I get asked a lot about what happens in my Anger Management sessions. The answer is a difficult one, because every one experiences anger in a different way. Now I am talking about anger, the go-to feeling that most people use when they are having a negative experience of sorts. I am not talking about rage. I am not qualified or experienced in working with rage, but I can able to help my clients identify the difference in themselves, and then refer them onto a psychologist if rage is their predominant experience.
Back to anger management. Do I help people take their anger away? Sometimes. We generally talk about the ways that their anger is interfering with their daily lives, and if this anger has a control-like hold over their lives. The process is different for each client who comes to counselling for anger issues, and each session is likely to be different too.
However, the similarity lies in what anger is for many people. As ironic as it may seem, anger is seen as a ‘safe’ emotion. I call it an umbrella emotion, as we often experience anger instead of other negative emotions, as it does not highlight the perceived negative aspects of being human, but rather motivates us to feel better than the people or situations which are triggering these feelings. In this way, anger is a protective emotion. Instead of highlighting our ‘weaknesses’, such as a sense of failure, rejection, hurt or sadness; anger covers these ‘weaknesses’ up and makes us feel superior.
One of the problems that some people find, is that anger becomes the only negative emotion which they experience. Their emotional experiences are either angry, or happy. But because anger is more of an umbrella emotion that happy, it has a bigger range, and more likely than not, is experienced more often than happiness is.
So, if the above scenario resonates with your personal experience in some way, and you would like to come to me for anger management, what can you expect from the sessions? A safe space to explore what is triggering your anger, and why. It is likely that you will eventually feel a wider range of emotions, both negative and positive. This means that your ability to feel joy and excitement increase too.
Will I take your anger away? Probably not. Will your anger be more manageable, and not take over your life? Possibly. Is it easy? Counselling is different for everybody, but does entail being honest about your vulnerabilities. Once you are comfortable with that, then it becomes easier. Most of my clients report that they experience a difference in their anger reactions after just one session, but I recommend at least four sessions for this difference to be long lasting and effective.