A college student laughs with her friend after using CBT for anger management.

Using CBT for Anger Management

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people develop an awareness of their anger triggers and responses to anger.


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How CBT treats anger management

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective approach for treating people struggling with anger management. By working with a therapist, a person can learn to identify and challenge the negative thought patterns that contribute to their anger. Through CBT, people can also develop healthy coping skills, such as relaxation techniques and problem-solving strategies, to better manage their emotions. Additionally, CBT can help people improve their communication and interpersonal skills, leading to more constructive ways of expressing and resolving their anger. CBT can empower people to take control of their emotions and make positive changes in their lives.

Skills taught in CBT for anger management

Anger awareness

The first skill taught in CBT for anger management is developing an awareness of one’s anger triggers and physical and emotional responses to anger. This involves recognizing the signs of anger and understanding the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to anger.

Cognitive restructuring

This skill involves identifying and challenging irrational and unhelpful thoughts contributing to anger. People learn to reframe their thinking and adopt more balanced and realistic perspectives, which can help reduce anger and improve coping.

Stress management

Participants learn stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation, to help reduce the physiological arousal associated with anger and improve overall emotional regulation.

Communication skills

Effective communication is critical to managing anger in interpersonal situations. People learn how to express their needs and concerns assertively, listen actively to others, and navigate conflicts in a constructive and respectful manner.


This skill teaches individuals how to effectively identify and address the underlying issues contributing to their anger. Through problem-solving techniques, people can learn to find practical and effective solutions to their frustration and anger sources.

Emotional regulation

CBT for anger management also teaches skills for managing and regulating overwhelming emotions. This may include learning to tolerate distress, self-soothe, and engage in activities promoting calm and relaxation.

Empathy and perspective-taking

Developing empathy and the ability to see situations from different perspectives can help reduce anger and improve understanding in interpersonal relationships. People learn to consider the feelings and experiences of others, which can reduce conflict and enhance empathy.

Anger coping strategies

Participants learn various coping strategies, such as time-outs, distraction techniques, and self-talk, to help manage and diffuse anger in an intense moment. These skills can help individuals avoid impulsively reacting in ways that may exacerbate their anger.

Behavioral activation

Engaging in pleasurable and meaningful activities can help improve mood and reduce anger. People learn to identify and engage in activities that bring them joy and fulfillment to combat anger and enhance overall well-being.

Relapse prevention

Finally, individuals learn strategies for maintaining the skills they have learned and preventing relapse into old patterns of anger and reactivity. This may involve creating a plan for managing high-risk situations and seeking ongoing support as needed.

Benefits of CBT for anger management

CBT has been shown to have long-term benefits on people’s ability to manage their anger. Many people who have undergone CBT have reported a significant reduction in their anger and are better able to handle difficult situations without becoming overwhelmed. Over time, CBT has been proven to help people develop healthier coping mechanisms, improve their communication skills, and build stronger relationships, ultimately leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

How quickly does CBT work for anger management?

People who participate in CBT for anger management often report seeing positive results relatively quickly. Cognitive restructuring and coping skills help people learn to better manage their emotions and reactions in various situations. By addressing thought patterns and behavior, many people find that CBT helps them develop healthier ways of dealing with their anger.

Coping skills for anger management?

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques

Taking deep breaths and practicing relaxation techniques can help people calm down and reduce the physical tension and arousal associated with anger. By focusing on their breath and allowing their muscles to relax, people can regain control over their emotions.

Engaging in physical activity

Engaging in physical activity, such as walking, hitting a punching bag, or practicing yoga, can help people release built-up energy and tension. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, which can elevate mood and reduce stress.

Seeking support from friends or loved ones

Talking to a trusted friend or loved one about anger can provide validation and perspective. Having someone to listen and offer support can also prevent feelings of isolation and help people work through their emotions in a healthy way.

Engaging in creative activities

Engaging in creative activities such as drawing, painting, or writing can serve as a healthy outlet for feelings of anger. Creative expression allows people to channel their emotions into something productive and can provide a sense of catharsis.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation techniques can help people become more aware of their thoughts and emotions without acting on them impulsively. By practicing mindfulness, people can learn to observe their anger without becoming consumed by it, fostering a greater sense of control and self-awareness.

Other types of treatment for anger management

Mindfulness-based therapy

This therapy helps people become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness teaches a person to observe their anger without reacting impulsively.

Anger management group therapy

In a group setting, people can share experiences, learn new coping skills, and receive support from others who are also working on managing their anger. Group therapy provides a sense of community and understanding.

Art therapy

Engaging in artistic activities can be a form of self-expression and a way to release pent-up emotions. Creating art can help a person explore and process their anger in a nonverbal way.

IOP for anger management

Intensive outpatient programming (IOP) is often used to treat anger management when a person requires more intensive support than traditional outpatient therapy but does not require the level of care provided by inpatient treatment. IOP for anger management typically involves a combination of group and individual therapy, as well as various coping skills and techniques to help people better understand and manage their anger. This can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behavior that contribute to their anger, as well as communication skills training and stress management strategies. By providing more hours of treatment and support each week, IOP allows people to receive the help they need while still being able to live at home and continue with their daily responsibilities.

Treatment for anger management at Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with anger management, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including anger management. Our expert clinicians incorporate CBT into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing anger is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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