Top 14 CBT Anger Management Exercises (+FREE Anger Management Worksheets)

Top 14 CBT Anger Management Exercises (+FREE Anger Management Worksheets)

Today, you’re going to learn all about CBT For Anger and how to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy exercises for anger management.

Anger is the emotion we feel when we experience injustice or have our goals blocked.

Anger has an unnecessarily bad reputation, mainly, because it is often associated with violence (lashing out physically or verbally)

But emotions are distinctly separate from behaviors.

You may want to express your anger by lashing out, but you don’t have to. There are other healthier ways to express anger.

In the same way, just because you feel scared, doesn’t mean you have to avoid the thing you are scared of.

In other words,

  • Anger is a normal and healthy response to many situations.
  • Anger can be managed and used in a way that is healthy and effective.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Anger: a misunderstood emotion, components of anger, what are the common triggers for anger, top 14 cbt anger management exercises, free anger management worksheets (pdf).

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment approach.

CBT helps effectively treat a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, anger issues, and other mental illnesses.

CBT is based on the following principle: “Psychological problems are based, in part, on unhelpful ways of thinking and learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.”

Therefore, people can relieve their symptoms by changing their thoughts and behaviors. ( source )

Anger can be a major contributing factor in destroying relationships, property damage, substance abuse, legal troubles, and other negative consequences.

But the problem isn’t anger itself, but what you do with that anger.

Can Anger Be Used In A Positive Way?

Anger serves a purpose. It can motivate people to solve problems, confront injustice, and create meaningful social change.

Three benefits of anger

Anger alerts you to injustice or someone or something blocking your goals.

Anger motivates you to confront injustice.

Anger communicates your status to others.

When Anger Becomes A Problem?

Anger becomes counter-productive when it doesn’t inspire you to take effective action.

For example, sitting in a car in a traffic jam day in and day out without taking action to change that situation (taking another route, leaving home earlier, changing working hours, using the time to listen to an audiobook, etc) can negatively impact your physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.

Anger becomes a problem also when:

  • You regularly express it in unhelpful or destructive ways
  • It affects your physical and psychological well-being
  • Prevents you from communicating effectively with other people

Why Getting Angry Less Often Isn’t The Solution?

Looking at the consequences of “acting” on anger, many people assume that the solution to maladaptive or problematic anger would be to get angry less often.

You might have been told that, “Life’s too short to be angry,” or, “You just need to relax,” which could be true for some people.

But for many people, the problem isn’t about getting angry less, but how to handle their anger and make different decisions about how they express anger.

Anger Management: It’s More Than Deep Breathing

Most people view anger management as staying in control and working your way out of it through deep breathing.

While anger management does include calming exercises, it can also include much more than that.

Every emotion is made up of three different components: physical, cognitive, and behavioral.

Becoming mindful of each component can help you recognize anger earlier and manage it more effectively. ( * )

Physical component

What does anger feel like in your body? The following are some common physical sensations that may apply for you:

  • Racing heart
  • Shallow breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Muscle tension
  • Clenched teeth
  • Feeling flushed in the face
  • Increased perspiration or sweating
  • Clenched fists
  • Tunnel vision

Cognitive component

What kind of thoughts and interpretations do you have while experiencing feelings of anger? The following are some common thoughts:

  • This isn’t fair.
  • He shouldn’t have done that.
  • This shouldn’t have happened.
  • What a jerk!
  • This is wrong.
  • Everyone is against me.

Behavioral component

What types of things do you tend to say or do when you feel anger? The following are some common action urges:

  • Standing up for yourself
  • Asserting your needs
  • Confronting someone
  • Picking a fight
  • Raising your voice
  • Throwing something
  • Punching or hitting something
  • Hurting yourself

The triggers for anger can vary greatly from person to person, as everyone has unique experiences, sensitivities, and personal boundaries.

However, there are some common triggers that tend to provoke anger reactions in many individuals. Here are a few examples:

1. Frustration: When we encounter obstacles or challenges that impede our progress or prevent us from achieving our desired goals, it can lead to feelings of frustration and subsequently, anger.

2. Injustice: Witnessing or experiencing unfair treatment, discrimination, or perceived injustices can evoke strong anger reactions.

3. Betrayal: Being lied to, deceived, or betrayed by someone we trust can trigger intense anger and feelings of hurt.

4. Disrespect: Feeling disrespected, belittled, or humiliated by others can elicit anger responses as it challenges our sense of self-worth and dignity.

5. Threats to personal safety or boundaries: Any situation where we feel threatened, physically or emotionally, can trigger anger as a protective response.

6. Traffic and daily hassles: Mundane, day-to-day frustrations like being stuck in traffic, dealing with long queues, or facing repetitive annoyances can accumulate and lead to anger outbursts.

7. Financial stress: Money-related issues such as financial instability, debt, or loss can create significant stress and provoke anger reactions.

It’s important to recognize that these triggers are not universal, and what may anger one person might not affect another in the same way.

Identifying and understanding our unique anger triggers can help us develop strategies to manage and cope with anger more effectively.

Related: Assertive Anger: What It Is & How to Practice It

#1. Reinforce Your Decision to Change

At times it might seem like other people are the problem. If they could just stop being so annoying, you wouldn’t be so angry.

Resisting change is the rule, not the exception.

That’s why you need to reinforce your decision to change by considering all of the reasons why your life would be better if you could free yourself from anger.

Practical Exercise – Consider the Pros and Cons of Anger-Related Behavior

1. Identify the pros and cons of how you currently manage anger, how you express it, and how it affects your life.

For example:

Pros: It makes me feel powerful

Cons: It is hurting my relationships

If you tend to experience a lot of angry outbursts, consider the impact of these on your health and relationships.

If you don’t act out in anger, but feel angry most of the time, consider the impact that chronic anger has on your life.

2. Identify the pros and cons of working on your anger

Pros: I would feel better about myself

Cons: It is a lot of work and practice

After writing down the list of pros and cons, rate each item on a scale from 1 to 5 based on its effect on your life and compare totals.

Keep the lists where you can see them regularly.

#2. Making a Commitment to Change

When you commit to change, you consciously choose to take action that is in line with your values and goals, despite having destructive urges.

There are different ways to increase your commitment :

1. Take action steps

Action steps might involve searching for techniques you can apply to manage your anger, making an appointment with a therapist or counselor , talking about it with your partner, or a friend, keeping track of your anger (behavior, triggers, etc).

2. Talk about your commitment

Studies (Lokhorst et al. 2013) have found that people are much more likely to sustain public commitments than private commitments.

Committing publicly can involve talking with a close friend or loved one about the steps you’re willing to take, committing to your therapist to do anger-management homework, make specific commitments with someone else who is also working on anger.

#3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves learning to pay attention to what you are experiencing at the present moment.

Many people believe that mindfulness means meditation or is related to a religion or spiritual practice. But that’s not true.

You don’t need to sit and meditate for hours to benefit from mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about being aware of what is happening in the moment.

Mindfulness can help you recognize the first signs of anger and help you control it before it becomes overwhelming.

Practical Exercise – Mindfully Attending to Your Anger

Find a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit or lie down.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Notice what it feels like to breathe in and out and which parts of your body move as you breathe.

Think about an experience that triggered your anger recently. Choose an experience of a moderate level, when your anger was around a 4 or 5 on a scale from 0 to 10.

As you focus on the experience, pay close attention to your body sensations.

Once you have finished scanning your body, focus your attention on the parts of your body where you feel anger.

If you find yourself judging the situation, notice that judgment and bring your attention back to noticing the sensations as just sensations.

Focus on noticing any urges your anger triggers and keep focusing on the different components of your emotion without trying to escape or avoid, change, or push them away.

Do this for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until the emotion subsides and you no longer feel angry.

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#4. Recognize Your Role

Facing your emotions and asking yourself “What might I have done to contribute to this?” requires a level of self-reflection and honesty that is difficult for many people.

Anger is a social emotion that we usually feel in the context of an interaction with another person. So it’s important to consider how something we said or did (even unintentionally) may have influenced the situation.

This is what’s called “evocation”: the act of unintentionally triggering predictable reactions in others.

For example, someone who approaches people expecting them to be rude, will be rude first, and unintentionally elicit rudeness in response.

