11 therapy techniques and interventions for anger management (2023)

11 therapy techniques and interventions for anger management (1)"You Bach."
"A fuse has blown."
"It made my blood boil."
"It's out of control."
"They drove me over the wall."

These are just a few of the many imaginative idioms we use to describe anger. You don't draw a very pretty picture, do you?

While anger is considered a minor problem, it has an important function. When expressed constructively, anger can be really useful in society.

Although anger is a common and natural emotion, many people find it difficult to effectively manage or express anger constructively. Anger can become a serious problem when met with aggressive and violent means.

In this article, we will break down the psychology behind anger management, explain how anger management therapy works, and provide interventions you can use to help clients develop their anger management skills and awareness.

Before we go any further, we thought you might like itDownload our three positive relationship exercises for free. These detailed, science-backed exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enhancing relationships.

This article contains:

  • The psychology behind anger management
  • 12 Symptoms of Problematic Anger in Adults
  • What is the best therapy for anger?
  • How does aggression therapy work?
  • Why is anger management important?
  • PositivePsychology.com Resources
  • A message to take away
  • references

The psychology behind anger management

Anger is often portrayed as a "bad," reckless, or useless emotion. But while anger can sometimes lead to more destructive behavior, it has an important self-protective function that can help achieve social well-being (Lambert, Eadeh, & Hanson, 2019).

Why do we get angry?

We become angry when we perceive an injustice, believe we have been wronged, or experience a provocation that challenges our values ​​or principles (Lambert et al., 2019; Thomas, 2001).

Hostility is distinct from anger and is more commonly understood as a persistent negative attitude toward others and the world (Thomas, 2001).

Anger can range in intensity from mild irritation to fire-breathing rage (Staicu & Cuţov, 2010) and can cause changes in physiology, such as: B. elevated blood pressure (Lochman, Palardy, McElroy, Phillips & Holmes, 2004).

The sources of anger can be external or internal. Some examples of external anger triggers could be:

  • Feeling unfairly treated by your boss
  • Believing that a romantic partner takes you for granted
  • Denial of equal access to a resource for unlawful reasons, such as B. your gender, age or race

Exactly what gets your blood boiling is unique, and many factors can affect how you feel, express, and deal with your anger, including:

  • Learned behavior (eg, watching parents express their anger)
  • genetic predisposition
  • environment and experiences
  • Difficulty in problem solving (Hendricks, Bore, Aslinia & Morriss, 2013)

Why anger is useful

Anger is a warning sign that lets us know when something unfair has happened and action is needed to remedy it (Lambert et al., 2019). When appropriate and proportionate, anger can be useful in motivating us to confront a perceived threat or to correct an unfair situation (Lambert et al., 2019; Thomas, 2001).

(Video) CBT Techniques for Anger Management

Anger can lead to violence, but these terms are not synonymous. People can hurt others without getting angry, and being angry doesn't always result in aggression or violence. If anger can be communicated constructively, it might actually reduce the likelihood of aggression if relationships can be excused and repaired (Thomas, 2001).

differences in anger management

Our personal beliefs, principles, and values ​​determine what we perceive as threatening or unfair in the world. A source of intense anger for one person may not even register on another person's radar (Thomas, 2001).

Negative or traumatic experiences in a person's past can predispose them to anger management problems for a variety of reasons. Being abandoned or abused by people close to you can make it harder to trust people and embrace the best in others. Other mental health problemslow self esteemit may also contribute to anger management difficulties (Priory, 2020).

Our abilities to deal with and express anger also differ. Some people have a hard time dealing with anger right now and may not be able to calm down. Other people may find it difficult to communicate their feelings calmly and respectfully (Priory, 2020).

12 Symptoms of Problematic Anger in Adults

11 therapy techniques and interventions for anger management (2)There are currently no clinical criteria to diagnose problematic anger, but some behavior patterns that may indicate problems with anger management include the following:

  1. Difficulty managing andExpress feelings in a healthy way.
  2. Problems in social, sentimental, or work relationships due to behaviors that stem from anger
  3. Substance abuse and/or addiction
  4. Directing anger at self through self-harm or social isolation
  5. The ability to work or study is impaired by anger or similar behavior.
  6. Difficulty negotiating or reaching an agreement with others calmly
  7. The anger is intense and/or occurs very frequently.
  8. get angry too easily
  9. Angry feelings last a long time.
  10. Becoming very angry or violent when drinking alcohol
  11. Violent, antisocial, or aggressive behavior.
  12. Anger with law enforcement due to angry behavior (Lench, 2004; Priory, 2020; Thomas, 2001)

Ultimately, when anger is not serving your interests, health, or relationships and/or causing problems in your life, it is likely dysfunctional (Lench, 2004).

