What’s your relationship with your anger? Is it allowed free expression as part of being a healthy human being with emotions? Is it suppressed and not allowed out? Or is it explosive and destructive whenever it’s let loose?
Whatever your position on anger, learning to manage it can be a challenge if it gets out of control, or if you’re finding that anger is your go-to emotion in times of stress or frustration.
If anger is becoming an issue for you, counselling can support you in helping you manage it
Here, two of our therapists in the low-cost counselling service at our Tooting centre, Anne-Marie Scott and Jennifer Bone outline how they work with anger…
If you bring anger to therapy as one of your presenting issues, I allow your anger to come into the room only when you’re ready. Anne-Marie Scott
In your own time, when the trust has built up between us and you’re ready to talk about your anger, we can explore where your anger is coming from. Does it have its roots in a traumatic experience from childhood? Or is your anger manifesting more recently in your adult life? We can explore those roots without criticising or judging or denying your experiences.
I won’t interrupt your flow, either. It’s important for anger to have true expression. You may need to be prepared for the raw emotion of years and years of tears, anger and resentment that may gush out. You may have been holding back from expressing your anger because it wasn’t acceptable in your family or origin. But in the therapy room your anger has permission to be present.
I’m not saying this is an easy process.You may even get angry at me for allowing your anger out, and for me witnessing it, and for perhaps having a glimpse into the causes of it. But that’s all OK. I know you’re angry at what happened to you, and I will hold that therapeutic space so you can explore what other emotions might be sitting behind your anger.
I aim to build up a sense of safety so that your anger can come out. Even if it manifests in physical symptoms such as anxiety or panic we can work with breathing exercises to make sure you’re calm again before leaving your session. Anne-Marie Scott
In society, and among some cultures, feeling angry can be a taboo. Counselling can be a space where angry feelings can be acknowledged as a normal, functional part of the spectrum of human emotion. Jennifer Bone
In my work, I acknowledge that origins of angry feelings and responses in a client are individualised, and can be psychological, cognitive, or emotionally based. Thus, the therapeutic work must be individualised accordingly.
I aim to create an accepting environment where, if you’re used to repressing angry feelings, can feel more able to voice these feelings, in the knowledge that they won’t be judged. You may internalise your anger, and your anger may be subconscious. However, becoming aware that you have angry feelings can feel empowering.
If you’re struggling with aggressive behaviours or angry outbursts, and anger management has become maladaptive in your behaviour, CBT can help you learn to recognise triggers, and to plan alternative ways of dealing with anger.
Recognising the root of anger, and its relationship to other emotions, can be useful for your self-awareness. Anger is often a response to fearful feelings, sometimes originating in the past. Perhaps anger has become a coping mechanism. Processing and exploring fear can help to get to the root of angry feelings.
Often anger is a response to needs which haven’t been met. It may be, paradoxically, that you have issues with assertiveness, or expressing your needs to others in your relationships, leading to eventual frustration, and aggressive behaviours which can affect those relationships. Working on assertiveness in therapy can help your relate to others in a more productive and appropriate way, ultimately helping to have your needs met. Jennifer Bone
If you’re thinking of seeing a therapist to help you with anger management get in touch by calling 020 8673 4545 or emailing [email protected] At our Tooting centre we are offering sessions at £10 per session if you’re on benefits, and £25 per session if you’re on a low income. This offer is available until the end of 2018.