This suggests that oftentimes, we unintentionally contribute to the social situations that we find ourselves in.

You might think, “Wouldn’t considering how I’m partly responsible make me feel worse?”

While it’s true that feelings of guilt may emerge, recognizing your role in these situations can be empowering – it’s one thing you can control.

Practical Exercise – Reflecting on an Angry Incident

Revisit an angry incident you had recently and try to answer the following questions:

1. What injustice did you experience that your anger was alerting you to?  Were you treated poorly, unfairly, or otherwise wronged?

2. If you didn’t experience injustice, was someone or something blocking your goals?

3. What was the experience of anger like in your body? Did these physical sensations help or hurt you in responding to the injustice?

4. How did you express that anger both verbally and nonverbally (posture, facial expressions, tone of voice)?

5. What might you have done to contribute to this situation?

#5. Prevent Triggering States

Perhaps you recognize that you tend to become anxious under stress, or snap when you’re tired or hungry.

Identifying what triggers your anger can help you prevent unwanted anger.

Reminding yourself that “This feels worse because I am tired,” can help you calm down much more quickly.

Some of these states might seem obvious. Most people are more likely to get angry when they’re sleep-deprived, under stress, tired, running late, experiencing physical pain, or hungry.

But there are other situations specific to you that can make you more likely to get angry, such as specific memories, specific people or actions.

Practical Exercise – Manage Pre-Anger States

Come up with a list of states that tend to exacerbate anger. This list could involve:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Running late
  • Physical pain

Take steps to prevent these situations.

For example, if you’re going to have a busy day at work, make sure you get enough sleep the night before, eat a healthy breakfast, and leave the house earlier.

CBT For Anger: Top 14 Practical Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques For Anger Management (+FREE Anger Worksheets)

#6. Identifying the Cues for Your Anger

Triggering states aren’t the only factor in experiencing anger.

Some situations or experiences may bring up anger for you, too.

When identifying the cues for your anger, make sure you describe them objectively without labeling or judging them.

For example, when someone says something hurtful to you, instead of saying “He is a jerk,” you’d say, “My dad told me he doesn’t approve of my job.”

Evaluations and judgments would only add fuel to the fire. When you objectively describe the situation your anger reaction can subside.

Practical Exercise – Identifying Your Cues for Anger

Knowing the types of situations and experiences that tend to trigger your anger is an important first step in learning to manage your anger – It’s easier to manage what’s predictable.

Write down a list of cues that trigger your anger.

Think about times you experienced anger recently and what situation or experience that brought up anger for you.

The following are some common cues for anger:

  • Being told no
  • Driving in traffic
  • Waiting in line
  • Having someone disagree with you
  • Being insulted
  • Not having your opinions or wishes taken into account
  • Observing people mistreating animals or children

#7. Identify Your Appraisal Tendencies

This will help you manage your anger better, but also understand more about yourself, how you might have fueled your anger, and how you can prevent that.

Appraisal tendencies include the following thinking patterns:

  • Catastrophizing (“This is going to suck”),
  • Inflammatory labeling (“How stupid can someone be?”),
  • Overgeneralizing (“Why do these things always happen to me?”).
  • Fortune-Telling (“I have so much to do. I’m going to be behind in my work”)

These cognitive distortions can fuel your anger and even cause it in the first place.

Practical Exercise – Identify Your Core Values and Beliefs That Drive Your Anger

1. Identify the different types of situations that trigger your anger. Try to come up with some specific examples of situations and for persistent a pattern there.

2. Identify your interpretations you tend to have during these situations (catastrophizing, inflammatory labeling, fortune-telling, overgeneralizing, etc)

3. Reflect on what this appraisal tendency says about you? (If you tend to labeling people negatively, does that reflect a general attitude of contempt?)

4. Consider your appraisal tendency when examining future incidents.

5. Practice positive reappraisal by reinterpreting the same event in a more positive light.

Read More: When Your Brain Lies to You: How to Stop Cognitive Distortions and Overcome Depression?

#8. Avoid or Change Anger-Provoking Situations

Oftentimes, we can choose what provocations we experience. We make choices about who we interact with and how we interact with them. And these choices influence how we feel.

For example, someone who participates in political debates on social media and gets angry arguing with other people is making a choice to do that.

That isn’t to say that we should avoid any conversation that will make us angry or uncomfortable. There are conversations we need to have, people we need to interact with and avoiding these will negatively impact our lives and limit them.

The key here is to weigh the pros and cons.

Practical Exercise – Manage Provocations

Each time you’re about to get into a situation or a conversation that you know will trigger your anger, ask yourself,

“Is it worth it?”

“Will this conversation solve a problem or enrich my life in any way?”

If you decide that the situation isn’t worth it, come up with a plan for avoiding it or limiting your exposure to it.

For example, if driving in heavy traffic tends to make you angry, think of ways you can avoid heavy traffic.

  • Can you take a less congested route to work?
  • Can you change your work schedule so you don’t have to drive during rush hour?
  • Can you take public transportation instead?

manage your anger worksheets

#9. Increase Self-Efficacy

One of the functions of anger is to provide a sense of control. So the more life feels out of control, the more likely you are to get angry.

Therefore, doing things that make you feel competent and incontrol helps you feel good about yourself and makes you less reactive to everyday hassles, thus reducing your vulnerability to intense anger.

  • So make a to-do list and start crossing things off your list.
  • Do something you’ve been avoiding and that will move you toward your goals
  • Do something you are good at

#10. Crisis Survival Skills

One of the biggest problems with anger is that it is often accompanied by the destructive urges.

Crisis survival skills are designed to help you avoid acting on these urges. These skills include:

  • Leaving the situation
  • Distracting yourself
  • Getting your mind busy
  • Creating strong sensations
  • Releasing the energy related to anger
  • Thinking Through The Disadvantages Of Acting On Angry Impulses

1. Leave the Situation

Leaving the situation can be the easiest way to avoid making things worse and calm yourself down.

This could mean walking away from the situation.

However, when another person is involved, how you leave will depend on your relationship with the person and how much they know about your struggles with anger.

If the person is a close friend or family member who is aware that you’re working on your anger, you can let them know that you need some space.

If you don’t know the person well, you may say that you need to use the restroom or take a phone call.

Sometimes it might be better to leave a situation abruptly than to act on urges to do something destructive.

Leaving the situation is only the first step. What you do after leaving the situation is just as important.

2. Distract Yourself

Focusing your attention on something else will keep you from retriggering your anger by ruminating on it and give it time to subside.

Do something. You can choose almost any activity as long as it is stimulating.

Choose an outdoor activity. When you’re outdoors, you’re surrounded by all kinds of things that can capture your attention, (temperature and feel of the air, sounds you hear, sights around you, things you smell).

3. Get your mind busy

Give your mind something else to focus on.

Make your mind work. Count backwards, starting at zero and keep adding seven until you exceed one hundred, do a word game, play a challenging game on your phone, try to come up with the name of an animal or a city that starts with each letter of the alphabet, etc.

Think about something else. A positive experience you’ve had, something that made you laugh, your pet, or someone you love, what you need to do in the coming week, etc.

4. Create Strong Sensations

Create a sensation that is so powerful or strong that you can’t help but focus on it.

Taste. Suck on a lemon, suck on candy with a very strong flavor, bite into a raw jalapeño pepper, etc.

Smell. Spray strongly scented perfume, open a bottle of vinegar and breathe deeply. Some people find that unpleasant smells are more distracting than pleasant ones.

Touch. Hold a piece of ice in your hand until it melts, take a cold shower.

Sound. Listen to loud music that is upbeat or happy, blow a whistle.

Sight. Focus on an image that really captures your attention with vibrant colors and strong lines.

5. Release The Energy Related To Anger

Activities that are physically demanding, such as aerobics, hiking, or swimming, help burn off some of the energy that goes along with feelings of anger.

6. Think Through The Disadvantages Of Acting On Angry Impulses

Controlling angry impulses can be so difficult for many people because expressing anger can be satisfying and provide a sense of release in the moment.

That’s why focusing on the long-term, destructive effect of reacting out of anger can help you better manage your anger.

