Counselling for Anger
Anger is a very primal, basic emotion – it is also a very complex one. Anger can be a primary emotion (for example someone hits you, and this makes you instantly angry), but it can also be a strategy to cover up painful feelings (it feels easier, and appears stronger, to be angry, than to appear sad, powerless, vulnerable, or rejected, etc).
The term “Anger Management” may have been popularised by the movie of the same name, but one of the myths about anger management is that it is simply about counting to ten or taking deep breaths or punching pillows (indeed, research has shown that finding outlets for anger in this way does not necessarily reduce anger but may in fact feed it!).
Anger is not always inappropriate (for example feeling anger when we see an injustice can be seen as healthy and has driven many people to make changes in our world), though our early lives may have conditioned us to believe that anger is wrong, resulting in “bottling up” anger until it spills over into rage (often, though by no means always when alcohol is involved, removing the usual inhibitions). Anger can be very destructive, and can be directed towards ourselves as much as towards other people.
As with all the problems I work with, when counselling for anger, I do not look at anger as an isolated “symptom” but work with people as unique individuals, exploring background, triggers for anger, making sense of the anger response and any other emotions that may be ravelled up with the anger, and looking at ways of reducing, processing and managing anger so that it becomes less destructive.