Understanding Counselling and Therapy
If this is your first time with counselling and therapy, you might be apprehensive about what it entails. Modern therapy is not at all like it’s portrayed in some films and TV shows. They are one reason counselling and therapy are often misunderstood. There is no ‘magic’ technique, or lying on a couch being hypnotized and the therapist does not ‘cure’ you.
Instead, the counsellor or therapist will work with you, to help you understand the root causes o any behaviours you want to change. Modern therapy is nothing like the old-fashioned stereotypical ideas some people have. Instead, today we use scientifically tested and validated methods, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which are proven and can be very effective.
At Safe Place Therapy, we don’t offer certified anger management courses but we do offer effective anger management counselling. If a Judge just mandates anger management, you can and should see us but if a certified course is needed then you must register for a course. We can and do still offer counseling to those who attend mandated courses.
You might be asking yourself ‘do anger management courses help?’.
The answer is ‘yes’ but only when done correctly. The roots of anger often run very deep and they can be hidden from you. That’s why It’s hard to fix ourselves, without help. That’s why you need the experience of an expert anger management counsellor.
Reaching out for expert help is a positive first step, that will help both get your anger under control and also understand where it comes from.
Anger often comes about because you feel blocked from doing something important to you, or because you feel you can’t control a situation.
In anger management therapy, the aim is not to eliminate anger altogether, which is impractical and unachievable. Anger is an emotion that we all feel. In the right situations, and channelled appropriately, anger can be a useful source of energy, that lets you get things done. What’s important is to give you insights into the sources of your anger and then tools to take control of your impulses.
When we say someone has problems with outwardly expressing anger, it’s often that they become excessively angry, or disproportionally and maybe irrationally angry, or uncontrollably angry. In a nutshell, there is a trigger then a reaction.
So, in Anger Management Therapy, there is usually a three-stage process.
We’ll first look at those triggers or cues that can start an anger outburst. These triggers or cues can be rational or irrational. In some cases, they can be based on distorted thinking about certain situations or people. In others, an angry reaction can really be about something else in your life (or in your past) and not really about the apparent cause.
Secondly, we’ll go through some practical techniques to get control of your anger. Anger is something all higher animals feel, and their bodies gear up for ‘fight or flight’. When we get really angry our body is flooded with chemicals and the upper reasoning and rational ‘executive’ part of our brain starts to pass control to the lower, older, instinctive and impulsive parts. We literally ‘flip our lid’. So, there are some practical exercises and techniques that are very effective in re-engaging our reasoning.
Thirdly, all this needs practice in a safe setting. Like any kind of learning, it takes a while to master new skills. Also, everyone is an individual and we are all different. So, part of the therapy process is trying out and refining the techniques that prove most effective to you.
Group vs. Individual therapy
At Safe Place Therapy we don’t offer generic group anger management courses. These general group course can help many people but are not always effective for everyone.
Group therapy gives all participants general information on coping strategies and supports to deal better with anger. That’s fine as far as it goes but sometimes we need to dig deeper.
In our experience, what is most beneficial and effective, is individual counselling around a person’s specific anger causes and behaviours, and the techniques that work best for them. This is because in one on one counselling, some people typically feel more comfortable ‘opening up’ than in front of a group, which can make them feel inhibited. This is especially the case where there is some trauma in a person’s life – past or present – that is contributing to the feelings of anger.
In one-on-one counselling, the therapist can also focus on tailored strategies that can work for that specific individual. Anger happens for different reasons with different people, so it is very important to focus on why the anger is popping up regularly for that individual. If that individual focus doesn’t happen, you are only treating symptoms, not curing the underlying problem. In those situations, anger management therapy might help for a while and up to a point, but not ‘stick’ in the longer term.
That’s why at Safe Place Therapy, we don’t really offer generic ‘anger management courses’ for all of the above reasons. Instead, our method is focusing more on working with individuals.
If you have been mandated to attend an anger management course, we can help with supplementary counselling.
If a Judge or some other person in authority says (or in the case of the Judge specifically stipulates) that you need to go on an anger management course, this is something we do not offer. However, Safe Place Therapy is a well-known and well-respected anger management therapy provider and we are happy to formally sign off on your attendance in coming.
How many therapy sessions are involved?
In our experience, a minimum of four sessions is needed to have an initial assessment and also start noticing some positive results and changes. Most people will carry on to do some additional sessions. Note that sessions typically include learning some techniques that you will need to practice yourself, so attending one session a week is a general rule of thumb.