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Anger Management Counseling Therapy

© 2021 Richard Chandler, MA, LPC, Masters in Psychotherapy, Licensed Professional Counselor

I focus on online and telephone anger management therapy for Twin Cities, St.Cloud, adults throughout Minnesota. The work helps you prevent irritation and frustration from becoming outbursts of anger that embarrass you afterward, hurt others, and that distance you from loved ones.

Brooklyn Park, MN woman angrily yelling in her car

Do you notice yourself, or someone you love:

  • Becoming frequently upset?
  • Wishing to have more control and quit saying hurtful words or actions?
  • Despite doing your/their best to be calm, continuing to have outbursts?
  • Experiencing anger as a rapidly rising torrent of emotion?
  • Targeting hurtful words or actions at others before even realizing you’re/they’re angry?
  • Struggling to comprise without getting angry?
  • Becoming violent when consuming alcohol?

With my anger management counseling, I approach anger differently. I seek to understand your unique anger pattern, interrupt that pattern, and even replace your habit with a new way of responding tailored to you.

What Causes Anger Issues?

A variety of factors can trigger anger issues. The American Psychological Association says, “Anger is ‘an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,’ according to Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

Both external and internal events can cause anger. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.”

Stress, financial issues, and family issues are common issues that can create anger problems and underlying disorders.

Some of these disorders that can cause anger issues include:

Edina, MN man angrily smashing a computer

Genetics can also play a role in anger issues, especially if mental illnesses are involved. Learned behavior could be an even more significant factor if a child’s angry behavior was rewarded.

While aggression may be expressed outwardly through shouting, swearing, or becoming physically violent or threatening, it can also lead to inward aggression of isolation or self-harm.

A man making fists on the table in an anger management therapy session in Elk RIver, MN

You can handle your anger in three different ways, including expression, suppression, and calming down. The Mayo Clinic defines these as:

  1. Expression is “the act of conveying your anger.” Expressions of anger could include minor irritation to explosive outbursts. The ideal expression of anger is through being assertive and not being aggressive or demanding.
  2. Suppression is attempting to hold in your anger and later converting or redirecting it. Ideally, anger is held in and then converted into constructive behavior. However, the anger may be redirected towards yourself or others in passive-aggressive, critical, and judgmental behaviors. Turning anger inward can cause hypertension, depression, and even high blood pressure.
  3. Calming down lets your feelings subside to allow all of you to calm down, both internally and externally.

Tips to Calm Your Anger

If you are working towards controlling your anger, here are a few tips you can practice putting in action the next time you are struggling.

  1. Take a timeout. Taking time to think before you speak can help you avoid saying things you later regret, as well as regroup to figure out how to express your frustrations constructively. This doesn’t mean you’re avoiding difficult subjects. It is just a way for you to manage your anger and allow you to rejoin and discuss when you’re feeling calmer.
  2. Use “I” statements to describe problems. Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements helps avoid blaming and increasing already high tensions in the room.
  3. Get some exercise. Going for a run or hitting the gym can help alleviate extra tension and release’ feel-good’ chemicals in your brain.
  4. Talk to a friend. Use this strategy carefully. Expressing feelings to someone often has a calming effect, but venting too much can sometimes fuel the fire instead of putting it out. Make sure to stay solution-focused when talking to a friend, or it may even be beneficial to talk about something other than the frustrating situation you’re going through.
  5. Use relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, writing in a journal, using imagery, practicing muscle relaxation, or listening to music can all help lower your blood pressure and put you in a more relaxed mood.
  6. Forgive! Holding a grudge hurts you the most. It doesn’t let you release the feelings of frustration, injustice, or bitterness. Still, suppose you let it go (which does not by any means mean to excuse the behavior). In that case, it allows you the opportunity to learn from the situation and even strengthen relationships.
  7. Learn your triggers & change your environment. By understanding your triggers, you can learn how to avoid them or make changes to adjust, so they affect you less. For example, if driving during rush hour always frustrates you, you can try adjusting your schedule to drive during a less busy time or even take the bus.
  8. Reset the way you think. Cognitive restructuring is a technique where you practice changing the way you think. The American Psychological Association says, “When you’re angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones.” Doing so involves avoiding words like “never” and “always,” using logic to diffuse anger, and translating expectations into desires.“ For instance, instead of telling yourself, ‘oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,’ tell yourself, ‘it’s frustrating, and, understandably, I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow.’”
  9. Focus on problem-solving. Making a plan on how to confront a situation can give you a sense of relief that progress is being made on the issue, increasing your patience in many cases where you previously became angry.
  10. Use ‘silly’ humor. Humor generates a more balanced perspective and defuses rage. For example, if you want to call someone a name, picture what they literally would look like if they were what you called them. The APA gives an example of this when they say, “If you’re at work and you think of a coworker as a “dirtbag” or a “single-cell life form,” for example, picture a large bag full of dirt (or an amoeba) sitting at your colleague’s desk, talking on the phone, going to meetings.”

