Studies indicate that as many as 7.8% of the US population has poorly controlled, intense, and even inappropriate anger. Although anger is a very natural emotion, it can become concerning when an individual has regular outbursts or says hurtful words when angry.
Fortunately, it is not necessary for a person to keep struggling with anger, as it is possible to treat these types of angry outbursts. One of the most effective treatment options for anger management is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
How Does CBT Help with Anger Management?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that takes a solution-oriented approach to dealing with and overcoming negative emotions and habits. The process, which can include an Anger Management session by United Recovery, involves identifying the negative thoughts or feelings that a person has, performing a reality check to challenge their thoughts, and replacing those thoughts with more rational ones. This approach to helping people come to terms with their anger is especially effective among people struggling with addiction, depression, and anxiety, as it helps them develop more practical skills.
During an anger management session by United Recovery, therapists will first help individuals identify their triggers and the root causes that contribute to them. The next step is to show them more effective ways to manage their anger, such as problem-solving, relaxation techniques, and deep breathing.
CBT Techniques for Anger Management
Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to solving it, with the logical next step being getting the help that you need. CBT can be a very effective form of therapy that can help you manage your anger and replace your negative thoughts with more positive ones. Here are some CBT techniques that therapists might use to help with anger management.
Research shows that anger can often be a sign of an underlying mental health condition like depression or anxiety. Therefore, taking a more strategic approach to understanding your anger and then treating it could offer more effective treatment. Your therapist will help you reframe all of the negative thoughts that you have into something a little more positive.
Since anger is often irrational, simply analyzing it can allow for a more effective way to manage your anger. Therefore, your therapist might even ask you to compare the cost and benefit of having such an angry perspective to help with reasoning.
Social Skills Training
In some cases, the anger that an individual feels can be the result of their inability to communicate what they want to the people around them effectively. Social skills training emphasizes the importance of reducing destructive behaviors with the help of better communication skills.
Along with reducing anger by itself, developing better social skills can allow individuals to consider the impact of their actions. Furthermore, individuals can also avoid further spiraling down triggering situations by having an angry reaction. Instead, therapists will equip them with the right framework to better analyze the situation and avoid conflict.
Cognitive restructuring is a very effective CBT technique to asses biased and dysfunctional beliefs. More specifically, you will be encouraged to find words, actions, or comments that can trigger an angry reaction. A therapist might also encourage individuals to analyze internalized phrases such as “people don’t listen.”
The important aspect of CBT for anger is that its effectiveness hinges on a thought record. This thought record is a list of the many statements or actions that can trigger you. Some will be more obvious, while some are barely noticeable. As you fill in the thought record, you will start to understand how your brain processes information and why you are prone to get angry by these triggers.
People who have trouble maintaining their anger will often bottle up their emotions until they reach their breaking point. At that moment, they will often express their emotions in a very unhealthy and volatile way.
So, instead of unhealthily repressing your emotions, your therapist will use assertive communication techniques to help you improve at dismantling anger-inducing situations. You will be using both verbal and non-verbal behavior to process your emotions. Verbal communication is about using “I” statements, and non-verbal communication can include things like your volume of speech posture, eye contact, and tone of voice.
Another CBT technique that can be very effective in helping individuals deal with their anger is behavioral rehearsal. With this specific technique, your therapist will walk you through a situation that would normally trigger an angry reaction. Now, you and your therapist will role-play the entire situation to see how you could have done things differently.
Behavioral rehearsal can be very effective at helping you deal with triggering situations that occur often. They will offer supportive and honest feedback after an exercise, which can further improve your social skills.
You can also practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation to help calm yourself down. Excessive anger can lead to hyperventilation and an increased heart rate. Breathe in and breathe out slowly when tensions get too high. Along with helping you breathe better, this can also give you a chance to think more clearly. You can also perform neck and shoulder exercises to reduce stiffness. Studies show that regular breathing exercises can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.
Joining a Residential Treatment Program
If your angry outbursts become too violent or volatile, then you should consider joining a residential treatment program. You can have regular meetings with your therapist and have a routine set out for you, which also includes regular exercise. You will also be in a much more peaceful environment, which can help you feel more relaxed and process your emotions better.
Managing your anger can be a very difficult task, as you can start to feel like the anger is taking control of you. Fortunately, CBT for anger management can be a very effective way to deal with those underlying emotions in a much healthier way. And with the techniques mentioned above, you and your therapist can easily find a better way for you to process your emotions.