As psychotherapists, we have often been asked to provide anger management. Whilst we know some people need to control their anger to prevent destructive effects on themselves and their relationships, what was then called anger management mainly consisted of breathing and cognitive techniques to control their anger. Although this worked for a lot of people, most left without really touching the surface of their issues. For most people, once a certain point of their anger has been reached, rational thought has gone out of the window.
How Psychotherapy Can Help with Anger Issues
Psychotherapists take a different approach to anger management, where they seek to understand the reason for the anger and attempt to address the problem at the root rather than simply how to control the symptoms. They also help people realise their triggers and work to understand where they came from.
The root of anger is different for each person; therefore, therapy can look different for everyone. During therapy, therapists will work with the client to explore the purpose and meaning of their anger helping them feel understood.
Anger can stem from a range of past experiences and can be triggered by completely different situations depending on the person. One person may feel angry when they feel threatened, powerless, and for many other reasons.
Anger and Depression
Anger is usually part of a complex set of internal feelings and conflicts. It can come out in bursts unexpectedly or can be repressed which causes feelings of guilt and self-criticism. Anger usually stems from feelings of rejection or loss, and is often directed inwards which can be a cause of depression.
The feeling of rejection can come from a range of situations, from abusive childhoods to parents suffering from depression themselves which can lead to the child feeling hurt and rejected. These past experiences can lead to painful feelings of self-loathing, unwantedness and internal or external anger.
Anger, when directed towards a person who is a child, family member or partner can also lead to ambivalence (conflicted feelings of love and hate) which can lead to anxiety or powerful guilt. These feelings can be split off and directed elsewhere which avoids hurting the loved one. Psychotherapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space to express these feelings which ease the need to act them out.
Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy is a collective of experienced psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working with a range of client groups, including fellow therapists and health professionals. If you would like more information, or an informal discussion please get in touch. Online therapy is available.