James, 32, came to see me as he was getting into a lot of trouble because of his anger. He reported that he and his partner were having explosive fights which left both him and his partner feeling really upset. James had a lot of contact with his family although he said they didn’t have a great relationship. He noticed his anger was particularly bad around his family especially his mother. He spoke about feeling unsupported by his family, yet they were very critical of him and put him under a lot of pressure. James spoke about feeling as though his anger was controlling him and he was afraid he would get so angry he might hurt himself. James was self-employed and described the huge stress he was under trying to balance clients demands with his families.
How Counselling helped:
I worked with James to discover the root cause of his anger and he spent some time figuring out his triggers in relation to people and situations. James soon realised much of his anger especially in relation to his mother was due to stuff that happened between them many years before. James grew up in an environment where there was a lot of anger, his mother drank too much for many years when James was a child and regularly lashed out. Often it was James who had to be the parent caring for his mother and his younger sibling. Now although she doesn’t drink excessively anymore his mother is extremely critical of him, telling him he is useless and a failure. For James to deal with his anger he had to first acknowledge all the hurt from his childhood. He did this in the safe space of the counselling session where he was able to be honest about his feelings without fear of hurting anyone. We looked at ways James could respond if he felt his buttons were being pressed by family members or others. James learned how assertiveness could help him get his point across without him needing to get angry. We also looked at ways James could mind himself around his family so that he wasn’t so easily upset. In time James reported that he could see that his mother’s insults were down to her own unresolved issues and nothing to do with him. Once he could see this, he was not so easily triggered by her and she had lost her power over him. He also realised that by discovering a new way to deal with his family, he was now much less volatile with his partner and was more inclined to talk to her if he had an issue with her. Finally, James started carving out some time for himself to relax and enjoy life and as a result was feeling more rested and less stressed.