Can An Angry Person Change?
While some people aren’t prone to anger, others express it freely and often in an unhealthy way. If your partner doesn’t know how to control their anger and has frequent outbursts, you might feel unsafe in the relationship and worry that they’ll never change.
Is Anger Always Bad?
Anger isn’t necessarily bad and can be a normal reaction to being hurt or disappointed. It can also be helpful as it might motivate you to change the aspect of your life that is the source of your frustration or identify things that don’t serve you.
There are also plenty of healthy ways to express anger, such as writing about your feelings, exercising or drawing the anger. In fact, bottling up negative emotions can make them build up over time and cause even more problems in the future.
The problems arise when a person doesn’t know how to manage anger and expresses it by shouting, breaking things, or even being verbally and physically abusive.
Is It Possible to Learn Anger Management?
Just because your partner has always struggled with controlling their anger doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is doomed and that things will always be the same. However, in order to change patterns of behaviour the person has to commit to it, which is a lot of hard work and requires the right type of therapy.
One of the most common treatment options for anger management issues is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy which helps patients recognise their triggers, understand the link between their thoughts and behaviour, and teaches them better coping skills.
The CBT techniques include:
- Relaxation Techniques – Anger can cause physical changes in your body such as muscle stiffness and increased heart rate, and make you act impulsive. This skill aims to help a person relax their body and gain more control over their actions by making them more grounded before they respond to a trigger.
- Cognitive Restructuring – Perspective matters; the way you interpret a situation determines your reaction. For example, if your date had cancelled and you believe that it’s because they found someone they’re more interested in, you’re more likely to feel hurt and angry than if you accepted that they couldn’t make it because work kept them longer than usual. Thanks to cognitive structuring, a person can learn how to turn assumptions into more realistic beliefs that prevent anger from escalating.
- Problem-solving – People who struggle with anger management let themselves have angry outbursts instead of considering the potential costs of their behaviour. One of the goals of CBT is to teach them to consider how their behaviour might impact their relationships with other people and how viewing a situation differently can be more beneficial.
- Communication skills – Once a person understands how their behaviour impacts others, they’re taught healthier ways of expressing their anger through being assertive. For example, they’re encouraged to let the other person know how their behaviour affected them and avoid accusatory language.
Papers that looked into CBT’s effectiveness found that around 76% of patients experienced a reduction in anger after receiving the treatment.  If you’re interested in this type of therapy, contact My Family Psychologist for a consultation.