Distinguishing Healthy Anger from Unhealthy Anger for CBT-Based Anger Management

By Gillian Bloxham

Part of Managing Anger with CBT For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

When setting out to manage your anger with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), you need to understand that anger is normal. Anger is a natural human feeling – it’s how you use it and express it that counts. Healthy anger is an energy, motivating you to speak up, stand up for yourself or get people together to make changes for the better.

Unhealthy anger, on the other hand:

  • Lasts a long time: For around 30 per cent of people, unhealthy anger lasts more than a day.

  • Happens a lot: Unhealthy anger occurs more than five or six times a week.

  • Escalates out of proportion to the trigger: You may smash your phone after losing reception while you’re chatting, for example.

  • Gets out of hand, bringing trouble: Being expelled, arrested or convicted are all examples which have bad effects on your health, relationships and at work.

  • Involves using poor coping strategies: You may be coping by means of using swearing, insults or shouting, and calming down using drink or drugs.