How is anger management improved in couples therapy?

Not having the skills to properly channel anger can make personal relationships very unstable and often become a source of discomfort. If we also focus specifically on relationships, the type of problems that can arise in them are even more intense.

Fortunately, often dating or marriage crises triggered by the ability to manage anger can be overcome with psychological support. In this article I will talk about it, that is, strategies used in couples therapy to resolve problems due to poor anger management.

    What issues with a partner can lead to anger management?

    Even in cases where improper channeling of anger does not result in direct physical or verbal assault on the other person (which would constitute abuse, especially serious in relationships), not knowing how to properly handle this emotion can harm both the relationship itself and the mental health of those involved.. In this regard, the main sources of discomfort caused by the inability to manage anger are:

    • Tendency not to talk about problems to avoid discussions.

    • Conflicts that start in court or marriage and spread to the rest of the family.

    • Fear of abandonment and dynamics of affective dependence.

    • Distrust and concealment of personal information so as not to expose “weaknesses” in anticipation of frequent discussions.

    • High exposure to stress.

    • Self-esteem issues in those who are frequently criticized.

    • Tendency to be ashamed of the other person (because they get angry very easily in front of everyone) and not want to socialize with them because of it.

    • Difficulties in making future plans together due to the instability of the relationship (which leads to more arguments and mistrust).

    • You may be interested: “The 8 types of emotions (classification and description)”

    What strategies are used in couples therapy to control anger?

    In couple therapy, an intervention program adapted to each case is always applied. and taking into account the characteristics of the patients, their interests and their role in the problem to be treated. This is why we never follow an “instruction manual” that offers fixed solutions, but first diagnoses the problem and then offers tools adapted to the needs of each couple.

    In any case, you will find in the following lines a summary of the techniques and strategies frequently used in couples therapy when there are problems of management and control of anger. In any case, keep in mind that when outbursts occur in a context of abuse, these cases are not accepted by the professionals who accompany couples and it is necessary to intervene as quickly as possible to break the relationship and bring the victim to safety.

    1. Developing the ability to identify emotions

    Often, the tendency to “explode” in anger in many contexts is due to the person’s tendency to confuse this emotion with other emotions, feelings, or even physiological states; this automatically leads to a hostile attitudeassuming she feels this way because she is the victim of an injustice, because someone humiliates her, etc.

    Therefore, in couples therapy, the Emotional Intelligence of patients is enhanced by helping them to correctly identify their emotional states and name them taking into account what is happening at the time.

      2. Development of assertiveness strategies

      It is also very common that arguments between partners arise very often because one of the people, the one who does not regulate their anger well, does not know a strategy for expressing dissatisfaction in a constructive manner or for defending his interests in the event that these have not been taken into account. Reacting with anger and direct exposition and disregarding the side effects of it is the most “rude” and “easiest” way to let others know that there is something we don’t like.

      Therefore, in couples therapy, people are trained in assertive forms of communication, so that they can communicate what they don’t like, also taking into account the other person’s point of view and interests. , while they say it does not create a hostile confrontation.

      3. Use of relaxation techniques

      When we accumulate too much stress within us, we are more likely to be irritable and impatient. when faced with unforeseen circumstances or misunderstandings with others. Therefore, psychologists teach relaxation techniques to do a mental “reset” and lower activity levels of the nervous system, through resources such as meditation, controlled breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.

        4. Structured and Offbeat Communication Training

        Another way to address partner issues through poor anger management is to train people in discussion management guidelines. by making them internalize a structure and certain rhythms and turns when they speak, and establish a context in which both people recognize when the other uses this technique and collaborates with it. This avoids very frustrating situations where both want to talk at the same time and end up shouting and not listening to each other.

        5. Establish healthy lifestyle habits

        If the person who usually feels angry leads a healthy lifestyle (sleep enough, take care of their hygiene, eat well, etc.), You will feel better in your day-to-day life and your level of irritability will decrease accordinglywhich makes it easier for him to be patient or to feel “overwhelmed” by several sources of discomfort at the same time.

          6. Explore the cause of a pattern of recurring arguments

          Finally, the possibility of such a relationship can also be explored a problem that keeps coming up and makes one or both people ready to argue using all sorts of excuses.

          Are you looking for psychological help for couples?

          If you are interested in partnership therapy services, please contact me.

          My name is Tomas Santa Cecilia, I am a psychologist and I deal with both individuals and couples, working on the model of cognitive-behavioral intervention. Sessions can be done both in person in my office in Madrid and online via video call.

          Bibliographic references

          • Biscotti, O. (2006). Couple therapy: a systemic vision. 1a. ed. Buenos Aires: Lumen.
          • Butts, T. (2007) Managing Anger in Meditation: Concepts and Strategies. University of Huelva, Spain.
          • Horse, V. (1991). Manual of Behavior Modification Techniques and Therapy. Madrid: Acronym XXI.
          • Christensen, A.; Atkins, DC; Yi, J.; Baucom, DH & George, WH (2006). Couple and individual adjustment over 2 years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. J Consult Clin Psychol. 74 (6): 1180-91.
          • Gottman, JM & Silver, N. (2012). Seven golden rules for living as a couple: an in-depth study of relationships and coexistence. Madrid: Penguin Random House.
          • Steber, C. (March 26, 2021). Is your relationship making your anxiety worse? Restlessness.

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