Do you find yourself losing your temper and finding it hard to control your responses to anger? Or do you regularly experience feelings of hostility, irritability, and aggression? Episodes of rage and anger can lead to serious, even tragic, consequences of both physical and psychological nature. When you are emotionally dysregulated, you’re not yourself. Learn how to be the best version of yourself in anger management therapy in Philadelphia.
People suffering from issues that leave them feeling emotionally dysregulated can significantly benefit from anger management therapy. This section on our website will help you identify anger issues and overview the benefits of anger management therapy.
What is Anger Management Therapy?
Researchers initially developed anger management classes for individuals who have difficulties with violence due to anger. Typically, anger management classes are mandated by a judge for an individual to participate in as a way of reducing a sentence or fine. However, more than two decades of educational and clinical experience have proven anger management training applies to a wide range of individuals. These individuals are not violent but involved in conflicts with others.
Now, anger management therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps people gain insight into and control their responses to anger. The goal of anger management treatments is to help you understand your thoughts, feelings, and actions related to anger to learn to express yourself non-destructively.
Our anger management therapy has two main goals. The first is to reduce or shift the destructive responses to anger into more manageable or constructive responses. For example, instead of punching a wall, a person who gets angry might regularly try to go to the gym and punch a punching bag.
The second goal of anger management therapy is to help you reframe specific perspectives that lead you to feel angry in the first place. For example, suppose a person didn’t call you when they said they would. In that case, your initial thoughts might be that they are irresponsible, rude, and unappreciative of what you’re trying to give them (maybe a job or guidance with something).
Seeing the missed phone call from this perspective has the potential to make you then feel angry. Instead, what if you leaned in with compassion and empathy and thought to yourself, “I hope they’re okay. This isn’t like them not to follow through with something they say they’re going to do. Maybe I should reach out to them to make sure everything is okay.”
This perspective doesn’t lend itself to having you feel angry. Instead, you might feel concerned or more open to understanding their situation.
Some Statistics on Anger Issues
The World Health Organization reports that between 20-30 percent of Americans suffer from anger management problems, making it the third most common mental health issue in the United States.
A recent study has shown that women are statistically more likely to become angry when challenged or threatened with anger themselves. The same report also states that most violent crimes are committed by people who have a history of violence and anger issues.
Our professional therapists at The Better You Institute are available for in-person anger management therapy in Philadelphia or online therapy throughout Pennsylvania. First, you will gain awareness of the triggers to your anger, understand why these things upset you, and how to express anger healthily through individual therapy or group therapy sessions. Through these three steps, you will feel more in control and have a sense of calmness.
The 4 Different Types of Anger
While everyone experiences anger, not everyone responds to it the same way. Anger is a normal human emotion and can be a healthy emotion that we experience and channel in response to something wrong or unfair. That said, several types of anger may require professional help to manage effectively.
This type of anger is often the most problematic. It includes episodes of rage during which there is a total loss of control and destructive behavior. These episodes can be hazardous and may lead to physical violence.
Chronic anger is defined by persistent feelings of hostility, tension, or bitterness that interfere with your life regularly. This type of anger is common among individuals who have long-term stressors or chronic pain that affect their mood. Chronic anger tends to impact the angry person the most because it usually prevents them from hanging out with others or participating in an activity they might find enjoyable. Unless the person expresses their disdain or chip on their shoulder, others may not know that they are angry; therefore, not affecting them.
Situational anger results from a specific incident, such as an argument, upsetting situation, or disappointment; this incident triggers an aggressive response to the problem. Situational anger can be sudden, intense, and short-lived. When people think of anger, they typically bring this anger to mind. However, sudden outbursts and extreme actions (yelling, punching walls, kicking, tightening of your fists) are expressions of situational anger, often leading to trouble for the person expressing it.
Passive anger is also known as resentment or hostility. Passive anger is often triggered by unhealthy relationship dynamics or a feeling that things aren’t fair between you and another. Passive anger is characterized by holding grudges, refusing to forgive people, or expressing your anger indirectly, like giving someone the cold shoulder or being passive-aggressive. Sometimes passive anger can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems.
The difference between
Anger and Rage Anger
Anger is a natural human emotion that all people use as a protective measure from time to time. Anger can range from mild irritation to intense. It can be triggered by positive and negative events in our lives. Ultimately, anger is a secondary emotion that arises as a protectant to something else.
What happens when a person gets angry? People walk away; they don’t want to interact with an angry person. Or they fight back about whatever topic or incident the angry person claims made them angry. See how this protects you. Instead of talking about the insecurity, the fear, the lack of love or connection you feel, your inner doubts, hopelessness or helplessness at that moment (the emotions that are vulnerable and risky to share), you’re talking about how someone didn’t wash the dishes or fold the laundry correctly.
