Anger is a normal human emotion, which often occurs in response to feeling attacked, thwarted, frustrated or mistreated. Many people think of anger as a ‘bad’ emotion and something we shouldn’t feel. However, on an evolutionary level, anger can be useful for survival and learning about ourselves as it can help us to:
- Defend ourselves when we feel under threat or are being attacked, by making us physically ready to respond and deal with the situation.
- Help us to identify relationships/situations which are harming us.
- Motivate us to change a situation that is making us unhappy.
However, anger can be a serious problem when it harms you or people around you. This can happen if you express your anger through unhelpful or destructive behaviours, most commonly resulting in aggression. Your anger may lead you to be aggressive in the following ways:
Outward aggression – for example, making threats to hurt others, being verbally abusive (including swearing), damaging property and physically assaulting others.
Inward directed aggression – this includes telling yourself you are bad, denying yourself things that you need to survive (e.g. food, the support of others etc.) and self-harm.
Passive aggression – rather than outwardly becoming angry with others you may do little things to get back at them such as ignoring others, deliberately cancelling on them at the last minute, complaining about them behind their back etc.
If you are aware that you express your anger through outward aggression it is very important to seek treatment as soon as possible as it is very upsetting and damaging to those around you and can have serious consequences, including police involvement. Even if you are never outwardly aggressive or violent you may still feel that your level of anger is a problem, requiring treatment and support.
Treatment for anger problems
Dr Rose has significant experience of working with violent offenders who often have severe difficulties managing their anger, resulting in regular and serious outward aggression. Based on her therapeutic work with this client group, she has extensive expertise in a range of anger management approaches that she uses in private practice. Dr Rose will help you to manage your anger problems in the short-term by helping you to learn healthy coping strategies to manage your anger (e.g. taking timeout). In the longer-term you may benefit from psychological therapy such as Schema Therapy or Mentalization Based Treatment. During an initial meeting, you and Dr Rose will agree together about which therapeutic approach is right for you, depending on the extent of your difficulties and the amount of time you are able to commit to therapy. If it is thought that your anger is related to a serious mental health disorder e.g. psychosis, Dr Rose will also recommend a psychiatric review and make a referral if necessary.