These consequences might include:

  • Increased conflict and damaged relationships
  • Hurting other people’s feelings
  • Increased feelings of guilt and shame
  • Loss of a job or loss of a promotion or raise

#11. Reducing Physical Sensations Associated With Anger

Anger is made up of three different components (physical, cognitive, behavioral).

Modifying one of these components can change the experience of your anger.

Reducing physical sensations that come along with anger, such as shallow breathing, muscle tension, hot flushes, and rapid heart rate can help your anger subside as well.

1. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing helps you control your anger by reducing several of the physical sensations associated with anger, such as shallow breathing, muscle tension, and rapid heart rate.

A great thing about learning this skill is that you can use it any time or any place.

So how do you know if you’re breathing properly?

Take a few minutes to notice the parts of your body that move as you breathe.

If your belly is expanding when you breathe in and contract when you breathe out, then you are breathing properly.

If, on the other hand, your shoulders move up and down as you breathe, you might not be breathing properly. Using our chest and shoulders to breathe doesn’t allow enough room for the lungs to expand, which results in short and shallow breaths.

Practical Exercise – Learning How to Breathe Deeply

1. Sit up in a chair with your back straight.

2. Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest.

3. Take a breath in and deliberately push your belly out and let your belly fall when you breathe out.

4. Continue to breathe in and out counting to five each time, then try to lengthen your breaths.

5. Keep practicing this breathing exercise until it becomes a habit.

2. Slowing Your Breathing

This is similar to deep breathing, but instead of focusing on your belly and breathing more deeply, this skill focuses on breathing out more slowly than you breathe in and then gradually lengthening your out-breath.

An added benefit of this skill is that counting the length of each out-breath can distract you from whatever triggered your anger.

3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) involves tensing and then relaxing your body’s muscles.

This can help reduce the muscle tension that goes along with anger.

The reason why this skill involves tensing your muscles before relaxing them, is that relaxing muscles on command doesn’t tend to work.

But if you deliberately tense your muscles first, relaxing them can be much easier.

Practical Exercise – Practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation

1. Get into a comfortable position.

2. Choose one body part and bring your full attention to that part. You can start with the tips of your toes and work your way to your head.

3. If you choose your forearms, make fists with your hands and squeeze to about 70 percent of your maximum strength for about five to ten seconds and then release and relax your muscles.

4. Repeat this process for the rest of your body parts and notice any differences in sensations between the tense and relaxed muscles.

4. Lower Your Body Temperature

Your body heats up when you experience anger.

Therefore, lowering your body temperature can help reduce your anger and make it more manageable.

There are many ways to lower your body temperature:

  • Take a cold shower.
  • Hold an ice pack on your cheeks, wrists, or the back of your neck.
  • Dunk your face in a bowl of cold water.

#12. Express Your Anger In Healthier Ways

Research found that the catharsis theory of aggression fuels anger rather than decreasing it. ( 1 )

Groups that were encouraged to release their anger through punching bags, or hitting nails with hammers, become angrier. On the other hand, other groups that were encouraged to practice deep breathing or listening to music, became much calmer.

At the same time, anger suppression was found to be correlated with negative health and interpersonal consequences, such as cardiovascular disorders and alienating friends, family, and coworkers. ( 2 )

Express Your Anger Effectively

These things have all been shown to help decrease feelings of anger:

  • Practice breathing exercises from your diaphragm
  • Try meditation 
  • Seek social support (Talk through your feelings)
  • Use positive self-talk (Repeat mantras like “It’s going to be okay,” or, “Relax,” or, “Take it easy.”)
  • Try to gain a different perspective by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes rather than focusing solely on your anger
  • Learn to assert yourself , expressing your feelings calmly without becoming defensive or emotionally charged.
  • Anger Management Therapy or Counseling: Seek help from a professional therapist to learn how to use assertiveness and anger management skills.

#13. Reality Acceptance Skills

Acknowledging and accepting things as they are can help you reduce suffering.

Anger can serve a purpose: it propels us to take action to change whatever is making us angry.

However, when what’s making you angry cannot be fixed in the moment, fighting your anger can just make it worse.

Acceptance doesn’t mean you like the feeling or you want it to stay. It just means that you no longer fight it, that you acknowledge it, and can direct your energy and time to think of an effective action to take.

For example, if someone says something hurtful to you, refusing to accept that it happened and ruminating about will likely make you angrier.

On the other hand, when accept that this person said something hurtful, you’re more likely to think clearly about the situation and take effective action.

#14. Anger Communication

1. identify your goals.

When it comes to expressing anger, you need to figure out what exactly do you want the other person to do or say?

You might want the other person to treat you more respectfully, or set emotional boundaries.

2. Plan ahead for difficult conversations

Think about what points you want to make, how you are going to convey them, and how the other person may react.

3. Practice “When X happened, I felt Y” statements

Instead of saying “You made me feel,” try using “I statements” and convey facts.

4. Maintain professionalism

Stay calm. Avoid name-calling and try not to become defensive.

5. Make sure to listen too

Listen and pay attention to what they have to say, too. Try to put yourself in their shoes to gain a different perspective.

6. Take a break if you need one

If you find yourself getting agitated, ask if it’s okay to take a break before you continue the conversation.

Read More: How to Be More Effective in Relationships (Effective Communication)

CBT For Anger: Top 14 Practical Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques For Anger Management (+FREE Anger Worksheets)

Anger is an important emotion.

It can help us protect ourselves, fight injustice, and confront those who are mistreating us.

However, anger can also be incredibly frustrating and a major roadblock, getting in the way of our lives, relationships.

That is why you need to learn how to control it and use it effectively.

Is Anger a Mental Illness?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , fifth edition (American Psychiatric Association 2013), doesn’t include an “anger disorder.”

However, anger is a feature of many mental disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mania (a symptom of bipolar disorder), oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and others.

Depression and grief can also be accompanied by feelings of anger.

Are Anger and Aggression Related?

A lot of people associate anger with aggression, and while the two can be related, they’re not the same thing.

Aggression involves actions or statements that can harm someone or something.

Anger, on the other hand, is an emotional state .

You can feel very angry, but not act aggressively.

Similarly, people can act aggressively when they’re not even angry, such as protesters who may smash and break windows or insult police, and worse, all while laughing and jumping around.

How can anger affect our physical health?

Anger, when not properly managed, can have significant effects on our physical health.

Research suggests that experiencing intense or chronic anger can contribute to various health issues.

Here are some ways anger can impact our physical well-being:

1. Increased heart rate and blood pressure: When we are angry, our bodies release stress hormones like adrenaline, which can lead to an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Prolonged periods of anger can put a strain on our cardiovascular system, potentially leading to heart problems.

2. Weakened immune system: Frequent anger and unresolved anger can weaken our immune system’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses. This can make us more susceptible to conditions such as colds, flu, and other diseases.

3. Digestive problems: Anger can also manifest physically through digestive issues like stomachaches, acid reflux, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The tension caused by anger can disrupt the normal functioning of our digestive system.

4. Headaches and migraines: Anger can trigger headaches, tension headaches, and migraines due to the increased muscle tension and heightened arousal associated with anger. The severity and frequency of these headaches can vary from person to person.

5. Sleep disturbances: Unresolved anger can interfere with our sleep patterns, resulting in difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Lack of quality sleep can have numerous negative effects on our overall health and well-being.

6. Chronic pain: Some individuals may experience an exacerbation of pre-existing chronic pain conditions, such as back pain or muscle tension, when they are frequently angry or chronically angry. Anger can intensify the perception of pain.

It’s important to note that everyone may not experience these physical symptoms to the same degree, and individual differences exist in how anger manifests physically.

Additionally, the impact of anger on physical health can vary based on factors such as the intensity of anger, frequency of anger episodes, and an individual’s overall health status.

Related: Anger Iceberg: How to Use It (+FREE Anger Iceberg Worksheet PDF)

Is anger a learned behavior or an innate response?

Anger is considered to be a natural and innate emotional response that is hardwired into our biology.

It is a part of our evolutionary adaptation mechanisms and can be triggered when we perceive a threat, injustice, or frustration.

From an early age, infants display signs of anger when their needs are not met.

However, while anger itself is an innate response, how we express and manage our anger can be influenced by learned behaviors.