Examples of Anger as a protective measure based on the 4 types of anger:
- Explosive Anger: Hitting your partner when they don’t give you eye contact.
What is happening is that you feel [disrespected, invisible, unacknowledged, not good enough, shameful…]. Instead of being vulnerable in that moment to share your deepest emotions, you hit your partner, which puts them at the same level as you emotionally. Now you both feel deep emotions, but you’re not talking about them; you’re talking about the slap itself.
- Chronic Anger: Being short-tempered with the woman at the check-out counter as she hands you your change.
You feel so helpless as she drops some of your change, but you can’t reach to pick it up because your arthritis is acting up. Instead of sharing with a stranger how helpless you feel in that moment, you project anger toward them that they are clumsy.
- Situational Anger: Yelling at your partner because they left their shoes in the middle of the walkway despite you asking them to put them on the shelf several times.
You feel invisible/voiceless/unheard/unappreciated that your partner continues to leave their shoes all over instead of where you’ve asked them to put them. Unfortunately, instead of discussing these deeper emotions coming up for you, you are talking about the surface-level shoes and not resolving the crux of the issues.
- Passive Anger: You remember you left your shoes in the walkway and could quickly put them on the shelf. You know your partner will be angry, yet you choose not to put your shoes away and put your energy elsewhere without thinking about it.
You’re feeling disconnected/misunderstood/controlled/voiceless/unheard because your partner consistently gets their way and talks over you. Over time, you’ve lost the ability to focus your energy on your partner and the relationship. You could be having a conversation where you express your needs in the relationship. Still, instead, you do small passive, spiteful things to your partner.
Rage is more intense than mild irritation anger but can be a part of extreme anger. Rage is also more outside of us. While anger is more self-driven and protective about issues that personal actions can fix, rage tends to be in response to things that are greater than us. Rage stems from issues like losing a loved one, global warming, politics, or racism. Yes, on a personal level, these are topics that you can take action to fix. Still, ultimately, they are only fixable with the help of others.
Rage can present itself personally when something is so ingrained in us that it seems untouchable. For example, a child who witnessed their parents abuse and was abused themselves may become enraged enough to use physical violence against another person. Although this is due to something within them, deep-seated trauma has changed the wiring and structure of their brain. This person has such a distorted understanding of how to interrelate to others that they hit another human, just like they once were hit. Thus, rage is an uncontrollable or unreasonable response to something very frustrating, intimidating, or painful. Rage triggers extreme feelings of fury, powerlessness, helplessness, and shame, usually unbeknownst to the person feeling the rage. People who experience rage may have a hard time controlling their behavior during episodes.
Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Anger
Anger issues are characterized by frequent, intense episodes of anger that don’t dissipate over time. A person suffering from anger issues is more likely to have poorer mental and physical health. What are the causes, signs, and symptoms of extreme anger? What are the early signs of anger issues?
What can cause angry outbursts?
Many factors can trigger uncontrollable anger. Some common causes of anger include:
- A stressful situation or event (accident, stress at work, money issues).
- Alcohol, tobacco, or drug abuse.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Physical pains.
- Problematic personal relationships.
- Health problems (heart disease, digestive issues).
- Frustrations and disappointments.
- Long-term stress.
- Chronic pain.
- Emotional/Physical trauma.
- Unresolved emotions from childhood or past relationships.
- Insecurities within yourself.
- Negative core beliefs about yourself.
Again, people prone to angry outbursts most likely have underlying unresolved psychological and emotional issues. These issues make it more likely for them to use anger in moments when these underlying issues get triggered. These issues stay under the surface, most of the time unconsciously, but tend to be the driving force in our present thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Overly Controlled Emotions and Actions
People who express their emotions in a very controlled way may cause the very thing they are trying to avoid: a lack of control and problems with explosive emotions. Overly controlled feelings that do not get the space they need for genuine expression can lead to breaking things or the individual hurting themselves.
These are people who say they are “fine” in one moment when asked what’s wrong but then fly off the handle, burst into tears, or shut down and go numb in another moment. These are examples of unhealthy expressions of emotions. We cannot control our feelings. However, we can control what we do with them. Suppose you try to control the emotion too much. In that case, you deny yourself the ability to process it and resolve it within you. Thus, leading to more reactionary outbursts in response to the emotion itself.
Which other mental health conditions are associated with uncontrolled anger?
Anger can have psychological roots tangled with other mental health issues, leading to angry outbursts. These other mental health issues include:
- People suffering from mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar, often have a hard time managing their emotions and frequently feel emotionally dysregulated. Emotionally dysregulated people’s responses to anger can be more challenging to control. If you have mental health concerns, it’s crucial to find effective ways of working through the emotions that come up to avoid escalating into aggressive, angry outbursts.
