When dealing with everyday anger the first clinical intervention is to educate the client on the important distinction between anger and aggression. Anger is FEELING! aggression is DOING! Learning to soothe and calm anger is the first step to only get angry when it suits YOU! Anger can be functional, adaptive and useful as it can help signal when something displeases us or is unfair. If you think of anger like any emotion as an internal smoke alarm signal that lets us know when something is wrong. WE can use the emotion as a motivational message to get busy pitting it right rather than passively absorbing or internalising it. The key to effective anger management is assertive expression. This takes time to master but CBT teaches this as a valuable social skill to help get what you want from others. Unfortunately with more extreme personality disorder presentations clients beliefs about experiencing and exprsing anger has developmental/childhood meanings attached to it by their earliest attachment relationships. This can lead to maladaptive behavioural ways of dealing with painful shameful feelings that were not validated or legitimised by early parental figures in the child’s life. is unfortunately can lead to aggression and maladaptive expression of primitive childhood feelings and withdrawal of support from others furthering the isolation of the client and deepening their hopelessness.
CBT can break the vicious cycle one step at a time by learning in a stepwise fashion to soothe/calm painful feelings using self instructional training. The expression of anger is the next step using empathy training and assertive communication skills to help get what you want from people and learning to self validate first.