Our upbringing, cultural background, and social environment play a significant role in shaping how we understand and express anger.

We learn from our parents, siblings, peers, and society about what is considered acceptable or unacceptable anger expression.

Therefore, while the initial feeling of anger is instinctive, the way we learn to express it, control it, or channel it constructively is influenced by our learned behaviors and environmental factors.

Related:  Best 10 Anger Management Books And Workbooks

Can anger be beneficial in any way?

While anger is typically viewed as a negative emotion, it can have some potential benefits when channeled and managed effectively. Here are a few ways anger might be beneficial:

1. Assertiveness: Expressing anger in a controlled and assertive manner can help establish boundaries, assert our needs, and communicate our feelings more effectively. It can empower us to stand up for ourselves and address situations that require change.

2. Problem-solving: Anger can sometimes serve as a motivator for finding solutions to difficult situations or conflicts. It can provide the necessary energy and determination to tackle challenges head-on and seek resolution.

3. Self-awareness: When we experience anger, it can provide us with valuable insights into our own emotions, values, and personal boundaries. Exploring the underlying causes of anger can foster self-reflection and self-awareness.

4. Social change: Historically, anger has played a role in driving social and political movements. Outrage and anger towards injustices have led individuals and communities to mobilize for positive societal change.

How can I differentiate between healthy and unhealthy anger?

It’s important to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger to promote emotional well-being and maintain healthy relationships. Here are some key differences:

Healthy anger:

– Is expressed in a controlled manner, without resorting to aggressive or violent behavior. – Is proportional to the situation and not overly intense or prolonged. – Is focused on addressing the issue at hand, rather than attacking the person involved. – Allows for open and respectful communication, creating space for understanding and compromise. – Is accompanied by empathy and an awareness of others’ perspectives.

Unhealthy anger:

– Involves aggressive, violent, or destructive behavior toward oneself or others. – Is disproportionate to the situation, leading to excessive or prolonged anger reactions. – Involves insults, personal attacks, or demeaning language when expressing anger. – Hinders effective communication and escalates conflicts rather than resolving them. – Is accompanied by a lack of empathy and an inability to consider others’ viewpoints.

What are some signs of uncontrolled anger?

Individuals experiencing uncontrolled anger may display various signs and symptoms. Here are some common indicators:

1. Frequent outbursts: Reacting to even minor triggers with intense anger outbursts that are disproportionate to the situation.

2. Physical aggression: Engaging in physically aggressive behavior, such as hitting objects or people, during episodes of anger.

3. Verbal aggression: Using verbal aggression, insults, or profanities when expressing anger towards others.

4. Risky behavior: Engaging in impulsive or reckless activities during moments of anger, disregarding potential consequences.

5. Chronic resentment: Holding grudges or harboring resentment for extended periods, often unable to let go of past anger-inducing events.

6. Difficulty calming down: Finding it challenging to calm down and regulate emotions after becoming angry, leading to prolonged periods of heightened arousal.

Related:  Rational Detachment – What Is It and How to Cultivate it

How does anger impact our mental well-being?

Anger can significantly impact our mental well-being, both in the short term and over time. Here are some ways in which anger affects our psychological health:

1. Stress and anxiety: Anger activates the body’s stress response, triggering the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Prolonged exposure to high levels of stress hormones can contribute to chronic stress and anxiety disorders.

2. Depression: Unresolved or chronic anger can contribute to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression. Anger turned inward can undermine self-esteem and lead to self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.

3. Interpersonal conflicts: Difficulty managing anger can strain relationships, leading to conflicts and social isolation. Confrontations arising from uncontrolled anger can damage important personal and professional connections.

4. Impaired decision making: When anger is intense, rational thinking and decision-making abilities can be impaired. Reactive and impulsive responses during anger episodes can lead to poor choices and regrettable actions.

5. Low self-esteem: Struggling with anger issues can negatively impact self-esteem, as individuals may feel a lack of control over their emotions and behavior. This can contribute to feelings of guilt, shame, and diminished self-worth.

Related:  Top 7-Day Acceptance Challenge For A Peaceful Life

Is it normal to feel guilty after expressing anger?

Feeling guilty after expressing anger is a common experience for many individuals.

This guilt often stems from societal and cultural norms that discourage the open expression of anger.

Additionally, guilt may arise if anger is expressed in a way that violates personal values or results in harm to others.

It’s essential to recognize that feeling guilt does not necessarily mean that the expression of anger was inappropriate.

Exploring the underlying reasons for guilt and reflecting on the impact of one’s actions can help individuals find healthier ways to express and manage their anger.

What role does self-awareness play in anger management?

Self-awareness is a crucial component of anger management.

Developing an understanding of our own triggers, patterns, and emotional responses allows us to identify and address anger before it escalates.

By recognizing early signs of anger, such as physical sensations, thoughts, or changes in behavior, we can intervene and employ effective coping strategies.

Self-awareness also helps us gain insight into the root causes of our anger, enabling us to explore underlying emotions or unmet needs that may be driving the anger response.

Related:  Best 6 Ways to Let Go of Wanting to Control Everything

Can unresolved anger lead to long-term psychological issues?

Unresolved anger has the potential to contribute to various long-term psychological issues.

When anger persists without resolution or appropriate expression, it can negatively impact mental well-being. Some potential psychological consequences of unresolved anger include:

1. Chronic stress: Sustained anger activates the body’s stress response, leading to prolonged periods of heightened arousal. This chronic stress can increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression, and other stress-related conditions.

2. Relationship difficulties: Unresolved anger can strain relationships, leading to ongoing conflicts, resentment, and social isolation. It hinders effective communication and can erode trust and intimacy.

3. Self-esteem issues: Individuals struggling with unresolved anger may experience negative self-perception, low self-worth, and feelings of guilt or shame. These feelings can undermine self-esteem and contribute to an overall negative self-image.

4. Physical health problems: Prolonged anger can have adverse effects on physical health, including increased blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and suppressed immune function.

Related:  Circle of Control (+FREE Worksheet Download PDF)

Is there a connection between anger and substance abuse?

There is evidence of a correlation between anger and substance abuse.

Some individuals may turn to substances as a means of coping with or numbing their anger.

Conversely, substance abuse can impair impulse control and judgment, leading to a higher likelihood of aggressive behavior and anger outbursts.

Substance use can exacerbate anger-related issues and make it challenging to develop healthier coping strategies.

It is important to address both anger management and substance abuse simultaneously to effectively support individuals in their recovery journey.

Free Printable worksheets for mental health - free mental health counselor worksheets – free life coaching tools – free pdf download worksheets (1)

  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book Why We Get Mad: How to Use Your Anger for Positive Change, © 2021 by Ryan Martin. All rights reserved.
  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anger, © 2015 by Alexander L. Chapman and Kim L. Gratz. All rights reserved.
  • Control anger before it controls you (
  • When is anger a problem? – Mind
  • Anger Management –
  • Get help with anger – NHS (
  • Anger as a Basic Emotion and Its Role in Personality Building and Pathological Growth: The Neuroscientific, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives – PMC (

Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.

therapy homework for anger

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Mastering Anger: Unlocking the Potential of Therapy Homework

The role of therapy homework.

Therapy homework is an integral part of the therapeutic process, designed to enhance the effectiveness of therapy and promote personal growth. By completing  therapy homework assignments , individuals are able to extend the work done in therapy sessions to their daily lives, reinforcing insights and new skills. This section will explore the purpose of therapy homework and the benefits it can offer.

Understanding the Purpose of Therapy Homework

The primary purpose of therapy homework is to bridge the gap between therapy sessions and real-life experiences. It provides individuals with the opportunity to practice and apply the strategies, concepts, and skills learned in therapy to their daily routines. By actively engaging in therapy homework, individuals can reinforce their progress, develop new habits, and overcome challenges more effectively.

Therapy homework serves as an extension of therapy, allowing individuals to delve deeper into their personal growth journey. It encourages self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-directed learning, empowering individuals to take an active role in their own healing process. Through the completion of therapy homework, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their emotions, and their behaviors.

