Emotional & Mental Wellness
5 Myths About Anger Management And Why They’re Hurting You!
By Cody Mitts, A Licensed Professional Counselor
The 5 Most Common Myths About Anger Management
What do you think of when you hear the words anger management?
Do you imagine a room full of violent people yelling at each other?
Perhaps you picture Adam Sandler in the movie anger management. I have to admit that even though I specialize in anger management in Denver, Colorado I’ve never seen Adam’s movie.
You probably have some idea about what anger management might be like, or who would go to anger management group.
Some of these ideas might be what’s keeping you from getting the help you need with your anger.
It’s pretty normal to have some fear about counseling, and it might be even more common to have some fear about going to anger management counseling.
I’m going to share with you the 5 most common myths about anger management that often keep people from getting help with their anger, and why it’s important to change these stereotypes.
The 5 most common myths about anger management are:
1) Anger management is only for people forced to do counseling
2) Anger management is only for men
3) Anger management is full of violent or scary people
4) Anger is a bad emotion
5) You can’t change anger
Myth # 1 – Anger management is only for people forced to do counseling
There is the common misconception that the only people in anger management are people with a court order or someone being forced into counseling.
Hollywood often portrays group counseling as a room full of unwilling participants and a therapist asking silly questions.
As a therapist in Denver, Colorado I help people who struggle with anger and really want to get better. At least 90 percent of the people come to me because they realize that anger is a problem in their life.
When people attend my anger management group they often comment how surprised they are by the group. They often find more support than they expected, and are encouraged to learn that they can relate to the people in the group.
This misperception keeps a lot of people from seeking out help with anger because they think they wouldn’t fit in or be able to connect with the people in an anger management group.
Most people are surprised by the support and connection they find in our anger management group.
Myth # 2 – Anger management is only for men
I regularly get asked if my anger management group is co-ed and I get asked by both men and women.
One of the things we often discuss in anger management is that anger affects everyone! Out of control anger is not a problem that only affects men.
My experience as an anger management counselor has been that more men tend to come see me for help with their anger, but there are probably a few reasons for this trend.
I believe that perhaps the biggest reason more men seek out help with anger is a cultural problem. Many cultures (including my own) have trained us to believe that anger is a more appropriate emotion for men.
There seems to be more stigma for women who struggle with anger. Take sports for an example. If a man becomes aggressive and displays the emotion of anger in a sporting event we write it off as “part of the game.” Often times when a woman displays aggressive behavior we label it as a major problem.
The recent controversy with tennis player Serena Williams is a good example of this cultural phenomena that stirred some interesting conversation in our culture.
It’s important that both men and women recognize that women struggle with anger and that many women seek out help through anger management counseling.
Myth # 3 – People that go to anger management are violent or scary people
One of the common fears many people have about attending an anger management group is that it will be a room full of violent or intimidating people.
In our groups we specifically screen the people that join our groups to make sure we have a supportive and safe environment for therapy to take place.
Obviously I’m speaking from my own experience as a counselor that runs a private practice. There are likely some situations such as a therapist working in a prison where this stereotype might seem more accurate.
It’s also important to recognize there are different types of anger problems. Many of the men and women that come to anger management are some of the friendliest people you could meet, and you would probably be surprised to learn they struggle with anger.
In another article I explore why anger is often an emotion that “nice guys” can struggle with. You can check out that article here: Anger Management For Nice Guys.
Myth # 4 – Anger is a bad emotion
You might be wondering why I would say this is one of the myths about anger management.
I have put it on the top five list because it’s a myth that allows anger to continue being a problem.
If you think of anger as a dangerous, negative, or bad emotion you will probably try to avoid it.
It’s human nature to avoid the things you don’t like.
Avoiding anger is only going to give it more power, and it’s going to create more problems in your life.
A healthy way to change your relationship with anger is to think of it as an emotion that can be useful in the right situations but it’s not always needed.
If anger has caused a problem in your life you’ll probably have to start changing the way you think about it, and you can start by recognizing that anger isn’t a bad emotion!
Start paying attention to the ways you might try to avoid your anger as well. Most people that struggle with anger struggle with avoiding lots of emotions that feel uncomfortable.
Myth # 5 – You can’t change anger
The way that I see this myth is typically from statements like these.
“Well I’m Italian and being loud and angry is just in my blood.”
“I grew up in Chicago, and we’re just naturally angry people.”
“My grandpa had a problem with anger, my dad had a problem with anger, and now I have a problem with anger. It must be genetic.”
If your experience with anger has always been negative, it makes sense that it feels like a natural or genetic problem.
What I think is more accurate in these situations is that you learn how to be angry, but you’re not really born as an angry person.
If you believe that anger is just a part of who you are, it probably feels like you can’t really change it!
From my experience as an anger management therapist I’ve seen lots of people successfully change their anger.
I always remind people that anger is an emotion, just like sadness is an emotion, and all emotions come and go.
The way you think about your anger will determine how it functions in your life.
Understanding your anger will help you take control of anger
Why does any of this matter?
It’s important because all of these myths keep you from getting the help you might need.
One of the most important parts of changing anger is changing the way you think about anger.
If you continue to think of anger as a negative or unchangeable emotion you might not reach out for help.
The fear of anger management or the belief that anger counseling isn’t for people like you will prevent you from seeking out help as well.
Anger doesn’t have to be an unhealthy or destructive part of your life, and there are lots of ways that anger counseling can benefit your life.
If you’re struggling with anger don’t be afraid to reach out for the appropriate help. You can learn more by checking out this article: How To Control Your Anger – The 3 Things You Need To Know
Cody Mitts, MA, NCC, LPC
Cody is a therapist in a group practice in Denver, Colorado. As a counselor he loves helping people work through pain related to trauma and PTSD and also specializes in treating anger problems. Want to connect with Cody? You can call (720) 507-8170 or connect with him online by clicking the link below!
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