The What Anger Says Series: Why Anger Does Not Need to be Managed

idiot lightI get calls all the time from people wanting help with anger management. I offer to meet with them. I help them the best I can.

Let me tell you a secret: I don’t believe it’s anger that needs to be managed.

People call it anger management because that’s the name for it, but what they really mean to do is prevent violence. They’ve done something that scares them. They’ve lost control and hurt someone, or broke stuff, or said hurtful things and they’re in trouble. They’re afraid it’s going to happen again, as they should be. They should be afraid; very, very afraid.

However, they should be afraid of their violence, not their anger. Anger’s like the idiot light on your car that tells you that something needs your attention. If you saw that light glowing on your dashboard saying TEMP or OIL, you would get it check out, right? You wouldn’t go on driving as if you never saw it, you would take care of things.

When you feel some anger, that’s your clue that something’s not right. It’s time to slow down or stop what you’re doing and see what’s the matter. What is the matter? Oh, I don’t know, it could be lots of things. Maybe there’s injustice afoot. Maybe you’re expecting too much. Maybe you’re tired and cranky. Maybe it’s not that little straw that’s breaking the camel’s back, maybe it all the rest of the load that’s weighing you down. You’ll have to figure it out. The point is, it’s not the light that’s the problem. The light, the anger, is just telling you there’s a problem. Don’t put tape over the idiot light, you idiot.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to call you an idiot. I should know better than to talk that way to someone who needs to read about anger management.

Before we get too far, did you notice that feeling you got when you thought I called you an idiot, that feeling you call anger? You cannot stop that feeling from appearing any more than you can stop people from knocking on your door.

If someone knocks at your door, do you always let them in? Do you offer coffee to every Jehovah Witness, every Girl Scout selling cookies, every campaigning politician? Do you let them move in, raid your refrigerator, sleep in your bed, and take over your house? Of course you don’t; and, just because anger comes knocking and all those dark, murderous thoughts come to mind, it doesn’t mean you have to entertain them.

Let me put it another way. You can’t stop your feelings any more than you can stop your toenails from growing: but you can clip them, and I hope you do.

Anger management does not stop anger from arriving. That’s not the objective. The idea is to shorten it’s duration and minimize its impact. The idea is to prevent violence.

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The Shrink’s Links: The Art of Manliness

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

The Art of Manliness

If I had a teenage son, I would have him read the Art of Manliness. That website contains far more than I could ever teach him. It has everything from how to be a mountain guide to how to be a good neighbor, everything from whistling to workouts, having integrity to preventing swamp crotch. Come to think of it, adult men need to know that, too.

Click here to go to the link

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The Shrink’s Links: The Plutchik Emotion Circumplex

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

The Plutchik Emotion Circumplex

“How does that make you feel?”

I’m a shrink. I say that a lot. Much of the time when I ask that, the person looks like a deer in the headlights. It’s not that they’re not feeling, it’s just they don’t know what to call it.

The Plutchik Emotion Circumplex can help.

Robert Plutchik’s theory of emotion is, my opinion, the most reasonable classification of emotions there is. He considered there to be eight primary emotions: angerfearsadnessdisgustsurpriseanticipation,trust, and joy. These ‘basic’ emotions are biologically primitive and each is the trigger of behavior with high survival value.

His circumplex model uses the idea of a color wheel. Like colors, primary emotions can be expressed at different intensities and can mix with one another to form different emotions.

Plutchik

Clink here to go to the link

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Favorite Quotes: Life is a Journey

journey-300x201
Birth is a beginning
and death a destination;
But life is a journey.

A going, a growing
from stage to stage:
From childhood to maturity
and youth to old age.
From innocence to awareness
and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
and then perhaps, to wisdom.
From weakness to strength 
or strength to weakness
and often back again.
From health to sickness
and back we pray, to health again.
From offense to forgiveness,
from loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude,
from pain to compassion.
From grief to understanding,
from fear to faith;
From defeat to defeat to defeat,
until, looking backward or ahead:
We see that victory lies not
at some high place along the way, 
But in having made the journey, 
stage by stage,a sacred pilgrimage.

