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Willis Atherley Bourne 1

This page was clinically reviewed by Willis Atherley-Bourne (BA, MA), Integrative Psychotherapist at Priory Hospital Hayes Grove, in August 2022.

People seeking treatment for anger management issues are often individuals 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 experiencing a life crisis that is affecting their personal and/or professional life. In some cases, the expression of anger is connected to more complex issues, such as trauma from earlier life events. This type of expression of anger is sometimes called an outburst. Outbursts can have a negative impact on the individual's home, work, and social relationships.

If you are having trouble with controlling your anger, then Priory’s nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres can offer co-ordinated specialist support and treatment programmes. Our programmes are designed to assist you in developing insight and putting 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 usually outburst of anger become more regular and worse over time, resulting in the need for anger management treatment. 

Detrimental problems associated with anger don't just relate to physical acts of aggression. Equally harmful, are repeated inwardly focused negative thoughts of anger or outward expression which cause harm to you e.g. punching walls, doors, etc. How you generally behave when you are angry depends on your ability to observe and ultimately control increased feelings of anger and frustration when they arise within you.

Unhelpful or destructive behaviours and expressions of anger to look out for, if you believe you or someone you know is experiencing anger management problems, 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 harm related to 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 deliberate self-harming 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, where ignoring people or refusing to speak to them or deliberately carrying out tasks at home or at work poorly, can have negative consequences affecting both yourself and the people around you.

Even if you have never expressed signs of outward aggression, or even been prone to raising your voice, you may still recognise some of the lesser known unhelpful behaviours and feel the need to address them in order to reduce their impact on your daily life and overall wellbeing.

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Anger management treatment at Priory

Feelings of anger can be related to many different underlying difficulties. For this reason, your case requires careful evaluation and assessment. Consideration is given to any underlying mental health, alcohol and/or substance misuse difficulties by identifying treatment options, whilst interpersonal difficulties may be addressed through specific talking therapies. Often, anger management difficulties may present as a make for severe low self-esteem and past trauma, including abuse. 

The type and length of anger management treatment is dependent on your individual circumstances and the severity your anger issues. Some patients are treated as outpatients, where you would attend Priory for hourly sessions, perhaps once a week, with your consultant, psychologist or therapist. You may also require 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 greatly 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 which identifies links between your thoughts, mood and behaviour. The unhelpful thought patterns associated with anger, leading to negative actions and emotions, are worked through to help you become more aware of these thought patterns and how you can adjust them towards a significant improvement in overall mood.

Interpersonal psychotherapy

Another talking therapy which involves a highly trained therapist listening to your personal experiences with anger to assist you in increasing 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 you anger may be a problem. Using scenarios to cover different situations, ranging from anger at work, in public or within a relationship, you will have space for learning with others and developing healthier responses.

A co-ordinated treatment programme will involve full participation by you in a safe and supportive environment. 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.

At Priory, we understand that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work in anger management therapy & treatment, as each situation requires careful, personalised evaluation.

Anger management tips

There are several tips that can help you to acknowledge and control your anger more effectively. These include:

  1. The first step to recovery is to 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
  2. Be honest with yourself and others around you. Try to surround yourself with positive people and remove negative influences
  3. Count to 5 or 10 when faced with a situation that makes you angry, before responding to the situation
  4. 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
  5. Get plenty of 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
  6. 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
  7. Asking for 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

Getting anger management help 

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 anytime on 0800 840 3219 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 are in crisis and are going to hurt yourself, or someone else, please use these crisis support helplines to speak to someone urgently. 

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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