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Anger Management Counseling: What Causes You Pain?

Therapist: “It must have made you very angry when your father yelled and criticized you in front of your boyfriend.”

Client: “I’m not angry anymore.”

Therapist: “That’s true. You don’t feel angry. Your anger has been down there so long you’ve lost touch with it. But it’s an obstacle to your health and happiness, and you aren’t even aware of it. We need to make you aware of it so you can get rid of it once and for all. It’s a pain you cannot feel.”

Client: “That doesn’t make sense! How can I have a feeling I can’t feel?”

Therapist: “Now you’ve got it. Feelings don’t always make sense.”

Client: “I make sense. I’m a logical and rational woman.”

Therapist: “Yes you are, until your feelings from the past kick in and take over. They override your adult judgment.”

Client: “Yeah, come to think of it. I remember one time when I was a kid, I went to a movie with my family. I didn’t know what it was about it. I started to cry. I couldn’t stop. I had to go home. My father laughed at me for crying. He told my relatives all about it. He did that so many times.”

Therapist: “Your father shamed you, he expected you to be perfect, no ‘weakness’ in your character. He got very angry when you let him down. He took it personally. He didn’t know how else to take it.”

Client: “I stopped telling my problems to my parents. I couldn’t trust them.”

Therapist: “Did that make things better?”

Client: “No. I didn’t expect ‘better,’ only ‘less worse.’ After my mom died, I had no one at all to talk too, not even my sister.”

Therapist: “You were all you had. Did you feel alone, rejected? Did you feel unloved and helpless?”

Client: “Yes, I still do. All the time.”

Therapist: “When did you get over these painful lessons about your parents, yourself, and towards life?”

Client: “Never. I didn’t even know they were down there until now. What do you mean lessons about myself?”

Therapist: “You may have learned from your childhood experiences that, I don’t belong and there’s nothing I can do about it!”

Client: “That sounds like me.”

Therapist: “What was your attitude toward life growing up?”

Client: “My attitude toward life? With all these strikes against me, I haven’t got a chance, so what’s the use of trying? There wasn’t anything I could do about anything!”

Therapist: “Except protect yourself by avoiding talking about your problems. You swallowed your anger and grief at all these betrayals of your trust. Later, you found that you could escape from the pain by pushing others away with anger! That was your solution, the cure for what ailed you!”

Client: “What’s wrong with that?”

Therapist: “It didn’t scratch where you itched. The pain is still down there.”

Client: “Which pain?”

Therapist: “The pain from your anger at others and at yourself. The pain from your anger at life for treating you so unfairly. You don’t deserve this grief, but you’ve got it anyway.”

Client: “Well, I don’t want it anymore!”

Therapist: “The fact that you haven’t thought about it for years doesn’t mean you’re free from it. It’s still down there and it only takes one snowflake to cause an avalanche. If something new happens in the present to make you angry, your old wounds will resurface, and your pain will hurt all over again.”

Client: “So I just won’t let myself get angry!”

Therapist: “That isn’t a realistic choice. All humans get angry sooner or later. And when you do, you bottled up feelings will spill out and you’ll blowup. You will be sensitive to anything that reminds you of that early victimization by your parents and so many others. That wound is still down there bleeding. We want it to heal.”

Client: “I’m handling it all right.”

Therapist: “Denial is not ‘handling,’ it is ‘postponing.’ It will still be there tomorrow. Nothing has changed. In the meantime, your life is more difficult than it needs to be. This is your chance to break the chain that binds you to your unhappy past. Do you deserve a break today?”

Client: “Yes. I’m way overdue.”

Anger Management Counseling: What Causes You Pain?

Aaron Karmin


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APA Reference
Karmin, A. (2018). Anger Management Counseling: What Causes You Pain?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 12, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/anger/2018/10/anger-management-counseling-what-causes-you-pain/

 

Last updated: 29 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Oct 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.