Counselling for anger management issues
Your search for anger management counselling or help may well feel like a last resort. Perhaps you’ve lost your rag one too many times, and you – or people around you – have become concerned about your behaviour.
Maybe you’ve even been accused of being abusive. In which case you may also be interested in my article Signs of an abusive relationship. Perhaps your partner has threatened to leave you if you don’t ‘sort yourself out’. Or maybe you’re about to lose your job.
For starters, I’ve developed the following anger test to help you discover the extent of the problem – if you’re not already fully aware…
Symptoms of anger issues
On completion of this anger management quiz you’ll see your results immediately below the button.
Why you're doing the right thing!
I’m really pleased that you’ve plucked up the courage to look for help. And I hope this article will help you start taking action to combat your anger issues.
Because whilst anger is ‘just’ a feeling, it can lead to aggression and potentially physical violence. And I’m sure you don’t want to cause harm to yourself or those around you! When you’re in the grip of rage it can be really hard to think straight. And when you’re not thinking straight, it’s all too easy to do things that you’ll regret when you’ve calmed down again.
But help is at hand: anger management counselling can be a really effective way to overcome all sorts of anger issues.
I'm a qualified counsellor with 24 years’ experience in the fields of mental health and relationship therapy. During that time, I’ve helped soooo many people overcome their anger issues. And I hope to be able to help you now too.
With this article, I’m aiming to give you the confidence to seek out and access anger management counselling as soon as possible. You don’t have to be held hostage by your own emotional turmoil any longer.
Let me start by reassuring you:
Anger in itself…
- is neither bad or good;
- is an inborn emotion that helps to protect us;
- is a symptom of distress and unmet emotional needs;
- is a feeling which you do have the power to regulate;
- also speaks of passion;
- can be put to good use at appropriate times and the right level.
Judgemental versus non-judgemental anger management help
Chances are you've heard any or all of these before:
- “Don’t get so upset - it’s not worth it.”
- “Calm down - you’re overreacting.”
- “Why don’t you sort yourself out?”
- “You’ve got a problem.”
- “You need help.”
Perhaps you’ve been told by your boss, partner or someone else to have anger management counselling.
Maybe you’ve felt like you’re going mad, or you’re off your rocker, or that something’s just not right in your head.
None of the above is particularly helpful, I’m sure you’ll agree! So, you’ll be glad to know that it’s not what you’ll be confronted with when you do reach out for anger management help.
Be assured that you and your counsellor can work together. They won't judge you at all, ever. And with the help of a qualified therapist, you can achieve great things - if you choose to do so.
5 Vital ways an anger management counsellor can help you
Here's what a professional counsellor or therapist (don't worry about the difference) can do for you:
- Really importantly, they’ll give you the chance to offload your worries and get things out of your head in your own time.
- They’ll teach you some really effective tools to help you calm yourself down quickly.
- They’ll help you discover and deal with the underlying cause(s) of your anger.
- They’ll help you learn how to deal with your particular situation and challenges in life.
- They’ll teach you easy ways to protect your emotional health (including anger management skills) in the future.
Let’s look at these in a little more detail before we move onto why professional anger management help can be so effective.
1. GETTING THINGS OFF YOUR CHEST
Living life can be hard… and often in stark contrast to how happy, fun and easy it all seems in films and friends’ social media feeds!
Perhaps you've found yourself wondering how other people appear to sail through life while you’re faced with challenges and difficulties at every turn. Life has a sneaky way of throwing troubles at us all in one go. No wonder we often find ourselves reeling at the personal impact of it all! You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t either floor or madden you when you find yourself struggling to cope. (Oh, don’t forget - all is rarely as happy-go-lucky and ‘perfect’ as it seems in the carefully chosen social media updates of your friends and family!)
So, the chance to simply talk and get your worries off your chest can really have a hugely positive impact. And even better, a counsellor is impartial and non-judgemental, so you can speak freely and honestly. I promise you, you won’t be able to shock, embarrass or upset them! Talking things through can really help to lower your stress levels. And reduced stress levels means less risk of losing control of your temper.
2. EFFECTIVE ANGER MANAGEMENT TIPS AND SKILLS
A professional counsellor will be able to teach you some really helpful anger management tips right away. That way, you'll immediately feel more empowered and less frightened that 'something bad' might happen. There's no better way to learn new tools than to have an expert teach you at your own pace. Also, anything they teach you will be specific to your situation, your needs, your characteristics and your particular anger issues.
Once you start learning how to calm yourself when you’re losing (or have lost) your temper, it’ll be time to move onto the next step. And it’s one that has the potential to give you an enormous sense of relief once you’ve addressed it...
3. UNDERSTANDING WHAT CAUSES YOUR ANGER
It’s all very well being able to regain control when you’re experiencing the red mist, but it’s my belief that you shouldn't really have to 'manage' such a high level of emotion at any time. Instead, discovering and fixing the underlying cause(s) of this elevated emotion will give you greater control in the long term. That’s because, ideally, it’ll help you learn how you can prevent your over-the-top anger and react more appropriately in any situation.
There is a multitude of potential causes for your anger issues. So, your counsellor will walk beside you for a while, as it were, to get to grips with what causes you to constantly seethe or blow up.
Knowing and understanding why you get frustrated or why your mood changes so rapidly creates a direct road to the solution. Once you know what the problem is, you can take steps to fix it. And this is a far more effective way of dealing with anger management problems than just learning how to control the anger itself.
