Anger management for individuals and couples
Text © 2019 Jim Holloway
Anger management counselling is beneficial for many people who know they have a problem with their expression of anger and are ready for help to make a real change. Making this significant personal change usually involves a rewarding process of self-exploration and is therefore uniquely different for each individual.
Anger management counselling: the essentials (PDF)
For many years I’ve enjoyed specialising in helping adults (mostly men) who want to stop expressing their anger in a harmful or damaging way. This usually occurs within intimate relationships, which is why I offer anger management sessions to couples/pairs as well as individuals. I also see people whose angry behaviour is problematic in the workplace or while driving or playing sports.
1 : Anger is a healthy, useful emotion that some people sometimes use in unhealthy or useless ways.
Except in cases where there is a pattern of domestic violence or abuse, it is your responsibility to judge how useful or useless your anger is, for yourself and the people around you.
2 : To manage being angry well is to use anger wisely.
Explosions of anger are frightening and can cause harm, but this does not mean anger is inevitably unsafe or destructive. With a combination of insight and practice, you can transform the natural power of angry feelings into positive protest which is both courageous and respectful.
3 : Anger does not come 'out of the blue'.
You might not be conscious of it, but your angering always has a social (relational) purpose — as an emotional process it has its own ‘private logic’. Problematic anger might mean your subconscious goal is based on a long-held mistaken belief or habitual misperception. Using the tools of psychological counselling to explore your subjective assumptions is a key part of effective anger management.
4 : You need to know where your anger is trying to take you.
The emotion of anger is a movement — an ‘action statement’ about how you’re processing a particular situation, whether past or present. Whenever you feel the raw energy of a strong emotional arousal like anger you are also generating vital information about your ‘relational rules’ — your unique set of beliefs about what is right and wrong in your world, and what is or isn’t negotiable. In this sense, your anger is a knowledgeable guide.
5 : Anger management is practical not magical.
By acting daily on your personal commitment to anger management counselling, you’re very likely to feel immediate and lasting benefits. The practice involves: (1) learning about the basic psychology of anger, (2) increasing your somatic and sensory awareness, and (3) using cognitive and behavioural therapeutic techniques. All of this is aimed at creating good new habits for your mind and body. It's not always easy but there is no mystery to this process: by learning how to give yourself the right help at the right time, you can control your anger.