emotions are valid and can be expressed in constructive ways.
Third, those underlying emotions can be communicated to those who need to know how we feel. If needed, a third party such as a counselor or trusted friend can be present to help facilitate the sharing of deep feelings.
Fourth, the discovery of mistaken beliefs can be helpful in uncovering the reason for frequent angry episodes. Many individuals who struggle with anger discover that some of their basic life beliefs are off base and are the cause for much of their anger, such as “People should do things the right way (my way)”, or “I have to get my way”, or “life has to be fair”. Once those mistaken beliefs are uncovered, they can be replaced with true statements that are based in reality instead of “shoulds”.
Anger management counseling has the potential to greatly benefit those who desire to overhaul the way they think, what they believe, and how they express themselves. It really works!
Deborah (Debbie) Pinkston, Ph.D.