Some of my first therapist-in-training as a student was with a group for perpetrators of domestic violence. I really enjoyed these groups, and hopefully the clients did too.
All of us have been angry at times, so the information shared in these groups was something most of us could relate to.
One of the things we taught in this class was that anger was not a “primary emotion”. Meaning there is typically another emotion underlying the anger (i.e. embarrassment, fear, anxiety, jealousy, etc.) I say “typically” for a reason. In class we taught that there was ALWAYS something underlying the anger, and it was our job to figure out what was the underlying emotion and then deal with that. This is still very valuable information, but I also felt that it was a little too absolute. I had been angry plenty in my life. I don’t know why I’d been angry so often at this point in my life (I’ve found over time that it has decreased significantly). I have a distinct memory of driving down a particular road – at that time there were no other cars on the road. I hadn’t been thinking of anything specific, and didn’t have anything major going on in my life – but I noticed that I just felt angry. As I recognized the feeling, it was followed by a question, “WHY???” I didn’t have an answer.
I have found that it really can be helpful to look at what is underneath anger (the majority of the time). Dealing with the emotions when they are smaller and more manageable is ideal obviously, but sometimes people need tools to help release unwanted negative emotions. I help clients with this. I also work with clients who sometimes don’t see a reason for their anger but still need to manage it. I have found mindfulness to be very helpful in both of these situations, and usually combine the practice with some cognitive behavioral strategies and other tools as well.
I offer clients the option of working session by session, or working in a program format. I prefer to work in a program format, to organize and maximize my efforts to serve you best, but I go by client preferences in this regard.
My goal is to help you develop some good habits that you can keep going after your therapy experience, and that you will leave feeling confident in your ability to calm yourself!
Everyone has their own complex story of anger. During your initial phone consultation we’ll look at your history and I’ll give you some tools you can use right away to deal with anger. As we spend time together in therapy we will fine tune assignments and tailor methods to best suit your personal needs to overcome your challenges. If you are looking for help in overcoming anger, please schedule an appointment with me today.
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