Anger Management

Anger Management Ottawa

Helping you go straight to the source of your anger.

We all occasionally experience anger, and like all feelings it arises for a reason. Some forms of anger are adaptive. However, for some, anger seems to take on a life of its own and they experience periods of sustained anger and regular angry outbursts. Anger management therapy can help you regain control.

Primary Anger

Sometimes anger is helpful and can provide us with an important source of information. Anger tells us when a personal boundary has been violated and helps us set appropriate limits on the overly demanding, intrusive or critical behaviour of another. Anger also helps us recognize when we are overstepping our own boundaries and sacrificing our needs in favour of doing or giving too much. These are examples of primary anger and are not something we generally want to limit, as this type of anger enables us to protect ourselves and recognize and assert our rights and needs. While occasional anger can be helpful, regular angry outbursts carry a high emotional and physical cost, damaging both the body and relationships.

Physical Effects of Anger

Sustained anger exposes the body to a constant state of stress. This type of anger has been linked to heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers and immune system deficits. Anger management therapy can decrease levels of unhealthy anger and help to prevent these consequences.

Anger’s Effects on Relationships

While anger can be a temporarily effective way to influence others’ behaviour, each angry outburst cuts into the fabric of the relationship increasing distance, breeding fear and resistance in others and feeding into a toxic pattern that can permanently erode relationships.Individuals prone to anger are often avoided and are more likely to have limited social support. Hostile attitudes make it more difficult to recognize and value the social connections that remain. Angry people are more likely to experience loneliness and depression.

Anger and Memory

Our memory systems are constantly at work helping us interpret what we are experiencing and we cannot look at the world without them. Memory is made to process new experiences, keeping the useful pieces for storage and discarding the rest. For example in a disagreement with a colleague at work you may feel angry. You might notice your heart rate is quicker and there is tension in your back or an unpleasant feeling in your stomach. You might be thinking negative thoughts about yourself or the other person. Over time, as this memory is processed fully, a piece of information about your colleague’s inflexibility is stored and the unpleasant thoughts, body sensations and feelings are discarded. Eventually, when you think about the memory you feel neutral but you have access to new information on how best to deal with your colleague.

Unfortunately, the nature of some negative experiences can cause this processing to get stuck causing the memories to be stored in their original form with all of the negative thoughts, emotions and body sensations still attached. Let’s use the example of a 7 year old humiliated by a teacher who feels justifiably and adaptively furious as a result of this attack. This memory, when unprocessed, can be triggered by day-to-day events that in some way resemble the original situation bringing with it the original fury. As we have already seen anger can be adaptive when we are being threatened in some way. The system breaks down when anger is continually mobilized to deal with a threat that is no longer there. The person generally doesn’t realize that these emotions are attached to unprocessed memories or that they have been activated. The difficulty arises because the angry reaction is not voluntary and may feel outside of their control.

Anger Management Therapy

Traditional anger management therapy often assumes that we create anger in ourselves with the types of thoughts we think. It requires us to become aware of our thoughts and then choose to think differently. This is extremely difficult, time consuming and often is not effective because these reactions are generally not voluntary but arise due to the triggering of an unprocessed memory or memories. EMDR anger management therapy involves going straight to the source of the anger. That is, identifying and reprocessing the memories responsible. No arduous homework, no learning to think new thoughts. It is a process where the anger provoking memories are stripped of their negative content so that they can be stored adaptively and no longer triggered. Fewer unprocessed memories…less over-reactive anger.

I would be happy to speak with you by phone or email to answer any questions you may have. Contact me

For more information on EMDR therapy