Benefits of Therapy Homework

Engaging in therapy homework can yield numerous benefits, both during and outside of therapy sessions. Some of the key advantages include:

  • Continuity of Care : Therapy homework provides a consistent connection to therapy, even between sessions. It helps maintain momentum and progress, ensuring that the therapeutic work is not confined to the therapy room.
  • Skill Development : Therapy homework allows individuals to practice and refine the skills they learn in therapy. Whether it’s implementing anger coping strategies, engaging in self-reflection exercises, or practicing mindfulness and meditation, therapy homework provides a safe space for skill development.
  • Increased Self-Awareness : By actively engaging in therapy homework, individuals can deepen their self-awareness. This awareness enables individuals to identify patterns, triggers, and barriers that may hinder their progress. As a result, individuals can develop more effective coping strategies and make positive changes in their lives.
  • Empowerment and Ownership : Completing therapy homework gives individuals a sense of empowerment and ownership over their healing process. It allows them to take an active role in their therapy journey, fostering a greater sense of control and autonomy.
  • Long-Term Results : The consistent practice and application of therapy homework can lead to long-term results. By integrating therapeutic concepts and strategies into daily life, individuals can experience lasting change and growth.

To maximize the potential of therapy homework, it’s important to set realistic goals, establish accountability, and incorporate the assignments into daily routines. By actively engaging in therapy homework, individuals can unlock their potential for personal growth and transformation.

In the next sections, we will delve into specific therapy homework assignments that can be effective in managing anger. Stay tuned for self-reflection exercises, anger coping strategies, and mindfulness and meditation practices that can be tailored to individual needs.

Anger Management and Therapy Homework

Understanding and managing anger is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and overall well-being. Therapy homework plays a significant role in helping individuals develop effective strategies to manage their anger. In this section, we will explore the concept of anger management and how therapy homework can assist in this process.

Exploring Anger Management

Anger management refers to the process of recognizing, understanding, and appropriately expressing anger. It involves learning how to control and channel anger in a constructive manner, rather than letting it escalate into harmful or destructive behaviors.

Anger can stem from various sources, such as frustration, disappointment, or feeling threatened. Unresolved anger can have negative consequences on both physical and mental health, as well as relationships. That’s why it’s essential to address anger in a healthy and productive way.

Therapy is a valuable resource for individuals seeking guidance in managing their anger. Therapists can help clients explore the root causes of their anger, develop self-awareness, and learn effective coping strategies. Therapy homework is an integral part of this process, as it allows individuals to practice and reinforce the skills learned during therapy sessions.

How Therapy Homework Can Help with Anger Management

Therapy homework provides an opportunity for individuals to actively engage in their own anger management process. It helps extend the therapeutic work beyond the therapy room, allowing individuals to work on their anger-related challenges in their daily lives.

By completing therapy homework assignments, individuals can:

  • Practice new coping skills : Therapy homework gives individuals the chance to practice and reinforce the coping skills they learn in therapy. This repetition helps to solidify these skills, making them more readily available when faced with anger-provoking situations.
  • Increase self-awareness : Engaging in self-reflection exercises as part of therapy homework can help individuals gain a deeper understanding of their triggers, patterns, and underlying emotions associated with anger. This increased self-awareness is essential for making positive changes in managing anger.
  • Develop healthier responses : Therapy homework assignments often focus on teaching individuals healthier ways to respond to anger triggers. By consistently practicing these responses, individuals can gradually replace harmful or ineffective anger expressions with more constructive alternatives.
  • Monitor progress : Regularly completing therapy homework assignments allows individuals to track their progress over time. This self-monitoring helps individuals identify patterns, triggers, and areas that may require further attention or adjustment within their anger management strategies.

To maximize the effectiveness of therapy homework for anger management, it’s essential to tailor the assignments to the individual’s specific needs and goals. This customization ensures that the therapy homework aligns with their unique circumstances and provides the most relevant and impactful support. For more information on therapy homework assignments and ideas for anger management, visit our article on  therapy homework assignments .

By actively participating in therapy homework and collaborating with their therapist, individuals can unlock the potential of therapy homework and enhance their anger management skills. Through consistent practice and application of the strategies learned, individuals can gain greater control over their anger and cultivate healthier ways of expressing and managing their emotions.

Effective Therapy Homework for Anger Management

When it comes to managing anger through therapy, incorporating effective  therapy homework  assignments can be immensely beneficial. These assignments provide individuals with tools and techniques to better understand and regulate their anger. Here are three examples of therapy homework activities that can be helpful for anger management:

Self-Reflection Exercises

Self-reflection exercises are a valuable tool for exploring the underlying causes and triggers of anger. Through introspection and self-awareness, individuals can gain insights into their thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors that contribute to anger outbursts. Some self-reflection exercises that can be assigned as therapy homework include:

  • Anger journaling : Encouraging clients to maintain a journal where they can express their feelings, identify triggers, and reflect on their responses to anger-provoking situations.
  • Self-questioning : Providing a list of reflective questions that prompt individuals to examine their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes related to anger. This helps in identifying patterns and gaining a deeper understanding of one’s anger.

Anger Coping Strategies

Developing effective coping strategies is crucial for managing anger in healthy and constructive ways. Therapy homework assignments can focus on teaching and practicing various coping strategies that individuals can employ when faced with anger-provoking situations. Some examples of anger coping strategies that can be incorporated into therapy homework include:

  • Deep breathing exercises : Guiding individuals through deep breathing exercises to help them calm down and gain control over their emotions when experiencing anger.
  • Using assertive communication : Encouraging individuals to practice assertive communication skills, enabling them to express their feelings and needs assertively, rather than resorting to anger or aggression.

Mindfulness and Meditation Practices

Mindfulness and meditation practices can be powerful tools for anger management. By cultivating present-moment awareness and developing a non-judgmental attitude towards their emotions, individuals can better regulate their anger responses. Therapy homework activities focusing on mindfulness and meditation can include:

  • Body scan meditation : Guiding individuals through a body scan meditation to help them connect with their physical sensations and release tension and anger from their bodies.
  • Mindful breathing : Assigning individuals the task of practicing mindful breathing exercises for a few minutes each day, helping them develop emotional awareness and self-regulation skills.

By incorporating these  therapy homework  assignments, individuals can actively engage in their anger management process and make progress towards healthier anger expression and regulation.

Remember, it’s important to tailor therapy homework to the individual’s specific needs and preferences. Assessing personal triggers and patterns can help identify the most effective strategies for each person. By setting realistic goals, establishing accountability, and incorporating homework into their daily routine, individuals can maximize the potential of therapy homework and enhance their anger management skills.

Tailoring Therapy Homework to Individual Needs

To make therapy homework effective for anger management, it is essential to  tailor the assignments to individual needs . This customization allows for a more personalized and targeted approach to address specific triggers and patterns that contribute to anger.

Assessing Personal Triggers and Patterns

The first step in tailoring therapy homework for anger management is to  assess personal triggers and patterns . This involves identifying the situations, thoughts, or emotions that tend to provoke anger. By understanding these triggers, individuals can gain insight into the underlying causes of their anger and develop strategies to effectively cope with them.

Therapists can guide clients through self-reflection exercises, such as journaling or guided questioning, to explore their anger triggers. Through this process, individuals can gain a better understanding of the events or circumstances that lead to anger and the associated thoughts and emotions. This self-awareness forms the foundation for customizing therapy homework assignments.

Customizing Homework Assignments

Once personal triggers and patterns have been identified, therapy homework assignments can be  customized  to address these specific areas. Here are a few examples of tailored homework assignments for anger management:

  • Trigger Identification : Assign individuals to create a trigger log, documenting situations that trigger their anger, the thoughts and emotions that arise, and the resulting behaviors. This helps individuals gain awareness of their triggers and provides an opportunity to practice recognizing and managing anger in real-time.
  • Cognitive Restructuring : Develop homework exercises that focus on challenging and reframing negative thought patterns associated with anger. This may include journaling exercises to identify and challenge cognitive distortions or practicing positive affirmations to reframe negative self-talk.
  • Emotion Regulation : Assign individuals mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or body scans, to help regulate emotions and reduce the intensity of anger. These practices can be incorporated into daily routines, allowing individuals to cultivate a greater sense of calm and emotional balance.
  • Communication Skills : Provide homework assignments that focus on improving communication skills, as poor communication can often contribute to anger. This may involve practicing active listening, assertiveness techniques, or conflict resolution strategies.