 

Tailoring To Your Unique Anger Pattern With Anger Therapy Vs. Anger Management Classes

There are a few factors to consider if you are debating between anger management classes and seeing a therapist for anger:

There are both advantages and disadvantages to each. Anger management classes are aimed to teach people skills to regulate their emotions and calm down. They can be taken by anyone who desires to handle their anger better. Sometimes they are court-ordered or used in residential settings for those with traumatic brain injuries.

According to Very Well Mind, “Many anger management classes are conducted as educational classes rather than group therapy. Usually, a trained instructor walks participants through a series of anger management strategies. Then, armed with new strategies, participants can work to diminish their aggressive behavior and reduce the anger in their daily lives.”

Most anger management class curricula utilize a cognitive-behavioral therapy model, which teaches participants how to recognize signs that their anger is rising and relaxation strategies and calming techniques.

Very Well Mind says classes range from “eight sessions to 28 sessions. Classes usually take place on a weekly basis and they are usually one to two hours in length.”

Man angrily yelling in Minnetonka, MN

People attending these classes may also need individual therapy as anger management classes do not always solve everything. Processes that commonly are part of anger management classes can fail to get to the heart of what tics you off and what happens internally with you before responding by becoming mad.

Individual therapy processes work because they aren’t generic and are based uniquely on you. Benefits to individual therapy include receiving personal attention, guarantees of privacy, and more flexibility in scheduling. However, anger therapy does cost more and doesn’t give the added benefits of learning from others in a group setting.

7 Steps To Interrupt Your Anger Pattern

My counseling process is to identify the unique ways you escalate from mild irritation to full-blown anger. Together, we map out your unique anger pattern into identifiable and body responses combined with a series of thoughts. Once we identify and map out those escalating steps, you can begin to recognize when you are in an escalating anger pattern. Doing so allows you to interrupt your pattern of anger.

Here is the process that I use to discover and change your unique anger process:

Elk River, MN woman angrily yelling and pointing at her phone
  1. We simulate several situations where you became angry in the past.
  2. We map out what happens inside you, including all of your usual thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
  3. We identify and test out several potentially successful ways for you to interrupt your pattern.
  4. Together we choose your best interruption patterns.
  5. You practice the interruption patterns both within the counseling sessions and in your actual life.
  6. We also map out a success pattern for anger management that works for you. Together, we create a tailored personal process for handling frustration and irritation without becoming mad.
  7. You also practice using your new process of managing anger within your sessions, especially at work and home, leading to more harmonious relationships with your mate, loved ones, and coworkers.

Why does this process work? Because it is based uniquely on you. It is not generic. Methods common to anger management classes can fail to get to the heart of what tics you off and what happens internally with you before responding.

My Central MN and Twin Cities counseling clients have reported success by using this 7-step anger management therapy process. This process works for women as well as when counseling men. Please contact me for a no-cost consultation to discuss whether anger therapy may be of help for you.