What is the best therapy for anger?

Most of the research on anger therapy has focused on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and as suchTCCis the predominant form of therapy in this area (Lee & DiGiuseppe, 2018).

CBT and anger management

CBT emphasizes important connections between our feelings, our thoughts and beliefs, and our behaviors, and is a highly effective treatment for psychiatric and nonclinical groups (Lee & DiGiuseppe, 2018).

A meta-analysis combining 50 studies and 1,640 participants found that people who received CBT for anger had more positive outcomes than 76% of people who did not receive treatment (Beck & Fernandez, 1998).

CBT anger management interventions have been shown to be effective in helping a wide range of populations, such as those with high blood pressure, angry drivers, those in prison, students, police officers, and parents (Deffenbacher, Oetting, & DiGiuseppe, 2002).

How does aggression therapy work?

11 therapy techniques and interventions for anger management (3)CBT anger management interventions generally focus on the emotional and physiological elements of anger, the cognitive (thought/behavioral) processes that drive dysfunctional anger, and/or social and communication skills (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

Relaxation-based interventions

Relaxation interventions address the emotional and physiological experience of anger.

People learn to use relaxation to manage anger and reduce their arousal. A more relaxed frame of mind can help people reflect on their behavior and use their skillsconflict managementand problem solving (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

stress vaccine

During the stress inoculation training, people rehearse an internal dialogue to explain how they would handle an anger-triggering situation.

They can build a repertoire of coping statements or think about how to challenge negative assessments of the situation.

Through the practice of this self-directed dialogue, they can begin to approach situations with confidenceincreased self controland lower arousal (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring begins as a bug-finding mission, assisting clients to identify dysfunctional or biased beliefs and thought processes that lead to anger, such as overly personalized feedback from others or unhelpful beliefs such as "People never care about me." ." .

Clients are then assisted in developing alternative thought processes that are more useful, rational, and reality-aligned (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

(Video) CBT for Anger Management

social skills training

Social Skills InterventionsThey aim to reduce destructive and antagonistic behaviors and help people develop stronger communication and conflict management skills.

Some skills the client can develop are listening andassertivenesswho reflect on the impact of their behavior on others and negotiations (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

Being able to communicate more effectively can itself reduce anger, and improving coping skills can prevent conflict from escalating (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

11 therapy techniques and interventions for anger management (4)

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(Video) Treating the Angry Client: 5 Anger Management Techniques

The 3 best interventions and advice tips

There are many ways to help clients identify, express, and deal with their anger more constructively. Importantly, anger management therapy may not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions, such as: B. neurological disorders, psychosis, personality disorders or paranoia (Thomas, 2001).

Here are some interventions that may be helpful when working with someone with problematic anger.

Withdraw, rethink, react

This simple intervention helps clients think about ways to delay reacting angry to a situation. A typical negative response pattern is to react (e.g., yell at someone), withdraw (remove yourself from the situation or be removed), and then rethink (reconsider your actions and what you could have done differently) after the damage has already been done.

To break this negative cycle, you can help the client figure out how to change this habitual response by first withdrawing into a headspace, considering the event, and then responding in a more reflective manner (Schimmel & Jacobs, 2011).

The technology of 7/11

In the heat of the moment, it can be helpful for customers to look for a proven product.Breathing technique to control angerto help them relax, clear their minds and activate their parasympathetic nervous system (“Rest and Digest”) (Tyrrell, 2018).

Help your client practice these steps the next time they get angry:

  • Pause and focus on your breathing.
  • Inhale to quickly count to 7
  • Exhale to quickly count to 11
  • Continue for at least 1 minute
  • Think about the consequences of responding from this more relaxed place (Tyrrell, 2018)

Norman Cotterell's 7 Steps to Anger

Norman Cotterell, PhD, is a senior physician at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and advocates a seven-step anger management intervention.

