Anger management therapy - one client's story
Most people seek out treatment for anger management because something happens in their personal life that tells them that there is a real issue with their anger. Or it can be mandated by a court of law or by an employer.
In many cases, people who seek treatment for anger management issues know that they have problems with anger, even if they do not want to acknowledge it outwardly. Anger issues can affect just about all aspects of life, including relationships, our ability to function consciously and clearly and our ability to make rational and logical decisions.
Counselling for anger management can take place as both individual one-on-one therapy or in group settings. It can also be either long term, where there is an opportunity to examine our anger in depth, or short term, where we learn how to identify when we are feeling anger and the triggers to getting angry. No matter what approach is taken with anger management, most often the goal is to reduce out of control feelings of anger and angry outbursts.
On this page you can go on and read one client’s experience with anger and how they used anger management counselling to regain control. You can also read our general overview of anger management counselling, about anger and alcohol, our anger management tips.
Reggie is in his late 50s. He seems to be angry at life. His wife died five years ago and his children spend little time with him now that she is gone. Reggie does not really understand why he is so alone at this point in his life, but he does know that he is angry about it.
Reggie has a large problem with anger. He yells and screams at his assistant when she makes small mistakes. He is a manager at a medium-sized financial consulting firm and he expects perfection from his employees. They cringe when the realize they have made a mistake and he calls them into his office. The final straw came when Reggie had an out-of-control outburst and his assistant ran from his office crying. Reggie’s own manager happened to be walking past his office and had stopped to listen to the confrontation. Within a matter of hours, Reggie had his own confrontation with his manager and was told that he had to get anger management counselling if he wanted to keep his job. They offered to pay for the counselling through their employee assistance program, provided that he finished the entire course of counselling.
Reggie stopped to think carefully before he accepted. Although he did not want to admit it, his own doctor had warned him that his problems with anger, combined with high blood pressure, could lead to a stroke. Although he was miserable in his life at this point, he did not want to die or risk being unable to take care of himself just because he could not control his feelings of anger. So he accepted his employer’s demand and called the therapist they had recommended.
When he arrived for his first appointment, Reggie had expected the therapist to be a long haired hippie-type, but instead was pleasantly surprised to find a middle aged woman who was conservatively dressed who greeted him. She introduced herself as Melissa and invited him into her office. She carefully explained the process of short term therapy and her confidentiality policy. Reggie was relieved to find out that she would not be revealing the details of their sessions to his employer, but instead only reported that he had attended the counselling sessions.
Melissa asked Reggie to explain why he was seeking treatment and what had triggered his anger that day. As he explained Reggie began to realize that he really did not know precisely what had made him so angry that morning, only that he was so angry that he felt like his head was going to explode. Melissa nodded with understanding and prompted him to continue talking and just tell her what he was thinking and anything else that might relate to his angry outbursts. With time, Reggie began to relax. He was quite relieved that the therapist wanted to hear his story and did not seem interested in lecturing him about his bad behaviour.
Over the course of the next several weeks, Melissa worked with Reggie on what it feels like to be angry. She provided him with educational materials about what happens biologically in the body when we become angry and how it affects blood pressure, heart rate and the “fight or flight” instinctual response. She also helped Reggie identify what his response was to those biological urges when he became angry.
Melissa also assigned homework for Reggie to complete between sessions. She asked him to keep a log of every time he became angry for a week. Reggie was unpleasantly surprised to discover that he got angry almost every day and usually several times each day. Although he knew he had a problem, he had not thought it was all that bad. Now he had it facing him in black and white.
As Melissa helped Reggie become more self aware, he began to change his reactions when he became angry. She taught him alternative behaviours that were more healthy for him and for the person he was angry at. She taught him how to be responsible for his own feelings by using “I” statements that identified his feelings to the person he was talking to. She also talked him him about the difference between being aggressive and being assertive.
At the end of eight weeks of treatment, Reggie had completed the anger management program required by his employer. Melissa invited Reggie to continue longer term counselling if he wanted to gain a better understanding of the underlying reasons for his ongoing anger issues. Reggie agreed that if he was going to regain any type of relationship with his children, he was going to have to be able to examine and understand why he had been so angry for so long. He agreed to continue seeing Reggie for an undetermined amount of time so that he could understand himself better.
How counselling helped?
Reggie was under mandate from his employer to attend anger management counselling so that he could perform his job and related better to his coworkers. Although Reggie realized he had a problem, he had not recognized the depth of the problem until he attended the anger management counselling. Counselling helped him begin to understand how anger affected his body and his reactions to other people. Additionally, he was able to learn how to identify when he was getting angry and engage in alternative behaviours that were healthier for everyone involved.
Seeking help for anger issues
If you or someone you care about has issues with anger, you or they may benefit from consulting with a professionally trained counsellor, therapist or psychologist. If you would like more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Associated Counselors & Psychologists Sydney.
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