By customizing therapy homework assignments to address individual triggers and patterns, individuals can develop targeted coping strategies and acquire the necessary skills to manage their anger effectively. Therapists may need to adapt and modify the assignments based on the progress and needs of each individual.

For more ideas on therapy homework assignments, check out our article on  therapy homework assignments . Remember, the ultimate goal is to empower individuals with the tools and strategies they need to effectively manage their anger and improve their overall well-being.

Maximizing the Potential of Therapy Homework

To fully benefit from therapy homework, it is essential to  maximize its potential . This involves setting realistic goals, establishing accountability, and incorporating homework into your daily routine.

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial when it comes to therapy homework. It is important to identify specific and achievable objectives that align with your overall therapy goals. By breaking down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks, you can maintain motivation and track your progress more effectively.

When setting goals, consider the SMART criteria:  Specific ,  Measurable ,  Achievable ,  Relevant , and  Time-bound . For example, if your therapy goal is to manage anger more effectively, a specific homework goal could be to practice deep breathing exercises for five minutes each day for a week. This goal is measurable, achievable, relevant to anger management, and time-bound.

Establishing Accountability

Accountability plays a vital role in maximizing the effectiveness of therapy homework. It helps ensure that you follow through with the assigned tasks and stay committed to your therapy journey. There are several ways to establish accountability:

  • Therapist Check-Ins : Regular check-ins with your therapist can provide guidance, support, and accountability. During these sessions, you can discuss your progress, address any challenges, and receive feedback on your homework assignments.
  • Accountability Partners : Engaging an accountability partner, such as a trusted friend or family member, can provide an external source of motivation and support. Share your therapy goals and homework assignments with them, and schedule regular check-ins to discuss your progress.
  • Journaling : Keeping a journal to track your homework activities and reflect on your experiences can serve as a personal accountability tool. Write about your thoughts, emotions, and observations related to your homework assignments. This process allows for introspection and self-accountability.

Incorporating Homework into Daily Routine

To maximize the potential of therapy homework, it is essential to incorporate it into your daily routine. Consistency is key. By integrating homework tasks into your daily activities, you can establish a habit that supports your therapy goals.

Consider the following strategies to incorporate therapy homework into your routine:

  • Time Blocking : Allocate specific time slots in your schedule for completing homework assignments. Treat these time blocks as non-negotiable appointments with yourself.
  • Reminders and Prompts : Set reminders on your phone or use prompts in your environment to remember to engage in your homework tasks. This could include sticky notes, alarms, or visual cues that serve as reminders.
  • Integration with Daily Activities : Look for opportunities to incorporate therapy homework into existing daily activities. For example, if you are working on anger coping strategies, practice deep breathing exercises during your morning or evening routine.

By integrating therapy homework into your daily routine, you create a structure that reinforces your commitment to personal growth and development.

Remember, therapy homework is a valuable tool in your journey towards managing anger effectively. By setting realistic goals, establishing accountability, and incorporating homework into your daily routine, you can make the most of therapy homework and unlock its potential for personal transformation.

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What Is Anger Management Therapy?

Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

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Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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  • What It Helps With
  • Effectiveness
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Getting Started

Most people experience anger now and then. However, if you feel angry often or intensely, anger management therapy can help. “Anger management is an approach designed to help you manage the emotional and physiological arousal that accompanies anger," explains Erin Engle, PsyD, a psychologist at Columbia University Medical Center.

Engle goes on to say, "As it's often not possible to change the circumstances or people that elicit anger, anger management can help you recognize your triggers for anger and learn to cope with them more effectively .” Here's what you need to know about this therapy type and how it can help you live a happier, healthier life.

The aim of anger management therapy is to help minimize stressful or anger-evoking situations, improve self-control, and help you express your feelings in a healthy manner , according to Engle.

Types of Anger Management Therapy

Anger is a universal emotion that often arises in response to threat, loss of power, or injustice, says Engle. Additionally, this emotion is not necessarily negative, though it can be detrimental at uncontrollable levels given the behaviors likely to follow, such as throwing things, walking out, attacking others, saying things you later regret, or acting passive-aggressively .

Anger management therapy can help reduce these types of responses or outbursts. Several different approaches can be used during therapy sessions, some of which include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) : CBT is often the treatment of choice for anger management. Engle says that it can help you understand your triggers for anger, develop and practice coping skills, and think, feel, and behave differently in response to anger, so you are calmer and more in control.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) : DBT is a form of CBT that can help individuals with intense or frequent anger regain emotional control. It works by helping the individual develop emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills, mindfulness, and effective communication in relationships says Engle.
  • Family therapy : This form of therapy can be helpful in situations where anger is often directed at family members, such as when a young adult has unresolved anger toward a parent. It can help you work together to improve communication and resolve issues.
  • Psychodynamic therapy : Psychodynamic therapy can help you examine the psychological roots of your anger and your response to it so you can identify and correct unhealthy patterns.

Your mental healthcare provider will evaluate your circumstances and specific behaviors to determine the overall approach to treatment and whether you require medication in addition to therapy, says Engle. 

Anger Management Therapy Techniques

Anger management therapy techniques can involve understanding your triggers and responses to anger, learning strategies to manage or diffuse it, and changing thoughts and attitudes related to anger. Engle outlines some of these techniques below.

Identifying Triggers and Responses

Therapy can help you develop a better understanding of the factors that contribute to your expressions of anger, such as current and past triggers . You also begin to better understand your responses to anger and the consequences or aftereffects on you and your relationships. 

For instance, through anger management therapy, you may realize that yelling at your spouse is related to observing your parents yell when growing up. Or, you may learn that you engage in this behavior because you believe you'll only get what you want if you yell.

Learning Strategies to Diffuse Anger

Anger management therapy can equip you with strategies to disrupt your anger or manage your response to it through avoidance or distraction. A therapist can help you problem-solve how to respond when you’re angry.

Role-playing offers opportunities to practice skills that can enhance anger control, such as assertiveness and direct communication.

Therapy can also teach you coping strategies and relaxation techniques. You can learn about deep breathing , leaving the room and returning when you're collected, or using a relaxing image to alleviate the intensity of anger.

Changing Attitudes and Thought Patterns

Therapy can also involve restructuring thinking and changing attitudes related to anger , particularly if a CBT approach is used. The therapist will help you examine your attitudes and ways of thinking to identify patterns that might exacerbate anger, such as ruminating, catastrophizing, judging, fortune-telling, or magnifying. 

Your therapist will also work with you to practice changing your response patterns. They can encourage forgiveness and compassion, offer ways to let go of hurt and disappointment, and help you repair and accept ruptured relationships.

Assessing Anger Management Issues

Unsure whether you might benefit from anger management therapy? This short, free 21-item test measures a variety of symptoms and feelings associated with anger, such as anger about the present and future, anger toward oneself, and hostile feelings toward others.

This anger quiz was medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS.

What Anger Management Therapy Can Help With

While anger management is a form of treatment designed to help you manage anger, anger is not officially a condition that is diagnosed or defined, like depression or anxiety, for instance. However, intense, destructive, or uncontrollable anger may cause significant distress and impairment and impact safety, says Engle.

Rage, persistent anger, or angry outbursts can have detrimental consequences for physical health, quality of life, and relationships

Anger management therapy can help anyone who experiences rage or has angry outbursts. It can help improve your:

  • Mental health : Anger can consume your focus, cloud your judgment, and deplete your energy. It is also associated with other mental health conditions, such as depression and substance use disorders .
  • Physical health : Anger manifests physically in the body with a surge of adrenaline, a rapid rise in heartbeat, higher blood pressure, and increased muscle tension in the form of a clenched jaw or fisted hands, says Engle. Over time, this can take a toll on your health and lead to physical health conditions.
  • Career : Anger can make it hard to focus on school or work and affects performance. It can also harm relationships with peers. While creative differences, constructive criticism, and healthy debates can be productive, lashing out or having angry outbursts can alienate peers and lead to negative consequences.
  • Relationships : Anger often harms loved ones the most and can take a toll on your relationships with them. It can make it difficult for others to be comfortable around you, erode their trust and respect, and be especially damaging to children .