You might even discover that there’s not actually a real need for you to get so miffed at all. Here are some issues that may potentially contribute to an anger problem:
- Depression and anxiety
- PTSD symptoms
- Childhood adversity
- Psychological trauma
- Toxic shame
- Work-related problems
- Relationship problems
- Unmet or unbalanced essential emotional needs
- Damage to relationships caused by your temper
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (see further down)
- ... and so on (I realise that I may not have mentioned your particular problem - but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count!)
From my professional experience, I know there's every likelihood that your anger will turn into something more positive when you've dealt with some of that tricky underlying stuff. And your counsellor can help you with that part too...
4. DEALING WITH YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION AND CHALLENGES IN LIFE
Once you’ve discovered the underlying cause(s) of your anger issues, your counsellor will help you figure out how to overcome your problems. And it won’t be generic advice: it’ll be specific to your personal needs. A professional counsellor or therapist is uniquely trained to do that with your wishes in mind.
5. LEARNING WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH IN THE FUTURE AND HELPING YOU TO MOVE ON
Feelings are messy!
Maybe you've never learnt how to handle them. It's not an easy thing to do - and I say that from both personal and professional experience.
Perhaps you've dealt with feelings (anger or otherwise) by binge-eating, drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
Maybe you've been pretending you don't care or that you don't need other people. Sometimes you might just bury your head in the sand. Or perhaps you deliberately take risks with your life and possibly even feel suicidal at times.
Your counsellor knows about and understands all these strategies that so many people use to try and cope with life.
But, most importantly, he or she can help you to develop new and more effective coping mechanisms. These skills will help you deal with the messiness of life and feelings in positive and constructive ways.
Getting to and dealing with the root cause of your distress together with developing new coping skills will help to make you more resilient. And when you’re more resilient, you’re better able to protect and improve your emotional health in the long term.
Does anger management help?
Absolutely! Just have a look at this article in the Guardian. But, notice that anger management counselling is most effective when it manages the outbursts and deals with the underlying causes.
There's much to be gained from having a professional, who's totally unconnected with your situation, by your side. In fact, there are more benefits than I can list here (otherwise you’d be reading this article into next week!) But it does depend on your willingness to commit to it, as well as the quality of the professional relationship you have with your counsellor.
(Take a look at my article on finding the right counsellor for you - it won’t necessarily always work out with the first therapist you meet.)
Anger management counselling really does help!
How counselling or therapy can help you improve your life and well-being
Still not sold on the idea of anger management counselling? Maybe this will help…
15 WAYS A COUNSELLOR CAN HELP YOU DEAL WITH YOUR ANGER ISSUES
A professional counsellor:
- focuses their attention on you and your particular difficulties. Together, you become a team of two, working to overcome your issues in a safe space;
- won't judge you;
- will help you to make sense of all your tumultuous feelings, leading to a sense of ease and calm;
- will answer all your questions and help to relieve your doubts and fears, leaving space in your head for more enjoyable things;
- can help to repair, improve and make the best use of your natural resources - living life becomes just that bit easier;
- works hard to see and understand things from your perspective and has your best interests at heart;
- knows and understands how much you too may have been hurt, not only by other people's behaviour but also your own;
- can help you to figure out how to make amends and repair relationships if they've been damaged by your temper problem;
- helps you see things from a new, more useful, perspective, which means you'll become more resourceful and less quick to anger;
- helps you to deal more effectively with life events and other situations you have no control over. That makes living with uncertainty a little easier and guess what that leads to? A calmer state of mind;
- helps you to overcome any trauma you may have suffered, after which you’ll gain a sense of peace and closure;
- helps you get a better insight into any relationship problems, which gives you more options for tackling the inevitable challenges that arise;
- helps you to understand your partner more, so you'll be better able to see their point of view and remain calm when the two of you are at loggerheads;
- teaches you strategies to deal with any conflict - one of the best anger management tools you can have in your toolkit;
- loves helping people to improve their emotional health and life - yours too!
Where do you go for that kind of help?
I don't want to beat about the bush here. Unfortunately, there are very few services that offer free counselling.
However, there may be ways that you can access anger management help with little or no cost. Much depends on your circumstances and where in the world you live.
To learn how to find the right person in your own surroundings - professional or not - see my article on getting good relationship advice.
To give you a head start, I've developed an anger management worksheet to help you uncover the potential cause of your anger. It's free to download.
Online anger management counselling
Better Help quickly and easily connects you with professional, licensed counsellors online (but please note: it is a paid service). And it’s not a random process: they’ll match your specific needs to the most appropriate professional on their team. Online counselling is a really smart solution if you find it hard - for whatever reason - to access in-person counselling.
To discover how it works, take a look at my page on mental health counselling. (And NO, mental health counselling does not mean you're 'mental'. It should really be called emotional health counselling!)
ONE LAST THING
If you've ever had a severe blow to the head, it may be worth talking to your doctor about getting a scan.
Just in case you've sustained a traumatic brain injury (external link).
Last, but not least...
Have you ever played contact sports, or are you playing a contact sport now? If so, I'd like you to read my article on CTE and your relationship. As your anger may well be due to repeated (minor) head injuries.
Deciding to seek out anger management counselling or help is a really positive and important first step. I commend you for taking it. And I know you can overcome the difficulties you’re having right now.
Also, I’d like you to know that wherever you decide to go for help - professional or not - it's really important you trust the person you talk to. You’ll be investing your time, energy and maybe money in this process. So, if you're not happy, please don't give up at the first hurdle! You can find or ask to speak to someone else.
Once you’ve managed to make a positive connection, you can get stuck in. Then, from a position of safety, trust and understanding, you can start working towards a calmer, more rational you.