Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Services
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Anger is an emotion that is generally experienced in response to frustration, a threat to our self esteem or when someone disobeys one of our rules for living e.g. 'people should not be rude'. It is both normal and healthy to respond to certain situations with anger. It could be argued that anger serves a positive purpose in some situations. For example, anger discourages others from behaving in ways that we do not want and it provides us with the motivation to do the things that we would not otherwise do. After all, anger is what has fuelled some of the world's great protests to injustice, and has helped shape some powerful political decisions for change. It is how we express anger that makes it healthy or unhealthy for us.

The things that trigger our anger will be very unique to the individual and can range from other people's behaviour, doing something ourselves that we are disappointed in, injustice and bereavement. What angers one person is unlikely to anger another in the same way. This is because of the basic beliefs we have developed over the years about how people should and should not behave, how the world should be and how we compare to other people.

What is Unhealthy Anger?

Anger becomes unhelpful to us when we begin to overestimate or make assumptions about the extent to which the person who has upset us has acted intentionally. We begin to see malicious intent in the unreasonable behaviour of others and see ourselves as definitely correct in our reactions and the other person as definitely incorrect in their initial actions towards us. We can become closed off to accepting an alternative to any other point of view but our own and sometimes will plot revenge or demand that the person/thing that we are angry with be punished!

In unhealthy anger our behaviour can be both damaging to ourselves and to others. We might attack people physically or verbally or we might take our anger out on an innocent victim, just so we can vent off some steam. We might even try to get other people on our side in an attempt to win an argument.

Unhealthy anger leaves us open to criticism and to feelings of guilt and low self esteem following our angry outbursts, which is why unhealthy anger needs to be managed in the long term.

What is Healthy Anger?

Healthy anger is much better for us in that our thinking and behaviour is not overly damaging to us or to others. When we are healthily angry are able to express our needs without intending to damage the needs of others, and simply request, but not demand, that others change their unacceptable behaviour towards us. We are also more likely to get what we want by being this way.

Why Does My Body React In This Way When I Am Angry?

Our bodies are designed to protect us so that we can continue to procreate and survive as a species. If we perceive a threat, our bodies will gear us up to either fight this threat or to run away from it. At this point Adrenalin is released from our brains, which gets our hearts pumping faster and pumping blood around in the stomach and out to the muscles in our limbs (which help us to fight and run). Unfortunately this archaic system cannot decipher between what is really a threat and what is an irrational response. This explains why people experience sweaty palms, butterflies in their stomach and a feeling of heat in response to anger.

How Can I Change?

A cognitive behavioural therapist (please visit for more information about CBT) will help you to firstly assess how your anger helps and hinders you. Secondly they will help you to understand what triggers your anger, so that you can pre-empt anger provoking situations and assess what beliefs/thoughts drive your anger. You and your therapist will work together to develop an understanding of your patterns of anger and your thoughts and behaviours that are generated by different triggers. This is usually done by encouraging you to keep an anger diary. Later sessions will focus on helping you to challenge your thinking and work on different, more helpful behavioural responses to your anger. Visit your GP for details about how to access counselling.

Getting Help

Visit your GP for a referral to a counsellor, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist or group therapy/support (if available). If your anger is affecting you and others adversely, your GP may want to explore the option of medication with you. Anger often co-exists with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, so you might want to mention this to your GP if you are experiencing any other symptoms of distress. If you do not like the idea of therapy at this time, or whilst you are waiting for therapy you can try reading the following books:

  • Overcoming Anger and Irritability by William Davies
  • The Incredible Sulk by Windy Dryden
  • Calm Down: How to Control Frustration and Anger by Paul A. Hauck
*Please remember, nobody is out to judge you or your angry outbursts. They are likely to be causing you as much damage as they are other people, so do not suffer in silence, get some help!
understanding anger
understanding bereavement
understanding depression
understanding sleep disturbance

Essex CBT Therapy offer counselling services throughout London & the following areas in Essex

Abridge | Althorne | Arkesden | Aveley | Barking | Basildon | Benfleet | Billericay | Bishops Stortford | Blackmore End | Boreham | Bradwell-on-Sea | Braintree | Brantham | Brentwood | Brightlingsea | Broxted | Buckhurst Hill | Bulphan | Burnham-on-Crouch | Canewdon | Canvey Island | Castle Hedingham | Cattawade | Chafford Hundred | Chappel | Chelmsford | Cheltenham | Chigwell | Chingford | Clacton-on-Sea | Clavering | Coggeshall | Colchester | Countywide | Crays Hill | Dagenham | Danbury | Debden | Dedham | Doddinghurst | Dovercourt | Dunmow | Earls Colne | East Bergholt | Elm Park | Elmdon | Elmstead | Elsenham | Epping | Feering | Felsted | Finchingfield | Fingringhoe | Frinton-On-Sea | Fyfield | Gestingthorpe | Gosfield | Grays | Great Baddow | Great Bardfield | Great Braxted | Great Chesterford | Great Dunmow | Great Easton | Great Saling | Great Totham | Great Waltham | Great Yeldham | Hadleigh | Halstead | Harlow | Harwich | Hatfield Peverel | Herongate | Heybridge | Heybridge Basin | High Roding | Hinxton | Hornchurch | Horndon on the Hill | Horsley Cross | Ickleton | Ilford | Ingatestone | Ingrave | Kelvedon | Kelvedon Hatch | Laindon | Langham | Latchingdon | Leigh-on-Sea | Little Braxted | Little Canfield | Little Clacton | Little Dunmow | Little Easton | Little Maplestead | Little Waltham | Little Warley | Loughton | Maldon | Manningtree | Margaretting | Matching Green | Mersea Island | Minchinhampton | Mistley | Moreton | Mountnessing | Mundon | Navestockside | Nazeing | North Fambridge | Old Harlow | Ongar | Orsett | Paglesham | Panfield | Pattiswick | Pebmarsh | Pitsea | Purfleet | Purleigh | Radwinter | Rainham | Rayleigh | Rochford | Romford | Rowhedge | Roxwell | Roydon | Saffron Walden | Shalford | Shenfield | South Benfleet | South Ockendon | South Woodham Ferrers | Southend | Southminster | St Osyth | Stanford-le-Hope | Stansted | Stansted Mountfitchet | Stapleford Abbotts | Stock | Sudbury | Thaxted | Theydon Bois | Thornwood | Thorpe le Soken | Tilbury | Tillingham | Tollesbury | Toot Hill | Upminster | Vange | Waltham Abbey | Waltham Cross | Walthamstow | Walton on the Naze | Warley | Weeley | Wendens Ambo | West Thurrock | Westcliff on Sea | Wethersfield | White Notley | Wickford | Wickham Bishops | Witham | Wivenhoe | Woodford | Woodford Bridge | Woodford Green | Woodham Mortimer | Woodham Walter | Youngs End

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