Anger is a normal human emotion. Anger, mostly occurs when the events externally or internally are beyond our control. When I experience powerlessness in the face of a any situation and I cannot control the situation, it is normal to feel anger, despair, hopelessness or fear. When I direct the anger towards another being, that is when I cross the line. What most people do not know is that anger/rage are in direct proportion to how much pain that individual is in.
Therapist and The Angry Client
These are my tenets as the therapist:
- First, and foremost: commit to treat my client with compassion and respect at all times.
- Remember this anger is always multi-generational, one cannot be enraged unless they have learned the behavior from someone else, usually a parent.
- I will not take their anger personally.
- I will expand my ability to be present with the individual in front of me.
- I will not shame a client for their behavior.
- I will remember that I am a guide, not a leader. My client’s brain knows what it needs to heal, and I will use the tools I have as a therapist to guide the process.
- I do not believe in anger management. I believe a human being needs to heal from there own pain. However once a client enters my door, they need to be willing to take responsibility for their actions.
- If it is possible and appropriate, (when there is no fear of retaliation) I meet with the receivers of the anger, I will do my best to create a safe space. I do this for the benefit of all involved. My client needs to experience the full impact of his behavior without defending himself. The partner needs to express the hurt, the pain, and the anger without fearing my client’s defensive behaviors.
Disclaimer: I cannot do this perfectly. I will make mistakes. When that happens, I will make things right between me and my client.
Anger Permanently Affects the Other
The writer and therapist John Bradshaw says “stick and stones may break my bones, but words last forever”. Unfortunately, the truth is that when a child experiences the anger and/or rage of a parent, they have no tools to protect themselves, and most of the time they actually believe they deserve the energy directed their way. The more anger that a person has had directed at them, the more they internalize it. Their internal critic becomes as mean and as nasty as the parent that yelled at them. Some cower from anger, their body being on high alert, (hyper vigilant), others respond with equal anger and rage.