Anger management can help you control your anger in three ways
You can learn scientifically based anger management techniques that prevent an anger episode from occurring in the first place, reduce the intensity and length of your anger episodes once they occur, and help you to act effectively even when you are angry, instead of shooting yourself in the foot and make a situation worse. You can learn how to change your thinking, feelings, and behaviors with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) exercises that have scientific support.
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Will anger management therapy be worth it for you?
First let’s take a look at why you may need anger management.
Why You May Need Anger Management
Anger problems can be incredibly costly and even physically harmful. So if you or someone else has an anger problem it is critical that you get effective anger management. Anger when it is incredibly intense, long lasting, and frequent can wreck people’s lives.
Even a single anger episode, if intense enough, can put people at risk for strokes or heart attacks. And over time anger appears to be associated with many kinds of other health problems including gastrointestinal problems, cancer, harmful fat tissue, etc. Anger has been shown to predict death as well as cholesterol and blood pressure.
Anger is also correlated with poor decision-making and interpersonal problems. In fact, it is very common for people with anger problems to have issues with family, friends, and coworkers. Relationships can suffer a great deal when an anger disorder is present.
Anger issues lead to impulsive acts, bad decision-making, and/or relationship problems that cause problems in the workplace. Many jobs are lost or career paths are blocked when anger problems go untreated.
Here are some questions to consider if you think you or a family member may have an anger problem:
- Does your anger become so intense that physiological changes like rapid heartbeat, perspiration, energy in your arms make it difficult for you to do anything else until you are calm again?
- Do you have difficulty calming yourself down after becoming angry?
- Have you ever become physical because of your anger? Hurt yourself, someone, or damaged property, e.g., smashed cell phones, computer screens, punched walls, etc.?
- Have you lost or significantly hurt relationships as a function of your anger?
- Has your work or your reputation at work suffered because of your anger?
- Have you made bad decisions in the moment when you are angry that you later clearly see could have been avoided?
- Has the feeling of anger or thoughts (ruminations) made it difficult to concentrate?
Many people with anger issues can answer “Yes” to many or even all of these questions. But if the impairment in functioning is extreme to even one of these, anger management could be recommended, and ultimately helpful if it is a scientifically based program.
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What is Anger Management and How Can it Help
Anger management that is scientifically based is an intervention aimed at helping you to prevent anger episodes, reduce the intensity and duration of anger episodes that do occur, and help you behave in your best interests, even when you are angry. The last thing you want to do is to make a bad situation worse.
You learn how to prevent being upset in the first place and how to change how often, how long, and how intensely you feel angry. Sometimes you may no longer become angry from a trigger that used to really enrage you. Other times you may still become angry, but you are able to practice skills that bring the intensity down very quickly so you can get back to a productive day or reconnect with someone you care about, instead of escalating matters.
Finally, in my anger management work, I really focus on having you learn how to behave or act in line with your values and goals, whether you are angry or not.
It is much easier to behave effectively if you are not intensely angry, but we also want you to be able to behave constructively while angry, so you don’t make matters worse.
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Types of Anger Management Treatment in New York City
Anger management in New York City can cost anywhere from $100 to $400 per session.
While this is costly by most people’s standards, the good news is that with an expert clinician, significant results can usually be seen in eight weeks. We typically recommend at least 16 sessions as we want the skills to really take root, so that clients can handle whatever comes their way once they are out of treatment.
In New York, insurance could reimburse clients depending on what other symptoms they have, if the treatment provided is in fact psychotherapy provided by a mental health professional. It is unlikely insurance would cover an anger management class.
There are different modern approaches to anger management as taught in New York City. Here are some of them:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a behavior therapy that emphasizes accepting feelings while still behaving according to plan. So in the case of anger management, anger is not a target of change at all. In fact, ACT clinicians may argue that trying to control or manage anger may make it worse. Instead clients would be taught how to accept the angry feelings and still speak and behave constructively regardless of what feelings are present.
Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive Therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Therapy, as its name implies, focuses on the role cognitions play in causing or influencing emotions. But it also contains techniques that are behavioral in nature as well. Cognitive Therapy would help anger management clients identify cognitive distortions and consider how accurate they are. An angry client may “magnify” how serious of an offense a friend committed blowing it out of proportion. Cognitive Therapists would help the client check to see if the perception of the offense is accurate and correct if it isn’t, thereby reducing the emotional intensity of the anger.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) that encompasses a number of cognitive and behavioral techniques. Its primary application has been Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). That diagnosis can include anger, so it makes sense that DBT could be helpful to clients with anger management issues. DBT includes a number of skills. Mindfulness skills, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness skills could all be useful for those struggling with anger problems.
Exposure Therapy. Exposure Therapy is a Behavioral Therapy (BT) that has been applied to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Specific Phobias, Social Anxiety, and Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD). It has also been utilized in anger management. But this should not be done without a great deal of specialized training, as there is concern it could make things worse.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT is a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) that also includes many behavioral techniques. REBT theory emphasizes four core irrational beliefs as the cause of intense emotional responses. These are Demandingness, e.g., “People have to treat me with respect!” Low-frustration Tolerance, e.g., “I can’t tolerate rude people.” Awfulizing, e.g., “Criticizing me in front of my family was the worst thing you could do!” and Global Evaluations of Worth, e.g., “He is a piece of sh&% for talking to me like that!” While there may be some truth in those statements, REBT therapists hone in on the logical, empirical, and practical problems in those statements. By constructing more flexible and moderate (but still accurate, not necessarily positive) beliefs, clients would still feel annoyed and upset, but hopefully not enraged.
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Why Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the best treatment for anger management.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has been the most scientifically supported treatment for anger. CBT for anger management has been applied to college students, veterans, and outpatients. It has been shown to work for men and women. And as mentioned earlier, some techniques and formats that have been used in anger management have made things worse. It is likely that with time other forms of therapy may prove to be effective. But until then, CBT is the safest bet we have if we want to reduce anger and change the self-defeating behaviors that are associated with anger, since CBT has the most scientific support.
How to find a good anger management therapist in NYC
The best anger management therapist in NYC would be similar to an effective anger therapist anywhere. Of course, New York and New Yorkers do have some idiosyncratic anger triggers (subway delays, slow gawking tourists on the sidewalks, ridiculous rent hikes, etc.), so having worked with a lot of New Yorkers could be an advantage.
Effective anger management therapists will have been trained in the scientifically supported treatments for anger. It is important for them to be able to comfortably explain the science behind effective anger management and briefly explain how the anger management techniques work.
If they are an anger management specialist, have done it for years, and/or do CBT, then they should also welcome specific questions, and be happy to provide you with details. If they are defensive or can’t give you specifics about the science, it may be worth calling someone else.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean you should expect a 30-minute free session by phone. But spending 5-10 minutes by phone to explain the details of how and why anger management can be effective as a reasonable expectation for someone wanting to begin anger management.
Where can I find anger management classes in NYC?
Many drug treatment centers advertise that they offer anger management classes. So if you have a substance misuse problem that is one option. New York Behavioral Health also offers individual and frequently group therapy for anger management. They also offer DBT Groups for men and women, which provide many skills to effectively manage anger (but these groups would only be appropriate for people who have anger problems and are also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which has anger as a symptom).
I also have a private practice where I offer coaching and individual psychotherapy, both of which can address anger issues depending on the severity and the accompanying problems.
Steps for signing up in Anger Management Therapy in NYC
Some programs may require you to start when a new class or module begins. Others may be able to schedule you immediately for an intake appointment. So it is a good idea to call as soon as you know you might be interested to determine how soon you could start, if you decide their anger management services could be helpful.
Here are the general steps to take:
- Call to make an intake appointment and be sure to inquire about how soon treatment could begin.
- Ask if there are any questionnaires or administrative forms that can be completed in advance, or when they need to be completed. You don’t want treatment to be delayed for any reason.
- Be sure to ask about the experience of the therapist treating anger, especially his or her familiarity with the scientifically supported techniques. As mentioned above, anyone can say they know CBT. You want to be sure the CBT therapist is able to comfortably discuss the scientific support for the kinds of CBT techniques that have been shown to be effective for anger management.
If you are interested in working with me or a member of our team for anger management, please do not hesitate to call our offices at 646-693-3760. We will be happy to discuss our anger management services and the different therapists with whom you could work.