Treatment Of Anger & Rage

Anger Management Using REBT
Treatment of Unhealthy Anger

“Deciding to live your life with less anger may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make.”
– Albert Ellis, Ph.D.

 Unhealthy, unproductive anger is a terribly destructive human emotion. Unhealthy anger interferes with human relationships. It drives people apart, contributes to relationship breakups, divorce, and even violence. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is very useful for the person who experiences unproductive anger because it efficiently gets to the heart of the matter. In this treatment, the individual is quickly helped to develop skills for managing their unproductive anger and teaches them how to more effectively deal with interpersonal conflict. Analyzing your past, blaming your parents for having been poor models or simply having a warm relationship with a psychotherapist will not help you in learning how to control your unhealthy anger and replace it with healthy anger and assertive responding.

Here is a brief outline of the REBT approach to anger. It begins with the ABC model of anger:

(A) Activating Event

You perceive that another person has threatened your self-esteem

You perceive that another person has violated an important rule of yours

You perceive that another person or situation has frustrated or blocked your attempts to achieve an important goal in an area that is dear to you.

(B) Beliefs: Here you hold rigid and unhelpful beliefs which lead to your anger and rage. Anger can be directed at others, situations, or even yourself. Here are some examples:

You must not treat me poorly, unfairly or ridicule me.

You must respect me.

My damn computer must not break when I need it most. I cannot stand it.

The damn traffic jam must not occur when I have tickets to the ball game. I deserve better fortune and cannot bear this misfortune.

(C) Consequences of your beliefs:

Emotional consequence (Unhealthy Anger)

Behavioral consequence (You attack in an aggressive way, you attack in a passive aggressive way, or you withdraw aggressively)

Thinking consequence (You think about gaining revenge, you continuously think about how you or others were wronged, you are unable to see matter from the other person’s point of view)

Effective therapy for anger begins by acknowledging that something has occurred that is unfavorable to you. It also starts with identifying the unproductive aspects of your personal reaction to the unfavorable situation. It also distinguishes between an unhealthy anger response and a healthy and productive anger response. You will not be motivated to respond to unfavorable circumstances with healthy anger unless you see how your unhealthy angry response is interfering with you productively dealing with the obstacle or injustice you have encountered.

Next the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is introduced. It is used to show that although you may have been wronged by another person or blocked by life in some way your emotional response of unhealthy anger flows from unproductive, rigid beliefs about having been wronged or blocked. Once you see that (A) Activating Event does not entirely cause your feelings at (C) Consequence but that your beliefs or (B) play an important role in your unhealthy and self-defeating angry response there is acknowledgement that you can respond to the situation with healthy and productive anger. I will teach you how to question your unhelpful beliefs like “You must not treat me poorly (unfairly, ridicule me, etc.) and I cannot bear it when you do.” Through our discussions I will show you how to adopt a different and more productive belief like “I really want you to treat me fairly but I see that you do not have to treat me fairly. When you treat me unfairly I will surely protest and attempt to get you to treat me as I would like but until I am able to do so I will not make matters worse for me by demanding that my will be done. I see that such rigid thinking only leads to unproductive, unhealthy anger that does not allow me to effectively and creatively respond to the problem at hand.” Furthermore, in session we will rehearse assertive responses you can use to protest what you dislike and avoid reinforcing people who are treating you poorly.  I will assign challenging but not overwhelming homework assignments aimed at helping you change your unhealthy angry philosophy while assertively standing up for yourself.

In summary, the treatment of unhealthy anger begins with education about the relationship between your beliefs and the differences between unhealthy anger and healthy anger. It acknowledges others may misbehave towards you but I also emphasize the emotional choices you have. I will quickly zero in on your specific beliefs and begin to help you change those beliefs so you become liberated from the grip of unhealthy anger and rage. Finally, we will rehearse new behaviors and coping skills so that you can leave the session ready to take real steps in changing your behavior and responding to conflict with appropriate and self-helping assertive behavior. Lastly, between sessions I will send you Intermittent Reinforcement emails aimed at reminding you how to think and behave differently in your home, work and in social environments so that you make progress in an efficient manner. My goal is to teach you how to become resilient, experience healthy anger, increase assertive responding. My desire is that you become your own therapist so that you do not have to be a lifelong consumer of psychotherapeutic services nor be shackled by the chains of unhealthy anger and rage.

Phone: 212-750-2826 to schedule an appointment.



Dryden, W. (2003). The REBT Pocket Companion for Clients. New York: Albert Ellis Institute.