Anger is often seen as a 'bad' or troublesome emotion. However, anger is a normal, and often healthy human response to situations that are beyond our control. Anger can range from mild annoyance to feeling completely enraged. Anger can be directed either externally (towards a specific person/people, or an event) or internally (towards oneself). It can be very useful in alerting us to situations that require our attention. These situations often involve a need or desire for corrective action (i.e., addressing a conflict in a relationship).
Like other emotions, anger has a physiological component; in other words, our bodies react when we feel anger (i.e., heart rate speeds up, blood pressure rises). Anger also has a cognitive (thought) component: often the thoughts that we experience when angry are distorted and unhelpful and either act to worsen our anger or keep us angry.
Anger can become a problem when it is not expressed in an adaptive and constructive way. Anger expressed in an aggressive way, or alternatively 'bottled up' (often until one 'blows up') can cause a variety of problems in relationships with family or friends, work environment and overall quality of life. Expressing angry feelings assertively instead of aggressively and calming oneself physically (accepting the feelings and practicing relaxation strategies) are the best and healthiest ways to manage the inevitable angry reactions we all experience in our lives.
My therapeutic approach to anger counselling involves:
emotional factors (exploring what other emotional factors may be at play)
cognitive factors (becoming aware of and changing negative thought patterns that create and maintain unhealthy anger)
physical factors (learning to notice our bodily reactions and practicing relaxation strategies)
behavioral strategies (practicing assertiveness and communication skills, and managing trigger situations with strategies such as time-outs).