- People who are addicts or alcoholics may struggle with anger issues that can lead to destructive behavior. Substances tend to numb a person out so that they are not in touch with their emotions. This numbing effect exacerbates the underlying issues at hand and allows them to become an even stronger driving force. Additionally, substances interact with our neurotransmitters, so people are less in control of their thoughts, emotions, and actions than when they are sober. They may be unable to control their reactions to their feelings and lash out in response to minor incidents that would otherwise mean nothing.
- People with personality disorders, such as histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder, are often characterized by explosive anger and impulsive behavior. As a result, they can quickly respond with aggression when angered. Due to the nature of these disorders, people are less in control of their actions than people without these characteristics.
Physical symptoms caused by anger:
- Rapid heartbeat.
- High blood pressure.
- Breathing heavily or gasping for breath.
- Muscle tremors, cramps, twitches, or spasms.
- Clammy hands and/or a cold sweat.
- Feeling sweaty or flushed.
- Face getting red or blotchy.
- More prone to illness.
- Chronic pain and illness.
- Heart attacks.
- Body dissociation.
Emotional and Mental symptoms caused by anger:
- Feeling on guard and more sensitive to perceived threats from others.
- Often feeling overwhelmed and out of control.
- Feeling irritable or agitated.
- A need for control, power, dominance, or a need to control others.
- Feeling a sense of loss.
- Feeling tense and restless.
- Aggressive, reckless behavior towards others.
- The need for destructive behavior as an outlet.
- Breaking things or hurting oneself.
- Negative self-talk.
- A pessimistic outlook on life.
- Feeling unhappy more often than not.
The 6 different Anger Management Therapies
It is essential to understand what triggers your anger and learn new coping strategies to work through the anger and react more effectively. Anger management counseling with a mental health professional can be highly beneficial. Many different types of therapy are available for anger management, including:
1- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on identifying and changing the thoughts and beliefs that trigger and perpetuate your angry reactions.
2- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Initially developed in the 1980s for people with borderline personality disorder Dialectical Behavioral Therapy has become quite popular. However, it has served a diverse population for various issues. DBT helps you become aware of your anger and its triggers and, therefore, manage your emotional reactions better. These skills create a new, more effective way of coping.
3- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a form of meditation based on Buddhism that focuses your awareness on the present moment. It helps make you less reactive to anger by taking a step back and observing your feelings without judging them.
4- Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic Therapy is a type of therapy that explores the link between your past and present experience. It aims to help you understand how unresolved conflicts from your past can contribute to your angry feelings and the reactions that come from them.
5- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Developed in the 1990s to treat depression, Acceptance, and Commitment Therapy have also become quite popular. It focuses on accepting what you cannot change and developing a commitment to changing what you can.
6- Anger Management Group Therapy
Receiving the emotional and physical support of therapy groups or family members is a big help in overcoming anger issues.
Anger Management Group Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on your relationship with anger and the social context in which you express it. Together, group members work on how to manage anger more positively. This type of therapy has multiple benefits, including the opportunity to practice your anger management skills in a non-threatening, supportive environment. It can also help you get support and feedback from others in a similar time in their life seeking to develop their anger management skills.
What Anger Management Therapy Can Help You With
With the help of a trained mental health professional, therapy can help you learn how to process your anger and control your reactions to it. Overall, improving your mental and physical health. Anger management can also help you treat issues created by your anger, such as relationship repair, legal issues, and owning and apologizing for your behaviors.
Anger management therapy with a mental health professional can help you with…
- Being self-aware when you experience anger.
- Managing anger reactions by remaining calm and being constructive.
- Identifying triggers to your anger.
- Learning how to express anger appropriately.
- Identifying and changing thought patterns that lead you to feel angry.
- Developing new ways to cope with anger.
- Learning how to become assertive rather than reactive (aggressive).
- Learning how to rebuild relationships damaged by anger.
- Gaining an understanding of the effects of anger on your body’s health.
- Relieving stress and helping manage emotional responses.
- Learning how to resolve conflicts in a non-aggressive manner.
- Reducing the frequency and intensity of angry episodes.
Consequences of Unresolved Anger
Treating anger is essential to avoid the consequences of unaddressed anger. Anger management problems can lead to:
- Severe health problems include high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
- Psychological problems such as increased levels of stress.
- Relationship issues, including violence and domestic abuse.
- Social isolation, due to a lack of self-esteem and self-control.
- Poor performance at work or school.
Either with support groups or individual work with a psychotherapist, the extra support can help you manage your anger and get a more balanced perspective.
Anger Management Therapy in Philadelphia, PA
Anger is a common emotion that everyone can feel from time to time. Anger isn’t inherently wrong. However, you are likely suffering from anger management issues when your body regularly experiences anger in response to specific events or people in your life. You might need anger management therapy in Philadelphia, PA, or virtually to help you express anger healthily.
At The Better You Institute, you can choose someone from our team of trained mental health professionals to provide you with treatment and anger management courses to help manage and control anger reactions.