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Treating Anger in London

Efficacy’s Cognitive Behavioural therapists, based in centres across London & Sevenoaks & Sevenoaks, are experts and highly training in delivering CBT treatments to help you overcome anger problems.

Anger is a natural emotion. It is nature’s way of telling us that something in our lives has gone wrong. Anger occurs as a defensive response to a perceived attack or threat to our well-being. In addition to psychological changes, like any emotion, anger is accompanied by physiological changes. When you get angry your adrenaline flows, your heart rate increases, and your blood pressure escalates. In primitive society, this emotion served to protect us. However, in most instances today we are not fighting off a threat or running away from one and so anger is a more redundant emotion than helpful. Anger can be positive as it can make us become more assertive and allow us to stand up for ourselves and it can help us express tension and energise us and help us feel in control. It has negative effects when it is used too frequently, when it leads to aggression, when it is too intense, when it disrupts relationships and when it dictates the way we feel all of the time.

Common Features

Usually anger is the result of a situation where a person’s goals or roles are thwarted and/or they feel threatened in some way. The emotional response to any of these can be to feel anger.

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
– Aristotle

Anger is a normal human emotion, but it is only useful if we are in a true position of danger or threat in some way. In today’s society, life stressors can cause irritation and anger almost daily. However, in the vast majority of times, expressing the emotion of anger can actually be harmful to us rather than protect us. The expression of extreme anger is vilified by society and if expressed often and with lack of control, can cause us to lose our friends, our jobs or even our freedom.

Treatment Options

Learning to control anger is a developmental skill. The frontal cortex which is the part of the brain that controls the ability to inhibit impulses takes about twenty years to develop fully. From a developmental perspective younger children display no ability to control their anger and aggression and they will fight to achieve what they want. By the time they reach school age most children can control their impulses. People who are never able to control their impulses, are like children stuck in the “terrible two’s” and usually act aggressively out of fear and frustration due to a goal or a role being thwarted. It is common that society responds to a learning error with a teaching solution. However, a behavioural error is usually responded to moralistically. In fact, behavioural errors are an inevitable part of learning how to behave and are developmental. The emphasis should be placed on teaching new skills and in guiding behaviour in a positive direction.

In CBT, the therapist and client work together to identify and change negative thinking and behaviour patterns that may contribute to emotional distress. The focus in therapy is to alter and change these thoughts or self-talks which express one’s beliefs and perceptions. Cognitive approaches focus on replacing one thought, belief, or form of self-talk with another. Therapy also focuses on teaching the client more balanced ways of thinking about and coping with life events and relationships. There are a number of specific CBT interventions used for the treatment of anger. These include:

Relaxation Techniques – learning to control your breathing. When we become angry our breath becomes shallow and we breathe in more than we breathe out. The therapist teaches the client to control their breathing, taking smaller breaths in and longer breaths out.

Cognitive Restructuring – Anger has some positive and some negative functions and is an emotional reaction to a set of circumstances and triggers and these are known as provocation. The triggers can be external or internal. The internal triggers we have control of, as these are our thoughts and the other internal trigger we can control is our physical reaction to a situation. How we interpret an external trigger can either make us angry or calm us down. A person may not have any control over external triggers, but can control how they think about them and react to them. CBT can help us to re-script our internal dialogue, by identifying thoughts which cause intense emotion with “cold thoughts” that do not.

Assessing goals and how to attain them – when a goal is thwarted a person can become angry. Addressing goals in therapy and how to achieve them can alleviate distress.

Time out strategies – teaches us to remove ourselves from a potentially explosive situations.

Problem solving – We first need to recognise that a problem exists. Once identified, solutions are brainstormed and the solutions are then evaluated and a plan of action agreed. These action plans are then re-evaluated later to see if the plan is working or not.

Social Skills training – Very often, those that lack social skills can sabotage their efforts through inappropriate behaviour and responses.

Assertiveness Training and Conflict Resolution – Being assertive is positive, whilst being aggressive in most social situations is counter-productive. Learning to change angry behaviour into the more acceptable assertive behaviour can be very helpful and the teaching of negotiation skills in conflict resolution is also invaluable. Those that find it difficult to negotiate often resort to anger. These skills will allow a person to be heard, understood and empowered.

Evidence Base

Cognitive behavioural therapy is an evidence based form of psychotherapy that is structured and goal oriented. It was initially developed for the treatment of depression, but has been successfully adapted for the treatment of a wide range of issues, including anxiety, social skills deficits, and anger management.

If you would like to find out more or book an assessment in London then call on the number below or complete the online contact form.

Telephone: 020 7929 7911