Preparation: cost-benefit analysis

Before looking at interventions, Cotterell (2021) suggests that a simple way to empower clients to make choices about how to deal with problematic anger is to conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

Thats how it works:

  • Ask the client to list the qualities of someone who manages their anger in a way they admire.
  • Then ask them to weigh the costs and benefits of being like that person and the costs and benefits of getting angry.
  • Ask the customer to rate how important each cost and benefit is.
  • At the end, add up the scores and ask the client if the costs outweigh the benefits of continued anger. Do the same with the costs/benefits of being the person you admire. (Cotterell, 2021)

Step 1: Which "should" rule is violated?

Anger is triggered when one of our "should" rules is broken; for example, "You should be honest with me" or "He should call me back." Recognizing which rule has been broken gives us the opportunityaccept what happenedOr keep fighting it.

The "should" rules also point out what our positive values ​​are, which can be helpful for reflection. For example, “I should pay half” might show that you care about fairness and equality (Cotterell, 2021).

The client is then asked to think about what they want for themselves in the long term and how they can deal constructively with rule-breaking situations while still acting in accordance with their values ​​(Cotterell, 2021).

Step 2: What is hurtful or scary about breaking this rule?

Find out why breaking your rules is painful for someone. what does that tell you Does it confirm negative beliefs you have about others or about yourself?

This is where it helps to examine the evidence for your beliefs and consider more useful ways of interpreting the behavior of others (Cotterell, 2021).

Step 3: "Hot Thoughts"

Identify thoughts that are very "hot" or emotional and try to change reactive thoughts; For example, replace “he's an idiot” with the more thoughtful thought “he made an honest mistake” (Cotterell, 2021).

Step 4: Anger

You can learn to manage the excitement associated with anger using classic relaxation practices like visualizations andProgressive Muscle Relaxation. Cotterell (2021) suggests that you could also explore anger as a source of energy that can be helpful as you aim to actualize our values ​​and principles.

When anger leads to behavior that we would judge as unacceptable or immoral, it can become hypocritical (Cotterell, 2021).

Step 5: Moral Separation

Examine any beliefs or justifications for using anger in destructive ways, such as: B. "He started it" or "You pushed my buttons on purpose."

(Video) Heavy Angry Heart Ballon Activity

Essentially, these rationalizations make us feel better about doing bad things. Encourage the client to weigh the pros and cons of these justifications and what can be achieved by having more patience and empathy for others (Cotterell, 2021).

Step 6: Aggression

This step involves taking a closer look at problematic behaviors that stem from anger. The client may be asked to identify with people who upset or act aggressively toward them. This is a perspective-taking exercise that helps the client manage their own anger and the anger of others and improve opportunities for constructive communication (Cotterell, 2021).

Step 7: Result

In this final phase, you can work with the client to release guilt and understand that if they experience angry episodes again, they are not a failure. Each time this happens, it is an opportunity to learn and break the cycle of anger with the strategies and skills learned (Cotterell, 2021).

Why is anger management important?

11 therapy techniques and interventions for anger management (6)Problematic or chronic anger rarely has good outcomes for the angry person.

It can lead to job problems, broken relationships, and even criminal charges (Priory, 2020).

Prolonged anger can also be bad for our health. experiment regularlynegative emotionssince anger can lead to chronic activation of the body's stress response system (Davidson & Mostofsky, 2010).

A 10-year study found that lower levels of constructive anger and higher levels of justification for destructive anger were associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease in both men and women (Davidson & Mostofsky, 2010).

Anger can also lead to unhealthy lifestyles and has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, possibly due to inflammation associated with a stressed body or as a result of poor health behaviors (Staicu & Cuţov, 2010).

Anger treated with destructive and aggressive means can lead to violence,domestic violence, bullying or abusive parenting practices (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).

Being able to communicate anger constructively is healthy, can improve relationships, and helps avoid unnecessary conflict or aggression.

PositivePsychology.com Resources

If you are currently working with a client to improve their anger management skills and awareness, these free tools and exercises may be helpful in your sessions.

