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Many people think of anger as a negative emotion, something they want to eliminate from their lives. I disagree - I believe that anger is an important and universal feeling, and one that serves some essential functions, such as giving us energy to take action, or courage to assert our needs. So, I don't think of "anger management" as a process of getting rid of anger, but rather a process of channeling your anger into more productive avenues, and responding more effectively when you are angry. If you're experiencing rage that feels uncontrollable, then we can work together to help you to reduce the intensity of your anger, partially by learning to understand your triggers and the cues that alert you to a rising level of frustration. It's much more realistic to work on changing your behavior before your anger escalates in a given moment. By working together on anger management, we can help you reach a point where anger is no longer controlling your life.

Many clients are referred to me for "anger management." Imagine their surprise when one of the first things I focus on is encouraging a clearer expression of the anger. I'm interested in what the core reason for all the anger actually is (rather than simply calling it "unreasonable" or "irrational"), not just trying to get rid of it (which won't work anyway). Feelings, no matter how intense and seemingly out-of-proportion, are always rational if we understand their real causes (usually our past experiences, fears, or expectations). True understanding and respect for our own wildness helps appropriately tame the wildness.

Many women and men experience chronic anger and are concerned about how this impacts their relationships, health, and job security. Anger can be associated with feeling mistreated, a sense of unfairness or injustice, or not being able to achieve your goals. It is often a "hard" emotion covering "soft" emotions such as sadness, fear, or hurt which involve a sense of vulnerability. Anger is not always bad or destructive. Anger can provide the necessary energy and courage to fight something scary or unjust. It is important to recognize when anger is toxic and leading to more suffering and pain than anything else. Getting an understanding of why you are chronically angry, what this anger costs you, and what you can change can help you free yourself to be happy. Holding on to toxic anger is essentially poisoning yourself.

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Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.

main phone: 303-547-3700

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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence