Anger: Kassinove and Sukhodolsky (1995) defined anger as a felt emotional state. This private state varies in intensity and duration, as well as frequency, and is associated with cognitive distortions, verbal and motor behaviours, and patterns of physical arousal. Although anger may emerge spontaneously, another person is typically seen as the cause of anger. And it usually includes a perception of blameworthiness.

Anger is not a form of aggression, and most often does not lead to aggression! Rather it is a felt experience that typically follows unwanted, aversive interactions with close friends, colleagues, and family members. Although anger is common, and sometimes useful, it can become an independent problem with many negative consequences, requiring treatment in the context of individuals, couples, or family therapy in private practice or institutional settings.”(Kassinove & Tafrate, 2002, p.12)

Anger is not aggression, hostility or violence (although these may result from the experience of anger), rather anger is an internal event, a feeling, a physiological reaction. For this reason, some clients may find it challenging to articulate their experience. ‘Feeling angry’ can manifest in a variety of ways. Two clients may state that they feel angry, yet the variation between their experiences may be as broad as the intensity difference between mild irritation and frenzied rage.

For this reason, it can be a valuable idea to establish an anger vocabulary early on in the process of counselling for anger management. Kassinove and Tafrate (2002) suggest the use of an anger thermometer?when attempting to establish a common language between practitioner and client . A thermometer (more about it in the next post) such as this can help to build a mutually recognised range of descriptors that promote shared meaning in discussions focused on anger experiences.

In this?post series,?we’ll explore the strategies and skills that counsellors use when engaged in Anger Management sessions.

Follow-Up Posts:

  1. Using the Anger Thermometer
  2. The Anger Episode Model
  3. Anger Management Strategy: Record the Episode
  4. Anger Management Strategy: Challenge Thoughts
  5. Anger Management Strategy: Self-Calming
  6. Anger Management Strategy: Relaxation