Groundwork Counselling Services

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Anger Management Counselling

It is normal for everyone to get angry sometimes. Anger is a complex healthy emotion that urges us to take action. This energizing emotion motivates us to solve problems, advocate, and connect to our values. The experience of anger can range from mild frustration to violent outbursts. How you experience and express your anger may be influenced by many factors, like gender, culture or religion.

Anger is not a “bad” feeling. Like other emotions it is trying to care for and guide us towards healthy choices/living. But sometimes people may not know how to manage their anger and it can become all consuming. That is when anger management counselling can be helpful to understand, refocus and recalibrate the emotion. Dealing with anger isn’t easy and controlling it takes practice. It’s a life skill that everybody needs to learn and it’s an ongoing process, because there’ll always be something to get angry about!

Some common causes of anger

  • Daily hassles are annoying and can trigger anger. The more irritations the more potential for anger building.
  • Anger is a normal and an expected reaction to verbal, physical or sexual abuse.
  • Being treated unfairly can also trigger anger.
  • How you evaluate a situation will influence your emotions. Often, people become angry because they take other people's behaviour personally.
  • Expectations about how things ought to be can also lead to anger if things don't work out as planned.
  • Angry/negative self-talk may make angry feelings more intense and last longer.
  • Thoughts that are ruminative and rigid often escalate emotions.
  • It's much easier to become angry when you already feel drained or stressed out.

Do you have a lot of anger? Ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you often feel angry or close to losing it?
  • Does your anger get overwhelming and out of control?- a hint is whether your flight-flight- freeze response kicks in and makes it difficult to not act impulsively
  • How long does your anger last?
  • Does your anger lead to aggression? Verbal or physical violence directed at yourself or others?
  • Have you damaged relationships or opportunities because of your anger?
  • Do you stuff your emotions and needs to avoid getting angry?
  • Do you often blame others for your life or situation?
  • Do you have any health issues as a result of your anger? Examples may include increased substance use, compromised immune system, digestive issues, teeth grinding, elevated blood pressure ?

Here are some anger management tips to try on your own:

  1. Let go- holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Work on forgiveness and letting go of toxic bitterness
  2. When calm, express your anger and associated emotions- Being assertive and honest about how your feeling is important to your mental health. Feeling heard and validated are possible outcomes if you can keep your cool.
  3. Get some exercise- Anger is an energizing emotion. Use exercise proactively to minimize anger buildup, or relieve it.
  4. Timeout- Remove yourself and take a respectful break when you are feeling stressed.
  5. Pause before you speak- when we get angry our flight-fight-freeze response can get activated. Take a few breaths, slow down and allow your brain to come back online.
  6. Use your “I” statements. Being respectful and specific about your experience reduces others feeling blamed or attacked.
  7. Use relaxation skills regularly- A few mins a day of practice can help you take your power back when the flight-fight-freeze response wants to activate.
  8. Use humor to release tension- “Lighten up” playfully make fun of yourself or the situation. Watch out for sarcasm.
  9. Problem solve- Check your facts and then focus on a solution. Avoid the blame game
  10. Seek help- if you try multiple skills and are still feeling out of control, reach out.

Getting help

Dealing with anger isn’t easy. Controlling anger takes practice and sometimes support. It’s a life skill that everybody needs to learn and it’s an ongoing process, because there’ll always be something to get angry about! Anger can also be a sign of something else, such as depression or anxiety.. It’s important to take these signs seriously. Some roots of anger are very complex and deeply embedded; they can take time and professional help to figure out and resolve. 

Anger management counselling provides education and a therapeutic opportunity to deal with anger in a positive, functional way. Anger therapy focuses on 4 primary areas of growth:

1. Emotions

  • Learning how to connect with your body, mind, and emotions. These check ins can give you a lot of information about how you are doing, what your feeling, and how to cope. In order to control and redirect our anger we need to be in tune with what’s happening on the inside. Self-awareness goes hand in hand with self-control. 
  • Practicing specific skills to relax, focus, and soothe can help reduce your anger level and help you feel calmer.
  • Finding the humor in your aggravations changes your reactivity. Learn to not sweat the small stuff.

2. Thinking patterns

  • Your thoughts are directly connected to your emotions. Start to differentiate between your judgements and reality
  • Look for the evidence or facts of a situation. Look for alternative explanations or truths.
  • Challenge yourself when you think that someone intended to hurt you in some way. Often, other people's behaviour has nothing to do with you personally. Practice empathy by asking what may be going on for the other person.

3. Behaviours

  • Practice being responsive versus reactive. A response based on effective skills needs to focus on the problem. Don’t take your anger out on everyone else around you. Acting out doesn’t solve problems, it creates them
  • Communication is a critical set of skills in all healthy relationships. Learning how to approach conflict, speaking from your perspective, avoiding blame, and staying focused involve a lot of practice. It is crucial to be able to take a breath and know what your goal is before trying to communicate with others. These intentions may include maintaining yourself respect, respecting your relationship, or a specific outcome.
  • Anyone can learn assertive communication skills. Communicating in an assertive way is about respecting yourself, respecting others and learning how to express your feelings honestly and with care.

4. Making Amends

  • What do you do after a conflict? How you behave once there has been an anger outburst can have an impact on the intensity of the your emotions and how long they last.
  • How you approach reconciliation with others can determine whether your relationships last or not. Knowing how to say sorry, fix the damage, and move forward are critical to staying connected.

Serving Surrey, Langley, and the Fraser Valley, B.C.