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How Does Anger Management Work?

a man learns healthy coping tools in group therapy for anger management

Anger is a common emotion. Just like happiness and sadness, everyone experiences anger at some point in their lives. While anger issues are not considered a diagnosable mental health disorder, there are still tangible treatment options to address anger at the root. This is called anger management. Most people have at least some idea of what anger management looks like. But how anger management is portrayed in popular culture is far from a complete picture. Access high-quality mental health treatment services in Athens, GA by calling Serenity Grove at 844.904.3485.

What Is Anger Management?

Anger management is the process of learning to manage difficult-to-control anger through techniques like expressing, suppressing, and calming. As the introduction stated, anger is a natural emotion. But just because something is natural doesn’t mean it can’t be damaging if it is expressed in negative ways. That’s why learning to deal with anger in healthy ways is essential for living a productive life and fostering deep interpersonal relationships.

Anger is a complex emotion. It really has two dimensions. One is experiential. This is the set of physiological responses that accompany anger. The second is expressional. This is the behavior that someone engages in to deal with anger. The physiological responses are often uncontrollable reactions. But what can definitely be controlled are the behaviors that someone uses when they feel angry.

For example, when someone gets angry, their heart rate might be up, their face may flush, and they may feel heightened stress. One possible behavior that could follow is yelling. But that’s not inevitable. There are numerous other ways to respond. That’s what anger management is all about.

How Does Anger Management Work?

Anger management works by helping people understand what triggers their anger and what their natural response to anger is. One of the main goals of anger management is to equip people with skills to manage anger in healthy, productive ways. There are three distinct focus areas in anger management. These are relaxation, cognitive therapy, and skill development.

1. Relaxation

Relaxation is about learning to calm the body. This element of anger management helps people’s physiological arousal be less intense. That can look like practicing meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga. The relaxation element of anger management is meant to be proactive as it changes how a person operates in the world.

2. Cognitive Therapy

Even though anger is not a mental health disorder in the traditional sense, that doesn’t mean people who struggle with anger can’t benefit from professional therapy. One of the best therapies for addressing anger is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT for anger tackles the patterns of thinking and behaving that are behind how a person expresses anger. It is also effective at rooting out the underlying triggers and causes of anger.

3. Skill Development

Skill development is the process of learning new behaviors and coping mechanisms. One simple behavior is to avoid triggers. Once you know what causes anger, it is often best to avoid those things. However, that may not always be possible. Perhaps the source of anger is a job that you need to keep, at least for a while, because of finances. When triggers cannot be avoided, other coping mechanisms can help.

While it may sound simple, one category of coping mechanisms that are common to anger management is “time outs.” Basically, this category is anything that helps you slow down or remove yourself from the situation. Examples include:

  • Leave the situation
  • Count to 10
  • Repeat calming phrases or a mantra
  • Take a series of slow, deep breaths
  • Focus on a more pleasant thought

When it comes to interpersonal conflict and how that can be a cause of anger, the conflict resolution model is a helpful toolkit. This model offers five steps for dealing with an interpersonal conflict that help people slow down and prioritize problem-solving.

Get Help with Anger Management at Serenity Grove

Do you need help with your anger? There’s no shame in admitting that you do. Prioritize taking action to improve your relationship with anger today by calling 844.904.3485 or filling out our online contact form.