Anger Management Techniques & Therapy

Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

In this lesson you will learn the definition of anger, aggression, and anger management. You will learn techniques of anger management and types of therapy that assist individuals with anger management. Following the lesson will be a brief quiz.

What Is Anger?

You may have seen the comical movie, Anger Management, and now have a slightly distorted perception of anger and anger management therapy. In the movie, Adam Sandler is the client who has struggled with being bullied his entire life. Jack Nicholson is the unconventional therapist who tries to rid Sandler of the anger that he has suppressed for so long. If you haven't seen it, you're guaranteed a good laugh if you do. Aside from this fictional reference, what actually is anger and anger management?

Anger is a strong feeling of aggravation or irritation towards or about someone or something. Anger is an absolutely normal response to something that we perceive as being a threat to ourselves or someone of whom we care for or love. But anger is no longer considered okay when it is expressed in a way that is not conducive to preserving relationships or solving problems with others in a constructive and healthy manner.

Anger can sometimes turn into aggression, which is a malicious and/or violent attitude or behavior towards a person or situation. Aggression can be manifested in the form of yelling, cursing, name-calling, hostile questioning, insults and/or physical violence. If someone is displaying aggression towards others, they would probably benefit from learning anger management techniques and getting additional support with therapy.

Anger Management Techniques

Anger management involves learning how to identify symptoms that you are getting angry, but the bulk of it is implementing techniques or strategies to calm anger so that you can express it in a constructive and healthy manner. The most popular anger management techniques can be broken down into two main categories. The first category is distraction and relaxation techniques.

Distraction and relaxation techniques are not only useful with anger-management, but they can also be used to manage stress or anxiety. Here are a few of the handiest strategies:

  • Count backwards from 100 by 4s- When you do this, you take your mind off the anger and focus on the task at hand. Stop counting when you feel composed enough to handle the anger-inducing situation in a calm manner.
  • Practice Deep breathing- Taking a long inhalation through the nose lasting at least three seconds and then a relaxing exhalation out of the nose or mouth and repeating until calm is another great technique to bring oxygen to your brain and divert your attention from anger to your breath. Be sure to breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
  • Engage in a hobby or game- This won't always work because you won't always have access to a game or hobby, but if you become angry at home, this can be a positive way to channel the energy from anger into something more constructive, like gardening, reading, or painting.
  • Phone a friend- Remember this lifeline in the popular show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Chatting with a buddy or supportive family member to speak about neutral topics (not the topic that is making you angry), such as an upcoming fun activity or a book you just read, can be a great tool to distract you from angry feelings, provide a fresh perspective, or serve as a sounding board of your frustrations. Just make sure your friend is a calming influence; you wouldn't want to call someone who will just flame the fire.
  • Practice meditation, yoga, or cardiovascular exercise- These are great ways to relax or sweat out that angry energy and replenish your brain with a healthy dose of happy hormones- endorphins.
  • Take a time out- If your emotions are overheated, retreat until you are calm, and then come back and solve the problem.

The second anger management technique category incorporates cognitive restructuring techniques. Much of anger is due to your ego feeling threatened. If you actually change the way that you think or react to anger-inducing situations or people, your emotions (i.e. anger) and actions (i.e. aggression) will also adjust.

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