How can you help angry clients practice staying calm?

By Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, MS, LPC

As therapists, it’s important to help our clients identify and understand where their anger is coming from so that they can feel more in control of their behavior. Teaching your client to tame the raw emotion of anger will help them channel and release their anger in more appropriate ways.

First, identify things that spark their anger. These could be anything from common everyday annoyances to anger-inducing events. Help them learn the skills to deal with or even avoid these irritating stimuli. Next, gain an understanding of how your client negatively handles their anger. Then, help find more productive ways for them to express themselves. This can be done by behavioral substitution, or implementing a new behavior. For example, if you’re dealing with a shouter, role-play how to speak calmly. If you’re working with someone who closes up, suggest using words or written ways to express the angry emotions. A great technique to help clients monitor and keep track of their progress is by using a behavioral or personal journal.

Clients who struggle with anger usually don’t put much thought into the emotion, they simply respond to it, only to suffer much regret for their angry outbursts. By teaching your clients to identify and understand the source of their anger and helping them express themselves appropriately, you will empower them to tame the anger within. 

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, MS, LPC, is a national board-certified counselor and licensed professional counselor. Lohmann has worked as a school counselor at middle and high school levels, and has helped hundreds of teens deal with feelings of frustration and anger. She has participated in extensive research on anger, and specializes in individual and group counseling for anger management. She is author of The Anger Workbook for Teens and Staying Cool…When You’re Steaming Mad, and coauthor of The Bullying Workbook for Teens and The Sexual Trauma Workbook for Teen Girls, recently published.

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