Anger is a normal, healthy emotion which we all experience.
Our member Paul Mollitt says: “It’s not necessarily a bad thing to feel angry. But it can cause a problem if it becomes a default emotion or, the opposite, an emotion that is completely unexpressed.”
Anger can cloud your ability to think clearly, make you act impulsively, make you aggressive and violent towards people or make you distance yourself from others. It can affect your family, personal and professional relationships.
Therapy can help with anger as it gives you a place where you won’t be judged and can express and explore what you are feeling.
What causes anger?
Anger has a variety of causes and may be triggered by completely different situations depending on the person.
You may become angry if you feel threatened or attacked, if you’ve been treated unfairly, if you feel powerless, or if someone is disrespectful towards you.
This may depend on what is currently happening in your life. If you feel under a lot of stress you may find it harder to control your anger.
The cause of your anger may relate back to events in your past or your family history.
When does anger become a problem?
Anger can become a problem if it is left unchecked, says Paul. If it is out of control it can affect your behaviour and may harm you or people around you.
You may not have developed healthy ways to express your anger, leaving you with relationships that might be quite stormy or unhappy. Or you may feel anger instead of other emotions, such as sadness or guilt.
Some people are unable to express anger which can sometimes have a negative impact on their mental or physical health, says Paul.
“People may turn their anger inwards rather than outwards,” he explains. “That can cause a lot of stress, mentally but also in the body, leading to physical health issues or even self-harm.
“It could also increase the likelihood of destructive behaviour such as taking drugs, drinking to excess or taking other risks.”
How to deal with anger
If you know that you’re struggling with anger, there are some things you can do to try to help you cope.
Paul says it’s important to notice when you start to feel angry - what triggers it - so that you can take steps to stop it spiralling out of control.
"A therapist can help you notice when you get that feeling, so you may express it more constructively or remove yourself from the trigger," he says.
Breathing exercises and meditation may help you calm yourself when you feel you’re getting angry.
Paul adds: “It can sometimes help to channel your anger into something more positive and creative or physical. I’ve encouraged many of my clients to redirect their anger into sport – boxing is often a popular choice – or to try writing or art.
“Alongside therapy, these activities can really empower people and help them harness the energy into something more productive. It’s much better to redirect this anger, rather than let it fester or get out of control.”
How counselling can help with anger
“A therapist will listen to your unique experience and, with your help, try to help you to understand your anger,” says Paul.
“You may feel ashamed or guilty about your anger – but they won't judge you for it, it’s human. But perhaps there’s a better way to express yourself.”
He describes how people come to therapy with anger issues, but often there are other issues that need to be spoken about. Once they are discussed, the anger may subside.
”People learn how to explore their anger, its meaning in their lives in the past and the present, and find out the practical ways to express it, redirect it or cope with it,” he says.
You can choose to have counselling through one-to-one or group sessions with a counsellor, or attend group anger management sessions led by a therapist.
“Therapy can give you a safe space to express and understand your anger in a non-judgmental way,” says Paul.
If you have any comments or would like to share your story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
More about anger...
What is counselling?
Find out how counselling works, what therapists do and what happens in a therapy session.
How to find a therapist
How to use the BACP Register and our online therapist directory to find the right counsellor or psychotherapist for you.
Get help for someone else
How to offer support and where to get advice.