Anger Therapy


Everyone gets angry once in a while. All of us have triggers that spike our intense feelings. Anger is a powerful emotion that is an important part of our human experience.

Anger is often used to express other intense feelings that may be harder to deal with than the anger itself. This happens more often than you may realize. Have you ever felt like you “just snapped”? That’s a signal that the real reason for your anger may be buried. Sadness, fear and shame are examples of deep feelings that are sometimes expressed as anger because these feelings hurt too much to feel directly.

Excessive or chronic anger can come from a wide variety of causes including trauma, loss, humiliation or despair, among others. Improperly handled anger can feel overwhelming and uncontrollable. It can lead you to do destructive things, including hurting people you love, or it can cause serious legal problems. It can even cause serious health problems.


Sometimes anger becomes a habit. If being angry gets you what you want, like having people fear you or leave you alone, your anger is receiving positive reinforcement, and it will actually increase. Just like some other behaviors that we use to “numb out” or block things we don’t want to feel or think about, we learn that getting angry relieves some pressure…for a while. That temporary pressure relief can become a habit. That’s one way that anger is learned. You have learned to use anger to achieve your goals, even if the goals aren’t good for you, so you repeat your anger. Then you’re not just “so angry;” now you’re “angry all the time,” too.

No one likes to be around someone who is angry all the time. When we’re angry all the time, other people around us shut down and don’t confront our bad behavior. A lot of the time, other people let the angry guy or gal have his or her way so they don’t have to deal with the anger as much. That makes the angry guy think he’s powerful. But he’s not. Anger that is used to control people or keep people away from you is defensive anger. If you let other people make you feel defensive, they are powerful, not you.


Managing anger correctly can be learned too. Working with an experienced psychologist can help you understand your anger and help you learn to manage your intense feelings. Talking about your anger or your negative beliefs about your life with a strong, supportive and nonjudgmental listener can help you open up to the full range of your deep feelings. Instead of being angry all the time, you can start being happy.


I provide individual, marital and family treatment for anger using talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy for self control and mood control, techniques for control of temper, relaxation training, and mindfulness instruction to help with tolerance for distressing feelings. Improved self-management of reactive anger begins during the first session. Significant improvement in management of anger can be achieved within a few weeks. A typical course of treatment for improving anger is five to eight weeks.


If you are court ordered to take anger management classes for a domestic violence or other police charge, psychotherapy is not the best immediate solution for you. There are many online, nationally-certified, anger management courses for court-ordered classes. These are an inexpensive and effective way to fulfill court requirements related to domestic violence. There are links to some online courses in the sidebar.

After completing this requirement, you may become interested in learning more about yourself and your moods. Individual psychotherapy can be radically accelerated after completing an anger management course.

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