Therapy in San Francisco

Licensed Psychotherapist

870 Market Street, Suite 1021
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 680-0180

Psychotherapy and Counseling
for Individuals and Couples

Therapy for Anger Management

"Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned"
-- Buddha

This is not to say that having anger is bad. In fact, the feeling of anger can actually be quite helpful. Anger is a natural human emotion which all people have the capacity to experience. Anger is neither good nor bad -- it is simply a feeling. However, how we choose to respond or behave when we feel angry can be constructive or destructive.

Anger is like a flashing red signal that can let you know something is upsetting you. However, if your anger signal is flashing too often or haphazardly, then it bears looking at your anger more closely.

Every day we are invited to engage in multiple situations that could end in angry outcomes and we can choose not to attend. For some people, it may not feel like you have a choice not to attend, but you really do. Therapy can help you discover other ways of responding to your feelings of anger.

It also could be that you don't notice your anger signal flashing at all or maybe you notice it flashing but choose to ignore your feelings, thinking it will go away. Both of these are equally as dangerous.

Whether you are in denial about feeling anger, hold onto your anger without dealing with what is upsetting you, or if you act out your anger in aggressive or passive-aggressive ways, it can lead to numerous difficulties. Some of these include: relationship problems, such as regrets over uncontrolled behaviors and/or resentments from not speaking up; physical issues such as muscle tension, headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure and heart attacks; emotional issues such as guilt, remorse, depression and substance abuse or dependence.

I have extensive experience leading anger management groups and I have helped numerous people in individual and couples therapy learn to mange their anger in healthy, productive ways.

An example of how I may address and treat your anger difficulties is as follows:

  • The first step is admitting or recognizing your anger management difficulties. Sometimes people come to therapy to specifically address anger management issues, however, many times people come to therapy for other concerns and we discover together that we need to look at their feelings of anger as contributing to their issues.
  • Next we will explore your family background to see what messages you have learned overtly and covertly about anger. Were you taught that anger is bad and so you suppressed your feelings? Were you taught by example to yell and hit when angry? Were you taught to turn the other cheek and end up neglecting yourself? Were you taught that you caused your parents to be angry, so you were to blame for their loss of control? Everyone's story and resulting beliefs around anger is different and all contribute significantly to anger expression and management.
  • We will explore the feelings underneath your anger, which are often hidden, as anger can take up a lot of space. For example, many times people have unresolved grief/loss issues and end up being angry all the time, when actually they are covering up depression.
  • We will explore your anger triggers so you can get a head start at managing your feelings. Knowing your specific triggers, which are often rooted in childhood experiences or unmet needs, will allow you to be better prepared for recognizing your anger when it surfaces. For example, a person who was raised with a parent who didn't pay attention to him/her may be deeply triggered when their partner or friend or co-worker doesn't listen when they speak.
  • We will develop a plan, with useful practical skills to help you break your current anger habits. Some of these skills will include learning or reinforcing common anger management tools such as relaxation methods, distraction methods, assertiveness training, and reading/homework materials. We will also develop a plan to address and heal your specific underlying issues by exploring your unique history and resulting thoughts and perceptions.

One of the most important, empowering things you can do for yourself is to take control of your situation and reach out for help. Please call me and we can talk to see if you would like to make an appointment and begin to make positive changes in your life. You don't have to suffer alone. Help is available.