Five Anger Management Myths

Here are some of the largest myths about Anger Management:

Myth #1: Anger management is only for individuals who have been incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. Anyone can benefit from anger management! Anger Management programs teach communication skills, stress management techniques, and Emotional Intelligence skills.  Most people will benefit and lead happier lives from learning these skills.

Myth #2: Anger Management is free or is covered by insurance. Anger is an emotion. Rage, or aggression, is a learned behavior. Neither of these are mental disorders. Anger is not a medical diagnosis and anger management is not psychotherapy, therefore, it is not covered by health insurance. Since anger management is mandated for some individuals, there is a misconception that these programs are free. They are not. Additionally, some programs may include anger management as a part of their program, like in substance abuse programs. In these settings, when Anger Management is not the main intervention or focus, the benefits are usually minimal.

Myth #3: Psychotherapy is the same thing as anger management. Anger management is a skills-based class or program in which participants learn practical tools to effectively manage their anger through the use of a curriculum or workbook.  Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, is a process where psychological problems are treated through communication interventions between an individual and a licensed mental health professional. Many clinicians in private practice advertise that they provide anger management when in fact they are providing psychotherapy. Many studies show that psychotherapy alone does not help improve anger management.  Anger management providers have special training and are certified in Anger Management.

Myth #4: Anger Management programs are only for people who rage all the time. Although some people lose control all the time, most do not. The leading reason people attend anger management is because it is affecting a relationship.  Typically, participants lose control to varying degrees at home with a significant other, child, or family member.  Other participants also report a loss of control at work when there is an ongoing unmet need, extreme stress or a hostile work environment.

Myth #5: Only Men seek Anger Management, as men are angrier then women. Research consistently shows that men are no more likely than women to be angry. In fact, women report feeling anger more often and for longer periods of time. Women likely seek anger management less often because of the messages society sends to them about their anger and gender. These messages say it is less acceptable for women to be angry, which causes more guilt and shame about these aggressive behaviors. If someone feels guilt and shame, they are less likely to seek help or support. Therefore, this message typically deters women from seeking help or talking about their anger.  On the other hand, men are told to “be tough,” “stand up for yourself,” “be aggressive,” “stop crying,” and to “quit acting like a girl,” among other messages, which makes it more acceptable for men to seek anger management.

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