Anger Management | Behavior Change and Self Regulation

Anger Management:
Behavior Change and Self Regulation

Seattle Anger Management Counseling

An Acceptance Commitment Therapy Perspective

Raise your words, not voice.
It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.

Anger can be a healthy, constructive, and sometimes necessary emotional response. Emotions like anger or panic can be viewed as psychological “signal-cues” that function to support survival by prompting self-protective behavior. However, angry conduct can also be extremely maladaptive, counterproductive, excessive, destructive, and abusive. Pathological anger is characterized by an inability to maintain behavioral control or to moderate the impulse to act-out.

Angry Woman

Cognitive Behavioral Counseling: Learn Functional Coping Skills for the Management of Your Furious Reactions

Unbridled anger, or rage, is frequently associated with hostile actions that prove ineffective in resolving conflict, inducing more frustration and ultimately resulting in harm. Such actions are frequently maladaptive because they serve to compromise personal and interpersonal functioning. Acting-out in rage can do irreparable damage to relationships, place lives and property in danger, and result in a host of unwanted outcomes. Too frequently, rage leads to unwanted outcomes, or even arrest and incarceration if domestic violence ensues. If this sounds all too familiar, you might consider some form of help with anger management. First and foremost this involves modifying your actions!

Managing Intense Emotions and Acceptance of Distress

The human experience we call “anger,” involves a complex psycho-physiological response that is accompanied by increases in heart rate and blood pressure that can become medically dangerous. Stress, frustration, and aggravation are natural responses to the complexities of living.

Emotional responses like this are largely involuntary (rather reflexive in nature) and can be as unwanted and alarming to the person feeling the response, as they are disturbing to those around them. Anger management counseling can help to moderate angry actions by modifying distress through the teaching of alternative coping skills. By learning to manage angry feelings, or to accept and tolerate our distress, we can come to master the links of the psychological chain that leads to angry acting out.

Learning to Manage Angry Behavior

The first step to learning to manage angry feelings is often to come to recognize (philosophically) emotions as “signal-cues” that should function to guide adaptive choices and support functional goal-directed behaviors. Because the internal experience of anger is largely an involuntary response, one rooted in the body’s biochemical response to stress, the angry person may not clearly recognize (with clarity and awareness) what is happening. Stress produces a whole of host of physiological responses (e.g. the hormonal release of adrenaline and noradrenalin) that are directly linked to primitive fight or flight responses.

Learning to manage angry behavior requires that we become willing to accept and tolerate the sensations associated with our emotions and that we allow the experience of psychological distress — without impulsively acting out. Cognitive therapy, behavioral rehearsal, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), role-playing, guided visualization, therapeutic metaphor, and various forms of insight meditation can all help to resolve problems associated with anger. Different techniques work for different people.

Dr. Hart will help you discover what works best for you. You can learn the skills necessary for vital living and adaptation in this frequently chaotic world. A provocative question: Just how aware are you of the associations between what you call your anger – and what you call your fear?

Expressing and Managing Intense Emotions Effectively

Often the best way to manage an intense emotion is to learn to regulate its behavioral expression. This DOES NOT mean totally withholding or containing our internal experience of anger or the blanket refusal to express this feeling at all. The suppression of anger and frustration seems ultimately to lead people to proverbially “blow their stack.” Too frequently, emotional impulses are directed toward someone or something other than the real object of the anger. This type of counseling is an effective means to beginning the process of learning to communicate effectively and to negotiate our best interests without resorting to maladaptive rage.

A significant portion of this process is learning to effectively distinguish maladaptive aggressive behavior from functional self-assertiveness. We all know the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” but sometimes being overly nice can be just as non-productive as failing to let our feelings inform us. Sometimes the situation requires measured forcefulness and often people with anger issues are simply going too far with the expression of their emotions. Counseling can provide tools for enhanced awareness, recognition of the need for assertiveness, and for preventing aggressive impulses from mobilizing outright rage-driven destructive behavior.

Managing Intense Emotions
Through Cognitive Behavioral Counseling

Counseling for anger has everything to do with identifying and modifying problematic behavior. We learn to step out of the battle with our emotions, rather than get caught-up in a futile struggle with emotional control. The goal of good counseling is not to eliminate anger. Remember, anger can be both necessary and productive if expressed in an appropriate way. The goal of good counseling is to teach you awareness and self-regulation techniques so that rage does not drive inappropriate or abusive behavioral responses that can defeat your life and your relationships.

Not everybody who experiences rage has an unbridled tendency to act out in destructive ways. Frequently life finds us in distressing psycho-social contexts and the reality of unwanted circumstances can make even the most level-headed person feel trapped, powerless, frustrated — and furious. Anger management requires rehearsal to master acting-out behaviors.

If it seems that you are overwhelmed by anger and it is making life more difficult for you, or someone you love, therapy can help by providing change strategies and functional coping solutions. The experience of life frustrations and disturbing emotions does not have to define your behavior or derail the wellbeing of those around you. Effective cognitive behavioral solutions can be readily learned to resolve your problems.

Dr. Hart helps people come to grips with distressing emotions like anger, anxiety, and panic. Call to schedule a time to explore your options. Learn to recognize, channel, or diffuse these emotions before they estrange you from others — and hide the best in you!

Patrick J. Hart Psy.D.

Consultation by Telephone:
206-547-HELP (4357) Assessment and Counseling



A belligerent samurai once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell.

The clever and reverent monk replied with scorn, “You’re nothing but a lout – I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!”

His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled, “I could kill you for your impertinence.”

That, the monk calmly replied, is hell.

Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.

“And that,”  said the monk, “is heaven.”


Skills Based Behavioral Psychotherapy
Anger Management |  When Your Moods Seem to be Manageing You . . .