Problem anger is a little tricky.
Generally, when a person feel depressed, she feels awful, and she knows it. When a person is anxious, he can feel the tension in his gut, or in tightness in his chest–it’s a stressful burden to live with. When a person’s grief, loneliness or other pain builds to a high enough level, they go for therapy because of the discomfort they feel. They are motivated to go for counselling because it feels so awful to have that feeling be so present inside of them. Anger is a little funny that way. The feeling of anger is often more of a noticeable problem for the people around the person who has anger issues than for the person him/herself. Many of the people that come to us to deal with anger come because their spouse tell them to come, maybe even gives them an ultimatum–“Go for counselling, or I’m gone.” Their kids stop coming over to visit and someone will suggest that they avoid you because of how angry you can get (it’s likely they won’t tell you themselves because they’re worried you will get…you guessed it…angry). The workplace gives a poor job evaluation, and that hurts because you don’t know why they would see you in that light. Yep, a lot of people come to see us for anger issues because someone else has told them they better come. They don’t come for themselves, but because someone else has told them it’s a good idea (or mandated that it’s the ONLY idea). It’s hard to open yourself up to understand your anger and learn new skills to deal with it when someone else has talked or forced you into it. However, the research on the results of anger on one’s health is grim…increased rates of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, ulcers, autoimmune disorders and so on. The cost to emotional health is grim too–often people with anger that is destructive don’t even realize how much of life they are missing out on as people pull away and keep their distance.
People don’t become angry in a destructive way without a reason. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Counselling can work with a client to help a person understand what the barriers are that prevent healthy and safe ways of expressing oneself that enhance relationships, and create “win/win” outcomes. It’s so possible to make changes in your life.
Carolyn Klassen talks about what is underneath anger using the picture of “an anger iceberg”.
If a friend or spouse pulls you over to read this page, know they do so because they care about you and want the best for you and the relationship you have together. Take this not as an opportunity to defend yourself or disagree, but to ask questions to hear what their perception is. It could be really informative, and could be the first step to making changes in a positive direction that you didn’t even know existed. Many people choose the group anger management course. For some who work better in an individual environment, the individual Transforming Destructive into Constructive–TDC program is preferable…perhaps because English is not their first language and extra time is needed for clarification, or there are scheduling issues. While some choose the 4 hour TDC course (and may choose extra sessions after that), others choose to attend traditional counselling with anger being one of the foci.