Like any other emotion, anger is also a completely normal, vital emotion that is very much a part of healthy living. As quoted by Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who is an expertise in the field of understanding anger; Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage”. As occurs with all other emotions, there also exist various physiological and biological changes occurring concomitantly during the demonstration of anger. The physical changes that are associated with anger are increase in the heart rate and blood pressure, and there is also a substantial increase in the levels of stress hormones- adrenaline and noradrenaline (1).
Are You Too Angry?
Anger can varying in intensity from mild (irritability, frustration) to severe aggression (rage). Anger also be accompanied with angry behaviours like verbal or physical abuse, expression of violence over person or objects thus creating a rift in interpersonal relationships or hindrance to society or at workplace or offends the law. It hence becomes imperative to opt for a psychological therapeutic aid to deal with anger.
It needs to be understood that anger is never a solution to any dispute or a conflict. Uncontrolled anger can prove dangerous for the person himself and also for the people around him. There can be presence of associated other psychological problems like anxiety, depression or substance abuse; all as a cause or as a effect (2).
Anger can be effectively dealt through counselling or psychotherapy. the first step towards anger management is the awareness of getting angry, acknowledging it and at the same time accepting that controlled anger is a part of human nature and it is less harmful if channelized in a proper way (3).
Anger, like all other habits is a pattern of consistent behaviour pattern that develops, evolves and is reinforced when repeated again and again. Evidence study gives a relief stating that such habits can be modified suit the well being of the person (3).
Anger management involves a goal oriented strategy. Following a detailed study the patient, the psychotherapist works out the number of sessions involved, the duration and the frequency (4).
The main agenda of the therapist is to aid in the individuals’ communication in a socially appropriate manner. The triggers of anger need to be identified so that the individual is emotionally prepared. The individuals are made aware about the futility of anger in solving the problem and the irrational thoughts that cloud the mind during an anger episode. The therapist then focuses on teaching the individual the techniques to calm down.
The counselling sessions can be individualized or can be held in a group considering the benefits and what suits the individual the most (4).
Anger management strategy helps the individual identify and rectify the emotional trigger that provokes the anger episode.
Techniques that help in calming the anger episode are-
- Awareness of the self during the episode of anger
- Exercise self control in the form of controlling the impulse.
- Calming the thoughts through meditation, breathing techniques
- Induce relaxation through practice of yoga
- Emotional awareness (4).
The common method used by the psychotherapist for anger management id CBT- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Initially through stress reduction and relaxation programme the individual is helped to instantly bring down the severity of the their anger episode. This greatly helps in reducing the fear, guilt, threat, violation and sense of loss of control involved during at anger episode.
Thereafter, the therapist questions the validity of the negative beliefs or thoughts that the client harbours about self.
CBT also scans the early childhood days to bring up any traumatic issue or concern that might be fuelling the current illness; such as lack of parental love or abusive parents, emotional or physical abuse by the care takers or feelings of low self esteem (5).