Are you the one who gets angry easily? Does this anger turn into a rage? Have you been looking out for anger management strategies to deal with your uncontrollable anger? Do say things in the heat of the moment and regret later for having said them?
If you are enduring anger issues, this post will help you understand anger as an emotion and how you can control anger using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
One of the major follies attached with anger as an emotion is a fact that we as a society only attach negativity with its expression. Whereas, there are a host of reasons why anger exists in our emotional repertoire.
As Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. puts in her anger management book ‘The Dance of Anger’ –
“Anger is something we feel. It exists for a reason and always deserves our respect and attention. We all have a right to everything we feel – and certainly, our anger is no exception.”
Thus, before going into anger management using DBT, let’s first understand in what way is anger necessary for human beings.
Why is Anger as An Emotion Necessary For Humans?
Typically, anger is taken to be a negative emotion despite its importance in our survival. However, against this common belief, anger as an emotion is important and beneficial for human existence.
For instance, anger is important for the survival of human beings. This is because when in its grip, our body goes through physiological changes like sweating, racing heartbeat, and biological changes like the release of hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and a stress hormone called cortisol.
The adrenaline and noradrenaline trigger the fight or flight response in the body. Whereas cortisol release increases results in an increase in energy levels. These together compel the individual for action.
Therefore, when faced with a physical threat or danger, the ‘fight or flight mode’ and the increased cortisol push you to take action for your survival or safety. For example, in situations where one is attacked by a predator or feared to be attacked by someone, it is anger that drives one to defend himself from the attack.
Likewise, it motivates you to find solutions to problems of life as it compels you for doing something to resolve the issue.
However, it becomes problematic when it turns chronic. Excessive anger can make one lose all the capacity to think and behave in unreasonable ways. For instance, too much anger drives people to abuse, resort to molestation, pull triggers, etc.
How Can You Control Anger Using DBT?
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) for anger management is a skill that includes undertaking actions that are in contrast to what your emotions ask you to perform.
It is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) technique that concentrates on boosting one’s potential to deal with intense emotions like anger in healthy ways. DBT as a technique was initially developed with the intent to cure borderline personality disorder (BPD) and was given by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the early 1990s.
This technique involves a process called dialectics which is philosophical. As per this process, change takes place when there is a dialogue between two opposing energies. Further, this therapy assumes that:
- all things are interlinked
- people are doing their best
- people seeking therapy are willing to change or become better
- people need to try hard and do better
- change is one thing that’s constant and inescapable
- all behavior is created
- people may not have created the problems they are facing, but it depends on them to solve such problems regardless of anything
- Working on finding causes of such behavior and altering them is more effective than playing the blame game
- New, improved behavior must be learned
- ave and that opposites can be connected to formulate a closer approximation of the truth.
How Does DBT Work?
This therapy involves the person seeking anger control to take ownership of his/her recovery and do the necessary homework. This involves tracing their emotions, behaviors, and urges.
In this therapy, both the person and therapist come together to solve the evident conflict between self-acceptance and induce skill training which involves motivating for positive behaviors.
In addition to this, DBT also assumes that the issues showcased by people are the result of a deficiency in skills. In other words, the reason why people are not able to exhibit effective behaviors is that they are not aware of skillful behavior or do know when and how to undertake such a behavior.
Skills training in DBT teaches people a host of skills to build on their ability to utilize such skills in routine life.
These skills include:
- Mindfulness – that is being conscious of the current moment without any judgments
- Emotion Regulation – includes becoming informed about one’s emotions, susceptibility to them, and ways in which one can alter undesirable emotions
- Distress Tolerance – being able to make it through disastrous times by accepting the reality and not making things terrible;e for oneself
- Interpersonal Effectiveness – boosting self-respect in one’s relationships, meeting interpersonal goals, and maintaining relationships.
Using Dearman Technique for Interpersonal Effectiveness
There are several modes used for implementing DBT. These include:
- Individual therapy
- Skills training
- Coaching phone calls
- Therapist consultation
- Ancillary treatments
As mentioned above, the skills training involves teaching skills like mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation. Now, a host of tools and techniques are used under different DBT modes. One of the tools used for teaching interpersonal skills includes the DEARMAN technique.
DEARMAN is an acronym for:
D- describe, where the person seeking therapy clearly and precisely describes the facts related to a particular situation. Say, your partner leaves his used towel, clothes, and other items of the wardrobe on the bed, all scattered and messed up before leaving for work in the morning.
In this case, you clearly state that I witness that after getting ready for work, you leave the room all messed up, and which I end up cleaning.
E- express where using ‘I’ statements you clearly say your feelings in a very peaceful and purposeful way. For instance, you may say here that I feel as if you are tracking undue advantage of me when you leave the room all messed up. I feel disgusted when I see the room in such a state.
A- assert, where you used certain words to put forth or request what you want out of your partner.
For instance, you may say that ‘i want you to pick up your clothes and put them in the cupboard before leaving for work.
R – reinforce where support a particular outcome through your words and body language.
A – appear confident where you make eye contact and stand straight when you speak.
N – negotiate where you understand the limitations and understand the degree to which you can be frank.
Thus, anger is not something that can be suppressed. However, it can be regulated and checked using DBT so that it does not become chronic and impede your routine functioning.