Anger and Coping with Provocation

Among the many feelings that we experience, anger is one of the most complex and confusing. Anger is a powerful emotion — it gets people to pay attention and it can motivate us to deal with problem situations.

When something unjust or unfair has been done to you, becoming angry can fortify your self-esteem. On the other hand, anger can be disruptive and destructive to personal relationships and to personal health. Because anger can have harmful effects, we must learn how to manage this emotion and the thoughts and behaviours connected with it.

Anger management does not mean suppressing your anger, keeping a tight lid on it. Nor does it mean denying that you are angry, pretending that you are not angry, or avoiding the problem situation that has triggered your anger.

What it does mean is knowing how to prevent and regulate anger. It means learning how to not get angry in the first place and how to keep anger at moderate levels of intensity when it is aroused.

Most importantly, it means knowing how to take constructive action to resolve problems and conflict.

CBT will help you to understand your personal anger patterns and will teach you a number of effective strategies or coping skills for dealing with anger problems.

No matter how troublesome your problems with anger have been, you can learn how to “defuse” anger reactions and thereby improve your health, and your personal relationships.

CBT for anger management begins by paying careful attention to and identifying the frequent triggers of your anger. This understanding of specific reactions leads to the formation of an individualised CBT problem conceptualisation and treatment plan.

Through a process of challenging thoughts, beliefs and feelings clients then learn how to apply cognitive behavioural therapy to manage their triggers in a more constructive and helpful fashion. If there are underlying issues such as stress or self-esteem, a programme is designed to incorporate necessary changes. Often some practical steps are suggested, such as time management, exercise, changes in life environment, improved communication skills or sometimes quite simply some time off! CBT tools are provided to manage anger in the moment, and also to help reduce tension levels in general.

People with anger issues have generally been having problems for some time, though often it is an increase in anger levels that motivate the client to seek help.

Treatment also includes an extensive stress reduction and relaxation programme to reduce the sense of threat, violation, frustration, fear and guilt that these outbursts and loss of control can produce.

2. The second part of the treatment is designed to use standard CBT to challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about the self, other people, and their future by:-

  • first identifying these negative automatic thoughts
  • testing them as hypothesis rather than facts
  • discovering what errors of logic are being made
  • substituting them for a more balanced way of thinking.

3. The third part of CBT Counselling looks at deeper core belief and schemas from early life (up to sixteen) which are then modified to aid in relapse prevention. Areas of:-

  • subjugation (being controlled or invalidated as a child)
  • mistrust (feeling abused or exploited by others)
  • punitive parent (criticising, shaming, verbally abusive)
  • emotional deprivation (in the areas of nurture, empathy, protection, mentoring)
  • vulnerability to harm from others
  • not being good enough/worthy

These are often present as some of the underlying non-conscious beliefs which are at the source of anger problems.