  • Exit and re-entry of anger
    this worksheethelps clients recognize when it is best to detach from conflict or difficult conversations, calm down, and reengage later to facilitate better understanding and shared problem solving.
  • Neutralize critical thoughts
    This exercisehelps clients identify critical thoughts and “should” views and replace them with less critical alternatives.
  • Countdown to calm down
    This mindfulness exerciseinvites clients to use all five senses to ground themselves, find calm and consciously accept things as they are.
  • effect of my anger
    this worksheethelps clients to capture examples of behaviors stimulated by anger to reflect on who was affected by anger and how.
  • Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets and Resources
    This article is dedicated to providing specific resources forAnger management in adolescents, a time when life's challenges require a unique understanding.
  • Anger Management for Kids: 14 Best Activities and Worksheets
    Similar to our article for teenagers,Anger management for childrenaddresses the unique challenges of helping children solve these challenging emotional problems.
  • 15 anger management tests and quizzes to use in your sessions
    This article containsAggressionsmanagement-Testshas many useful and valuable resources for your practice.
  • 17 exercises in positive communication
    If you're looking for more science-based methods to help others communicate better, this collection contains17 validated positive communication tools for professionals. Use them to help others improve their communication skills and build deeper, more positive relationships.

A message to take away

Anger is a natural emotion that can be useful and highly functional in society. But, as Aristotle said:

Anyone can get angry, it's easy, but getting angry at the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way isn't within everyone's reach and it's not easy.

It's true that dealing with our anger can be difficult, especially if we haven't learned how to express anger constructively. When anger becomes a problem, it can have serious consequences for the angry person and those around them.

Fortunately, most of us can develop our anger management skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a highly effective therapy for anger management. It works by empowering people to recognize how their thought processes and beliefs can be a catalyst for anger and aggressive behavior, and encouraging them to learn alternative and more useful thinking strategies and coping mechanisms to deal with anger when it arises.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. do not forgetDownload our three positive relationship exercises for free.


(Video) What is anger management therapy?

  • Beck, R. and Fernández, E. (1998). Cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of anger: a meta-analysis.Cognitive therapy and research,22(1), 63–74.
  • Cotterell, N. (8. Juni 2021).Seven steps to anger.The Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from https://beckinstitute.org/blog/seven-steps-for-anger/
  • Davidson, KW & Mostofsky, E (2010). Expression of anger and risk of coronary artery disease: Evidence from the Nova Scotia Health Survey.American Journal of the Heart,159(2), 199–206.
  • Deffenbacher, J.L., Oetting, E.R., & DiGiuseppe, R.A. (2002). Principles of empirically based interventions in dealing with anger.The consulting psychologist,30, 262–280.
  • Hendricks L, Bore S, Aslinia D & Morriss G (2013). The effects of anger on the brain and body.Journal of the National Forum for Counseling and Addiction,2(1), 1–12.
  • Lambert, A.J., Eadeh, F.R., & Hanson, E.J. (2019). Anger and its consequences for judgment and behavior: recent developments in social and political psychology.Advances is experimental social psychology,59, 103–173.
  • Lee, A.H. & DiGiuseppe, R. (2018). Anger and aggression treatments: a meta-analysis review.Current opinion in psychology,19, 65–74.
  • Lench, H.C. (2004). Anger management: diagnostic differences and implications for treatment.Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology,23(4), 512–531.
  • Lochman, J.E., Palardy, N.R., McElroy, H.K., Phillips, N. and Holmes, K.J. (2004). Interventions for anger management.Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention,1(1), 47–56.
  • Priory (2020).Symptoms of Anger Management. Retrieved from https://www.priorygroup.com/mental-health/anger-management/symptoms-of-anger-management
  • Schimmel, CJ & Jacobs, E (2011). Ten creative counseling techniques to help clients deal with anger.online views,53. American Advisory Association.
  • Staicu, M. L. & Cuţov, M. (2010). Anger and unhealthy behavior.Journal of Medicine and Life,3(4), 372–375.
  • Thomas, SP (2001). Teach healthy anger management.Perspectives in Psychiatry,37, 41–48.
  • Tyrrell, M. (7. Mai 2018).How to use CBT for anger management. Mark Tyrrell's therapy skills. Retrieved from https://www.unk.com/blog/how-to-use-cbt-for-anger-management/


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