Often clients come to Counselling and speak about want to 'control anger'. I have dealt with many clients with anger issues. The key thing in Counselling which is important is to remember that we do not in fact try to 'control our anger'. Trying to control an emotion is what leads to it becoming trapped and distorted and coming out at points in a way which may not be appropriate. It is important rather to look at the ways we 'manage our emotions' and in particular 'manage our anger'.
Anger is often a frowned upon emotion as seen as something we should control or in some way try to curb. Whereas abuse is always wrong there is nothing wrong with the feeling of anger or any other feeling. Throughout my work with clients working on this issue we often speak of anger to be seen like it is at the start of a hill. If you picture a hill and on one side of the hill there is anger which is absolutely fine. Any feeling of anger is okay, it's healthy and is nothing to be concerned about. An emotion like any other which is to be managed and used constructively. Anger can build however and if not managed well can go up over the hill and down the slippery slope of the other side and turn into abuse which is never okay.
In Counselling sessions we often look at this analogy and then work with the feeling of anger. I often emphasise constantly how the feeling of anger is absolutely fine and encourage clients to bring whatever anger they have to the sessions so we can work with it. Clients often feel enraged and notice how outside of sessions in the real world they are triggered by the smallest things. Exploring the emotions and what these things that trigger them remind them of can be key to getting to the root of the anger and rather than it become our enemy, be our friend we can embrace as part of our lives.
Anger can often be mixed with other strong emotions. Sometimes self therapy exercises such as writing or actual rigorous exercise and keeping an overall healthy balance can help us to keep our emotions well regulated. Through working with our emotions in therapy we can come to a state of greater balance. If we picture someone carrying buckets, one on each side, on a piece of wood over their shoulders. In the case of anger management we are often stumbling around and the water (symbolising our emotions) is pouring out and going all over the place. Through accepting where we are at and that there is an issue with the emotions pouring out and perhaps becoming abusive, we are able to create routines and explore the emotions to become happier and more balanced. Cognitive behavioural therapy can also help here in moving forward to make goals for the future.