It’s well known that feelings of anger can have a negative impact on a client’s health and relationships. Research shows that lingering and chronic anger are associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke, can weaken immune response, and can even lead to reduced life expectancy (Strong, D.). As a result, some clients might believe that to truly be content, they should avoid experiencing negative emotions altogether. However, while this might appear to be a healthy objective, trained counsellors know that avoiding and denying the presence of anger can do more harm than good (Shpancer, N. Ph.D., 2010).
If the presence of unchecked anger is detrimental and the denial of anger is also unhealthy, then how are clients to handle this powerful emotion? The answer lies between both extremes. Anger is best managed when clients have the tools to recognize their feelings and channel them in a way that is constructive. Here is why this approach is so important, and how counsellors can equip their clients with the tools necessary to manage feelings of anger.
Helping Clients Recognize Feelings of Anger After Counsellor Training
Clients can feel angry for a number of different reasons. They might feel stress about a challenging situation, and as a result snap at a loved one over a perceived slight. Or they might feel small and powerless in the face of a negative event, and use anger to regain a sense of power and control (Lickerman, A. M.D., 2013). In some cases, a client might also become angry when faced with an injustice (Lickerman, A. M.D., 2013). In each of these circumstances, clients might not always realize why they are feeling angry, or that they are even feeling anger in the first place.
Encouraging clients to express their feelings accurately and appropriately can help with the healing process. This approach can also help clients to reframe how they perceive their negative emotions. Clients can view their anger as an important source of information, which they can examine in order to decide on an appropriate response for their particular circumstance (Shpancer, N. Ph.D., 2010). Graduates of counsellor training can thus teach their clients that “When you express how you really feel (in an appropriate manner), problems get solved, relationship issues get resolved, and life is easier” (Goldsmith, B., 2013).
Professionals with Counsellor Training Can Assist Clients Healing from Trauma
Sometimes, feelings of anger could be a manifestation of a deeper underlying issue. Individuals who have experienced unresolved trauma at some point in their lives can often feel anger (National Center for PTSD., n.d.). If this is the case, addressing this past trauma can help clients examine the root causes of their emotions and heal from these wounds.
The best counsellor therapist training programs include instruction specific to assisting individuals who have experienced trauma. At Rhodes Wellness College, for instance, students of counselling can learn approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy and body based trauma therapy, which can help clients unpack any experiences of abuse they may have had in the past.
Physical Wellness Techniques Can Be an Excellent Tool for Defusing Anger
When the best counsellors advise clients on how to defuse their anger, they often turn to physical exercise. Research shows that regular “physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry.” (Mayo Clinic). However, according to recent studies, partaking in intense physical activity while angry can actually increase a client’s risk of heart attack (CBC, 2016). For this reason, exercise is best used as a preventative tool to be employed regularly, rather than a quick fix to a pressing problem.
Activities that calm the body—such as deep breathing, which reduces heart rate and blood pressure—can help defuse anger in the heat of the moment (American Psychological Association). Counsellors can recommend these types of practices, teaching their clients to employ focused breathing, yoga, or another calming activity when feeling angry. By helping clients channel their energy, counsellors can equip them with the tools necessary to learn and grow from negative emotions rather than simply react.
Do you want to become a counsellor and help clients address their emotions in a positive manner?
Contact Rhodes Wellness College for more information about our programs!
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Strategies for controlling your anger. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/controlling-anger.aspx
CBC (2016, October 11) Exercise, anger may trigger heart attacks: McMaster study. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/exercise-anger-may-trigger-heart-attacks-mcmaster-study-1.3799505
Goldsmith, B. (2013, November 4). Don’t Bury Your Feelings. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201311/dont-bury-your-feelings
Hrustic, A. (2017, April 7). 7 Surprising Signs of Depression that Prove It’s Not All About Sadness. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www.menshealth.com/health/symptoms-of-depression-in-men
Lickerman, A. M.D. (2013, November 10) Dealing With Anger. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201311/dealing-anger
Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434
National Center for PTSD. (n.d.). Anger and Trauma. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/problems/anger-and-trauma.asp
Shpancer, N. Ph.D. (2010, September 8). Emotional Acceptance: Why Feeling Bad is Good. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201009/emotional-acceptance-why-feeling-bad-is-good
Strong, D. (n.d.). 7 Ways Anger Is Ruining Your Health. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/ways-anger-ruining-your-health/
Virtual Medical Centre. (n.d.). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults (adult ADHD). Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www.myvmc.com/diseases/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-in-adults-adult-adhd/