In my psychotherapy practice I often see men who are referred to me by their wives or by therapists who are seeing couples and feel the “male” is in need of anger management.
Sometimes, the male is in complete agreement and at other times, they are reluctant participants. Using a cognitive behavioral approach to anger management, I explain that we have most control over our own behaviors and very little control over other’s behavior. We examine how anger is helpful or hurtful to them and their relationships and how they might want things to be different.
Often times my male clients blame their partner for their anger. “She makes me so mad when she…”. In the cognitive behavioral approach to anger management, I explain the ABC’s of Emotion, that is, it is not the ACTIVATING EVENT (A) that causes the anger ( C= emotional consequence) but the Belief (B) view he takes of it that causes his anger. By accepting responsibility for creating his own feelings, the client has begun the process of being able to manage them more effectively.
By working with male clients individually, I can help them to feel calmer, develop more control, tolerance and patience and get them ready to be able to focus on developing and improving communication skills, problem solving, negotiating skills etc. These are ways to modify partner behaviors in a healthy way and get more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.
In individual work with men on anger management, we get them to a place where they don’t lose their temper and can more effectively learn and use other skills to help in improving their relationship with their partner and others. Again, the emphasis is NOT on changing the other person but on changing ourselves. As this occurs, the door to relationship improvement is opened and new changes can be more easily introduced.
To help clients not only feel better but get better, I provide practical strategies, ideas and exercises for them to train with. Many of these are described in my brief, pocket-sized educational and self help guidebook, “Anger Management” available on the products side of my website (www.cognitivetherapy.cc).
Anger management for men based on a cognitive behavioral approach can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time if the male client is committed to self improvement and willing to learn and practice simple ideas, exercises and practices between weekly appointments. Many times clients have reported positive changes in their relationship even when their partner is not receiving their own therapy or they are not involved in couples therapy.
Dr. Robert Heller is based in Boca Raton, Florida.