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How to cope with anger

Explains anger, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support. Also includes advice for friends and family.

What help is available?

There are various treatments available that can help you with your anger problems. This page covers:

If your difficulties with anger are related to a mental health problem and/or traumatic experiences then you might find that treatment and support for this also addresses your anger. (See our A-Z of mental health for information on treatments and support for different diagnoses and experiences).

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Under 18? Read our tips on anger for young people

Talking therapy and counselling

Talking therapy and counselling involves talking about your problems with a trained professional (such as a counsellor or psychotherapist) who can help you explore the causes of your anger and ways to manage it. This can help you work through your feelings and improve your responses to situations that make you angry.

There are different types of talking therapies, and some are specifically tailored to anger issues.

  • Counselling is usually a short-term treatment where you might talk through a specific issue – such as outbursts of anger with your partner or in the workplace – and try to understand how you could manage those situations differently. Some workplaces, higher education institutions, local charities and GP surgeries offer free or low-cost counselling services to their employees, students or local residents.
  • Psychotherapy often lasts longer than counselling and tends to go deeper into past experiences. Your focus here may be on learning more about yourself to help you understand why you express your anger the way you do, or why certain situations make you angry.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is highly structured short-term talking therapy that examines how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affect each other, and aims to teach you practical skills to change this. CBT is the most commonly offered talking treatment on the NHS. You could also try to learn CBT techniques by yourself through accessing self-help books from your local library, or online through free apps.

For more information about different kinds of talking treatments and how they can help, see our pages on talking therapies.

"Talking, talking, talking over many years has helped immensely. Now I don't bottle it all up inside."

How do I access these treatments?

To access most treatments, the first step is usually to talk to your GP.

In some areas, you can also self-refer for counselling through the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

(See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for tips on how to talk to your doctor about your mental health.)

Anger can be a barrier to getting help

Accessing professional help isn't always straightforward; it can be challenging and sometimes you might experience setbacks or delays. It's understandable that you might sometimes feel frustrated and angry about your situation – especially if you don't feel you're getting the help you want.

But if you express your anger aggressively towards your healthcare professionals, this can cause more problems and delays in getting the help you want. Healthcare professionals have a right to feel safe at work; so if your behaviour becomes aggressive or threatening, they may not feel able to help you.

(See our pages on managing outbursts and long-term coping for some techniques you can use to manage angry feelings. If you feel you've been unfairly refused treatment, see our pages on complaining about health and social care for more information on what you can do.)

"I get angry when I don't get the help I need. That worsens my mental health so I feel more anxious and frustrated."

Anger management programmes

These are a specific kind of talking treatment for people who struggle with anger issues. They often involve working in a group, but may involve one-to-one sessions. They may use a mixture of counselling and CBT techniques. You can try:

  • NHS anger management courses. Many NHS Trusts run free local anger management services – you can ask your GP what's available near you.
  • Local Mind anger management courses. Some local Minds also provide free counselling or anger management services. Contact your Local Mind directly and ask them what services they provide.
  • Online self-help. Some organisations have produced online self-help guides for managing anger (see our page on useful contacts for more information).
  • A private course or therapist specialising in anger. You can use the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy's (BACP) website to search for accredited therapists near you. See our pages on talking therapies for more information about private therapy.

Help for abusive and violent behaviour

If your anger means you're acting in an abusive or violent way it's important to get help. You might feel worried that asking for help will get you in trouble, but it is often the most important first step towards changing your behaviour. You can contact:

  • Your GP. They can talk through your options with you, and refer you on to any local services. In many areas, the NHS, social services or your local council will run programmes to help perpetrators of domestic abuse change their behaviour.
  • Respect runs a phoneline offering advice, information and support on 0808 802 4040. You can also email them on [email protected] or use their live chat on their website. Live chat is available Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am–4pm. They run programmes across the country to help you understand and change your behaviour.
  • The Freedom Programme runs online and in-person courses for anyone who wants to change their abusive behaviour.
  • The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) runs courses to help people learn new ways to tackle situations where violence could arise.

Local support

  • ADAPT is a course run across Hampshire and the Channel Islands to support men over 18 to change abusive or violent behaviour.
  • The Everyman Project has information, self-help strategies and programmes based in London to help perpetrators of domestic abuse. 
  • The Domestic Violence Intervention Project offers support to stop domestic abuse across London and the south east.
  • Atal y Fro runs a free programme for male perpetrators of domestic abuse in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is also available to people outside this area for a fee.
  • The Phoenix Respect Programme For Men is run by Gwent Domestic Abuse Services for men who have been or are at risk of being abusive to their partners.
  • Bridging to Change is a Manchester-based service for perpetrators of domestic abuse.
  • The South Tyneside Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Programme helps men living in South Tyneside to change abusive behaviour.
  • The BRAVE project is a not-for-profit organisation based in Bradford which offers a confidential service comprising group work, one-to-one counselling and telephone support for men to help change abusive behaviour.
  • The Pennine Domestic Violence Group provides information and runs a programme of support for perpetrators of domestic abuse in the Pennine area.

Please note:

  • Mind does not endorse any particular support service, including those listed on this page. We have no knowledge of their services or performance.
  • This is not an exhaustive list. You may be able to find other services near you.
  • It is your responsibility to decide whether the service you are considering using is appropriate for you.

This information was published in July 2018.

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References and bibliography available on request.

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