Anger management: signs, self-help and treatment

Exploring the signs of anger issues, self-help tips for managing it and how anger management problems are treated.

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This page was clinically reviewed by Natasha Hussain (BA, BACP), Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at Priory Hospital Barnt Green, in March 2024. 

People getting treatment for anger management issues are often those who express anger beyond the usual frustrations and irritability that can be felt, at times, by all of us.

Anger management treatment is often sought by people who are going through a life crisis that's affecting their personal and/or professional life. In some cases, their expression of anger is connected to more complex issues, such as trauma from earlier life events. This type of anger is sometimes called an outburst. Outbursts can have a negative impact on the person's home, work, and social relationships.

If you're having trouble with controlling your anger, then Priory’s nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres can offer specialist support and treatment programmes. Our programmes are designed to help you to develop insight and put in place healthier alternatives to angry outbursts. There is also an educational aspect, which encourages you to learn more about the physical and emotional aspects of anger management.

What is an anger management problem?

We all experience feelings of anger or frustration from time-to-time as it's a natural human response. However, anger becomes a problem if it harms you and/or other people around you. The symptoms of anger issues can vary from person to person, but angry outbursts can become more regular and worse over time, resulting in the need for anger management treatment.

Problems associated with anger don't just relate to physical acts of aggression. Equally harmful, are repeated negative thoughts of anger, or outward expressions of anger that cause harm to you, such as punching walls and doors. How you generally behave when you're angry depends on your ability to observe and ultimately control feelings of anger and frustration when they arise within you.

Common signs of anger issues

Common symptoms of anger management issues

Unhelpful or destructive expressions of anger may include:

Outward verbal and physical aggression or violence

This may include shouting, swearing or being verbally abusive and threatening towards people around you. Physically lashing out, either by throwing objects or being physically violent to another person, are examples of outward aggression, and represent the clearest examples of unhelpful expressions of anger.

Inward anger

More subtle types of anger include directing your anger and frustration inwardly. You may have intense thoughts of hating yourself, which can lead to isolation from friends and family, and even put you at risk of self-harm or suicide.

Non-violent or passive aggression

While this may not seem as extreme as other types of unhelpful angry behaviour, passive aggressive displays of anger can have consequences for your relationships. For example, ignoring people or refusing to speak to them, or deliberately carrying out tasks at home or work poorly, can have negative consequences affecting yourself and the people around you.

Anger management tips

Several things can help you to acknowledge and control your anger more effectively. These include:

  • Acceptance - understand and accept the fact that you have a problem with anger management. Following this acceptance, you can then begin to look at your behaviour and what triggers certain reactions
  • Be honest - with yourself and others around you. Try to surround yourself with positive people and remove negative influences
  • Reach out - work with a friend or a relative to identify possible solutions to your anger. Don’t focus on what made you angry and instead, look at how you can resolve it rationally
  • Take time out – remove yourself from the situation for a set period of time gives you a chance to think before you act.
  • Relaxation – Practise relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga to relieve stress. This will help you to think clearly about your actions and reactions
  • Distraction – if you cannot change the situation, using distraction to change your environment or what you are doing can help.
  • Exercise - Going for a brisk walk or run can reduce stress so if you begin to feel angry, take some time to get outside and go for a walk
  • Self-talk – How you think affects how you feel therefore saying helpful positive statements before during and after situations can be helpful e.g. ‘ I can handle this. Remember to keep breathing and stay relaxed.’
  • Ask for help - accepting you need help doesn’t make you weak. If your anger becomes too much to bear, seek professional help. Our experts can work with you to create coping strategies and develop communication skills

Anger management treatment at Priory

Feelings of anger can be related to many different underlying difficulties. Treatment will consider any underlying mental health, alcohol and/or substance misuse difficulties as well as any interpersonal difficulties. Often, anger management problems may present as a mask for severe low self-esteem and past trauma, including abuse.

The type and length of anger management treatment is depends on your individual circumstances and how severe your anger is. Some people are treated as outpatients, where you'd attend a Priory site for hourly sessions, perhaps once a week, with your consultant, psychologist or therapist. Or you may need a more structured treatment approach, which can include taking part in anger management classes as part of our day care programme.

After your needs have been assessed and identified, and any underlying conditions dealt with, then you can benefit from psychological intervention for your anger issues. This may involve a variety of different treatment methods, ranging from a group therapy programme to a one-to-one intervention.

There are various treatment types that can help you to manage your anger, such as:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is a talking therapy that identifies links between your thoughts, mood, behaviour and physical sensations. During CBT, you'll work through the unhelpful thought patterns associated with anger. We'll then help you become more aware of these thought patterns and how you can adjust them towards a significant improvement in overall mood.

You will also learn about the physical sensations associated with anger (e.g. feeling hot or clenched fists) and learn how to be more aware of these and manage them more positively.

CBT treatment for anger also focuses on the differences between being assertive, passive and angry and will teach you skills on how to respond assertively rather than with anger.

Interpersonal psychotherapy

This is another talking therapy that involves a therapist listening to your personal experiences with anger to help you to increase your awareness and capacity to respond in your relationships at home, work or wider social settings. This type of therapy usually takes place in either one-to-one or group therapy sessions, the latter of which can help you gain valuable insights into how other people deal with their anger problems.

Anger management classes

Helping you focus on your expressions of frustration, anger and rage, anger management classes enable you to reflect on the triggers for your anger problems and learn more effective coping techniques for situations where anger may be a problem. Using scenarios to cover different situations, ranging from anger at work, in public or within a relationship, you'll have space for learning with others and developing healthier responses.

Getting anger management help

Ultimately, treatment consists of promoting appropriate coping behaviours, as well as developing skills in interpersonal communication, including appreciating other people's points of view and managing communication appropriately.

If you're struggling with anger management, it's important to know you're not alone. This condition is treatable and with the right techniques, you can control your anger and express your emotions in different ways.

You can call us any time on 0800 756 2805 to discuss anger treatment options at a Priory location near you. You can also enquire online about our services and how Priory can support you in your recovery. If you feel you're in crisis and are going to hurt yourself, or someone else, please use these crisis support helplines to speak to someone urgently.

Private medical insurance

All of the services we offer at Priory can be funded through private medical insurance. This includes:

  • Mental health treatment
  • Addiction treatment
  • Eating disorder treatment

All clients will have access to our highly skilled and accredited clinicians, many of whom are published experts in the field of mental health and addiction treatment. Whatever your requirement, we're committed to working with you to get your life back on track.

Registered and approved provider

We are a registered and approved provider for all of the UK's leading private medical insurers.

Anger management classes near me

We have treatment centres located throughout the country, meaning that you can access the support you need in a location that’s convenient for you. To find your nearest treatment centre, please use the function below.


Mental health treatment summary

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