Anger management therapy is sometimes court-ordered in case a person has committed criminal offenses, such as:

  • Assault or sexual assault
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Domestic abuse or violence

Benefits of Anger Management Therapy

Anger management therapy can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. It can help you:

  • Identify triggers: Knowing what situations trigger your anger can help you avoid them or manage your reaction to them.
  • Change your thinking: Anger management can help you identify and change unhealthy thought patterns that fuel your anger.
  • Develop coping skills: Therapy can help you regulate your emotions, control your actions, and develop skills to help you cope with situations that trigger your anger.
  • Learn relaxation techniques: Your therapist may teach you relaxation techniques to help you calm down and relax your body and mind .
  • Solve problems: If certain situations trigger your anger repeatedly, your therapist may encourage you to look for solutions or alternatives. 
  • Improve communication: Anger management therapy can help you express your feelings in a healthy, respectful, or assertive manner, without being aggressive.

Effectiveness of Anger Management Therapy

Engle shares that CBT, which is often used to treat anger, is a very effective approach. CBT is an empirically-supported treatment that takes a skills-based approach to anger management with emphasis on awareness of thoughts, behavioral patterns, and skill development with respect to physical and emotional reactions to anger.

A 2017 study found that CBT was helpful to table tennis players with anger management issues. Even one year after completing treatment, participants were less likely to negatively express anger or react angrily. A 2020 study added that anger management therapy was beneficial to patients with HIV.

If you find yourself arguing often, becoming violent, breaking things, threatening others, or getting arrested because of incidents related to your anger, you may need to seek anger management therapy.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues

Some mental health issues commonly co-occur with anger. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one. Anger is also so common with a few other mental disorders that it is one of the criteria for diagnosis. These disorders include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder

“As with any form of treatment, it can be beneficial to seek out the support and experience of a trained mental health professional," says Engle. "Professional evaluation and consultation can help identify any co-occurring mental health issues like trauma or substance use.”

A mental healthcare provider can determine if co-occurring disorders play a predominant role or how they can best be addressed in combination with anger management, says Engle. They can also help determine an appropriate treatment plan.

How to Get Started With Anger Management Therapy

To begin anger management therapy, look for a trained mental health professional who specializes in this form of treatment. By specializing in anger, the professional knows what strategies are most effective for reducing these feelings.

Depending on your preferences, you can choose to opt for individual treatment or group therapy . Individual therapy sessions offer more privacy and one-on-one interaction whereas group therapy sessions can help you recognize that you don't have to go through this alone.

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Anger can take a toll on your health, relationships, and career. Anger management therapy can help you regulate your emotions, maintain self-control, develop coping strategies, and communicate effectively.

Hyoeun Lee A, DiGiuseppe R. Anger and aggression treatments: a review of meta-analyses . Curr Opin Psychol . 2018;19:65-74. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.04.004

Ciesinski NK, Sorgi-Wilson KM, Cheung JC, Chen EY, McCloskey MS. The effect of dialectical behavior therapy on anger and aggressive behavior: A systematic review with meta-analysis . Behav Res Ther . 2022;154:104122. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2022.10411

Diamond GM, Shahar B, Sabo D, Tsvieli N. Attachment-based family therapy and emotion-focused therapy for unresolved anger: The role of productive emotional processing . Psychother . 2016;53(1):34-44. doi:10.1037/pst0000025

Town JM, Falkenström F, Abbass A, Stride C. The anger-depression mechanism in dynamic therapy: Experiencing previously avoided anger positively predicts reduction in depression via working alliance and insight . J Counsel Psychol . 2022;69(3):326-336. doi:10.1037/cou0000581

Coccaro EF, Fridbert DJ, Fanning JR, Grant JE, King AC, Lee R. Substance use disorders: Relationship with intermittent explosive disorder and with aggression, anger, and impulsivity . J Psychiatric Res . 2016;81:127-132. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.06.011

Steffgen G. Anger management: evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral training program for table tennis players . J Hum Kinet . 2017;55:65-73. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0006

Lotfalizadeh M, Miri S, Foroughameri G, Farokhzadian J. The effect of anger management skills training on anger status of the people with HIV . Perspect Psychiatr Care . 2020;56(3):605-613. doi:10.1111/ppc.12475

National Center for PTSD. Anger and PTSD .

Fernandez E, Johnson SL. Anger in psychological disorders: Prevalence, presentation, etiology and prognostic implications . Clin Psychol Rev . 2016;46:124-135. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2016.04.012

American Psychological Association. Control anger before it controls you .

American Psychological Association. Understanding anger: How psychologists help with anger problems .

National Library of Medicine. Learn to manage your anger .

By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

Sending Homework to Clients in Therapy: The Easy Way

Homework in therapy

Successful therapy relies on using assignments outside of sessions to reinforce learning and practice newly acquired skills in real-world settings (Mausbach et al., 2010).

Up to 50% of clients don’t adhere to homework compliance, often leading to failure in CBT and other therapies (Tang & Kreindler, 2017).

In this article, we explore how to use technology to create homework, send it out, and track its completion to ensure compliance.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

Is homework in therapy important, how to send homework to clients easily, homework in quenza: 5 examples of assignments, 5 counseling homework ideas and worksheets, using care pathways & quenza’s pathway builder, a take-home message.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has “been shown to be as effective as medications in the treatment of a number of psychiatric illnesses” (Tang & Kreindler, 2017, p. 1).

Homework is a vital component of CBT, typically involving completing a structured and focused activity between sessions.

Practicing what was learned in therapy helps clients deal with specific symptoms and learn how to generalize them in real-life settings (Mausbach et al., 2010).

CBT practitioners use homework to help their clients, and it might include symptom logs, self-reflective journals , and specific tools for working on obsessions and compulsions. Such tasks, performed outside therapy sessions, can be divided into three types (Tang & Kreindler, 2017):

  • Psychoeducation Reading materials are incredibly important early on in therapy to educate clients regarding their symptoms, possible causes, and potential treatments.
  • Self-assessment Monitoring their moods and completing thought records can help clients recognize associations between their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Modality specific Therapists may assign homework that is specific and appropriate to the problem the client is presenting. For example, a practitioner may use images of spiders for someone with arachnophobia.

Therapists strategically create homework to lessen patients’ psychopathology and encourage clients to practice skills learned during therapy sessions, but non-adherence (between 20% and 50%) remains one of the most cited reasons for CBT failure (Tang & Kreindler, 2017).

Reasons why clients might fail to complete homework include (Tang & Kreindler, 2017):

Internal factors

  • Lack of motivation to change what is happening when experiencing negative feelings
  • Being unable to identify automatic thoughts
  • Failing to see the importance or relevance of homework
  • Impatience and the wish to see immediate results

External factors

  • Effort required to complete pen-and-paper exercises
  • Inconvenience and amount of time to complete
  • Failing to understand the purpose of the homework, possibly due to lack of or weak instruction
  • Difficulties encountered during completion

Homework compliance is associated with short-term and long-term improvement of many disorders and unhealthy behaviors, including anxiety, depression, pathological behaviors, smoking, and drug dependence (Tang & Kreindler, 2017).

Greater homework adherence increases the likelihood of beneficial therapy outcomes (Mausbach et al., 2010).

With that in mind, therapy must find ways to encourage the completion of tasks set for the client. Technology may provide the answer.

The increased availability of internet-connected devices, improved software, and widespread internet access enable portable, practical tools to enhance homework compliance (Tang & Kreindler, 2017).

How to send homework

Clients who complete their homework assignments progress better than those who don’t (Beck, 2011).

Having an ideal platform for therapy makes it easy to send and track clients’ progress through assignments. It must be “user-friendly, accessible, reliable and secure from the perspective of both coach and client” (Ribbers & Waringa, 2015, p. 103).

In dedicated online therapy and coaching software, homework management is straightforward. The therapist creates the homework then forwards it to the client. They receive a notification and complete the work when it suits them. All this is achieved in one system, asynchronously; neither party needs to be online at the same time.

For example, in Quenza , the therapist can create a worksheet or tailor an existing one from the library as an activity that asks the client to reflect on the progress they have made or work they have completed.

The activity can either be given directly to the client or group, or included in a pathway containing other activities.

Here is an example of the activity parameters that Quenza makes possible.

Quenza Homework

A message can be attached to the activity, using either a template or a personally tailored message for the client. Here’s an example.

Quenza Sending message

Once the activity is published and sent, the client receives a notification about a received assignment via their coaching app (mobile or desktop) or email.

The client can then open the Quenza software and find the new homework under their ‘To Do’ list.

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Quenza provides the ability to create your own assignments as well as a wide selection of existing ones that can be assigned to clients for completion as homework.

The following activities can be tailored to meet specific needs or used as-is. Therapists can share them with the client individually or packaged into dedicated pathways.

Such flexibility allows therapists to meet the specific needs of the client using a series of dedicated and trackable homework.

Examples of Quenza’s ready-to-use science-based activities include the following:

Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life is a valuable tool for identifying and reflecting on a client’s satisfaction with life.

You can find the worksheet in the Positive Psychology Toolkit© , and it is also included in the Quenza library. The client scores themselves between 1 and 10 on specific life domains (the therapist can tailor the domains), including relationships, career development, and leisure time.

This is an active exercise to engage the client early on in therapy to reflect on their current and potential life. What is it like now? How could it look?

Quenza Wheel of life

The wheel identifies where there are differences between perceived balance and reality .

The deep insights it provides can provide valuable input and prioritization for goal setting.

The Private Garden: A Visualization for Stress Reduction

While stress is a normal part of life, it can become debilitating and interfere with our everyday lives, stopping us from reaching our life goals.

We may notice stress as worry, anxiety, and tension and resort to avoidant or harmful behaviors (e.g., abusing alcohol, smoking, comfort eating) to manage these feelings.

Visualization is simple but a powerful method for reducing physical and mental stress, especially when accompanied by breathing exercises.

The audio included within this assignment helps the listener visualize a place of safety and peace and provides a temporary respite from stressful situations.

20 Guidelines for Developing a Growth Mindset

Research into neuroplasticity has confirmed the ability of the adult brain to continue to change in adulthood and the corresponding capacity for people to develop and transform their mindsets (Dweck, 2017).

The 20 guidelines (included in our Toolkit and part of the Quenza library) and accompanying video explain our ability to change mentally and develop a growth mindset that includes accepting imperfection, leaning into challenges, continuing to learn, and seeing ‘failure’ as an opportunity for growth.

Adopting a growth mindset can help clients understand that our abilities and understanding are not fixed; we can develop them in ways we want with time and effort.


Committing to change is accepted as an effective way to promote behavioral change – in health and beyond. When a client makes a contract with themselves, they explicitly state their intention to deliver on plans and short- and long-term goals.

Completing and signing such a self-contract (included in our Toolkit and part of the Quenza library) online can help people act on their commitment through recognizing and living by their values.

Not only that, the contract between the client and themselves can be motivational, building momentum and self-efficacy.

Quenza Self contract

The contract can be automatically personalized to include the client’s name but also manually reworded as appropriate.

The client completes the form by restating their name and committing to a defined goal by a particular date, along with their reasons for doing so.

Realizing Long-Lasting Change by Setting Process Goals

We can help clients realize their goals by building supportive habits. Process goals – for example, eating healthily and exercising – require ongoing actions to be performed regularly.

Process goals (unlike end-state goals, such as saving up for a vacation) require long-lasting and continuous change that involves monitoring standards.

This tool (included in our Toolkit and part of the Quenza library) can help clients identify positive actions (rather than things to avoid) that they must carry out repeatedly to realize change.

Quenza realizing long-lasting change

We have many activities that can be used to help clients attending therapy for a wide variety of issues.

In this section, we consider homework ideas that can be used in couples therapy, family therapy, and supporting clients with depression and anxiety.

Couples therapy homework

Conflict is inevitable in most long-term relationships. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies and individual set of needs. The Marital Conflicts worksheet captures a list of situations in which conflicts arise, when they happen, and how clients feel when they are (un)resolved.

Family therapy homework

Families, like individuals, are susceptible to times of stress and disruptions because of life changes such as illness, caring for others, and job and financial insecurity.

Mind the Gap is a family therapy worksheet where a family makes decisions together to align with goals they aspire to. Mind the gap is a short exercise to align with values and improve engagement.

How holistic therapist Jelisa Glanton uses Quenza

Homework ideas for depression and anxiety: 3 Exercises

The following exercises are all valuable for helping clients with the effects of anxiety and depression.

Activity Schedule is a template assisting a client with scheduling and managing normal daily activities, especially important for those battling with depression.

Activity Menu is a related worksheet, allowing someone with depression to select from a range of normal activities and ideas, and add these to a schedule as goals for improvement.

The Pleasurable Activity Journal focus on activities the client used to find enjoyable. Feelings regarding these activities are journaled, to track recovery progress.

Practicing mindfulness is helpful for those experiencing depression (Shapiro, 2020). A regular gratitude practice can develop new neural pathways and create a more grateful, mindful disposition (Shapiro, 2020).

Quenza Activity Builder

Each activity can be tailored to the client’s needs; shared as standalone exercises, worksheets, or questionnaires; or included within a care pathway.

A pathway is an automated and scheduled series of activities that can take the client through several stages of growth, including psychoeducation , assessment, and action to produce a behavioral change in a single journey.

How to build pathways

The creator can add two pathway titles. The second title is not necessary, but if entered, it is seen by the client in place of the first.

Once named, a series of steps can be created and reordered at any time, each containing an activity. Activities can be built from scratch, modified from existing ones in the library, or inserted as-is.

New activities can be created and used solely in this pathway or made available for others. They can contain various features, including long- and short-answer boxes, text boxes, multiple choice boxes, pictures, diagrams, and audio and video files.

Quenza can automatically deliver each step or activity in the pathway to the client following the previous one or after a certain number of days. Such timing is beneficial when the client needs to reflect on something before completing the next step.

Practitioners can also designate steps as required or optional before the client continues to the next one.

Practitioners can also add helpful notes not visible to the client. These comments can contain practical reminders of future changes or references to associated literature that the client does not need to see.

It is also possible to choose who can see client responses: the client and you, the client only, or the client decides.

Tags help categorize the pathway (e.g., by function, intended audience, or suggested timing within therapy) and can be used to filter what is displayed on the therapist’s pathway screen.

Once designed, the pathway can be saved as a draft or published and sent to the client. The client receives the notification of the new assignment either via email or the coaching app on their phone, tablet, or desktop.

therapy homework for anger

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Success in therapy is heavily reliant on homework completion. The greater the compliance, the more likely the client is to have a better treatment outcome (Mausbach et al., 2010).

To improve the likelihood that clients engage with and complete the assignments provided, homework must be appropriate to their needs, have a sound rationale, and do the job intended (Beck, 2011).

Technology such as Quenza can make homework readily available on any device, anytime, from any location, and ensure it contains clear and concise psychoeducation and instructions for completion.

The therapist can easily create, copy, and tailor homework and, if necessary, combine multiple activities into single pathways. These are then shared with the click of a button. The client is immediately notified but can complete it at a time appropriate to them.

Quenza can also send automatic reminders about incomplete assignments to the client and highlight their status to the therapist. Not only that, but any resulting questions can be delivered securely to the therapist with no risk of getting lost in a busy email inbox.

Why not try the Quenza application? Try using some of the existing science-based activities or create your own. It offers an impressive array of functionality that will not only help you scale your business, but also ensure proactive, regular communication with your existing clients.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .

  • Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond . Guilford Press.
  • Dweck, C. S. (2017).  Mindset: The new psychology of success.  Robinson.
  • Mausbach, B. T., Moore, R., Roesch, S., Cardenas, V., & Patterson, T. L. (2010). The relationship between homework compliance and therapy outcomes: An updated meta-analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research , 34 (5), 429–438.
  • Ribbers, A., & Waringa, A. (2015). E-coaching: Theory and practice for a new online approach to coaching . Routledge.
  • Shapiro, S. L. (2020).  Rewire your mind: Discover the science and practice of mindfulness. Aster.
  • Tang, W., & Kreindler, D. (2017). Supporting homework compliance in cognitive behavioural therapy: Essential features of mobile apps. JMIR Mental Health , 4 (2).

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