Birth is a beginning
and death a destination;
But life is a journey,
a sacred pilgrimage, 
Made stage by stage...

- Alvin Fine

I can’t say it better than Rabbi Alvin Fine (1916-1999). Happy New Year, Rabbi.

 

 

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The Shrink’s Links: The Healthy Nutritionist

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

The Healthy Nutritionist

This is the website of my friend, Lora Downie, a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach, here in the Rochester area. She can teach you how to eat right, she can come to your house and help you cook, and if you can’t do that, she can be your personal chief. I’ve eaten her food. It is gooood, and you don’t have to feel guilty eating it.

Clink here to go to the Healthy Nutritionalist website.

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The Shrink’s Links: Experimental Theology

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

Experimental Theology: A Meditation on Mental Illness and Metaphor

I have been a big fan of Richard Beck’s blog for a long time and there may be hundreds of posts he’s made that I could recommend. But, if you are on my website, you must be interested in issues pertaining to mental health. Therefore I will point you to a bit he wrote about the iconoclastic views of Thomas Szasz, a critic of the disease model of mental illness.

If you like this article and subscribe to Experimental Theology, be prepared to receive several posts a week in your inbox. Some will be about psychology, because Beck is a psychologist; some will be about theology, because he also has a fresh, thoughtful take on what we say about God; some will report on his prison ministry, because he never seems to stop. Whatever you read, you can be sure that you will never look at things the same way again.

Clink here to go to the Experimental Theology website.

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“Do you take my insurance?”

This is the most frequently asked question when people make their first phone call to set up an appointment to see me for counseling. It seems like a simple question, but it’s not.

When you ask if I “take” your insurance, I suspect you’re asking whether I am a member of your insurance company’s network of providers. Membership has its advantages to you. If I am, as they say, “in network”, then, except for your copay and deductible, I can bill them directly and you don’t have to deal with the rigmarole of submitting claims.

I’ve applied to be “in network” for every insurance network I ever heard of. They all ask the same questions about my qualifications. Most of them have told me that they have enough providers already, but they’ll keep my application on file.

The real issue is not whether I “take” your insurance; the issue is whether your insurance “takes” me.

Despite having been turned away by so many because they think there are enough counselors, I am currently in the networks of Excellus, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Value Options, Beacon, MVP, Emblem Health, and GHI. I usually can “take” those insurances.

Usually?

It gets complicated.

Gone are the days when you could say the name of your insurance company, and a counselor could tell you if he or she “takes” that insurance.

Many insurance companies these days contract with other companies to administer the mental health portion of their policies. Some of them contract with more than one other company. In order to answer your question, I need to know which company your insurance company contracted with for your particular plan.

It might say on your card; might.

Value Options is one of those companies that contract with other companies to administer the mental health portion of their policies. If you have Blue Cross/Blue Shield, MVP, or a host of others, your plan might actually be covered by Value Options. If that’s the case, then, hurray, I’m “in network” for you. However, some Blue Cross/Blue Shield and MVP plans are associated with other companies.

Oy, gevalt.

If you call me, the only thing I can do is look it up to tell you. I’ll need your name, ID number, and date of birth.

If I’m “out of network”, the insurance company may be willing to reimburse you for some portion of our sessions, but you would pay a larger portion of my bill than you would if you saw someone “in network”. You would have to submit a claim to them after paying me. Their willingness to pay anything depends on the individual plan that your employer selected. You can call them up and ask if you reach a real person.

A good portion of the people who call me decide that they will see me anyway on a self-pay basis. I charge $95 a session. Maybe they just want to get on with counseling. Maybe they’re just grateful that I, a human being, answered the phone. Maybe driving their customers to self-pay is what the insurance company is hoping for when they make it so difficult to access care.

Here’s another thing that determines whether I “take” your insurance. You have to have an approved, diagnosable mental health condition for insurance to pay and I have to tell them what it is.

Many people call a counselor for problems that have nothing to do with a bona fide mental health condition. They have marital problems, or are thinking about a career change, or they have anger management problems that may or may not be associated with anything diagnosable. If that is the case, then I can definitely help you, but you’re out of luck when it comes to your insurance paying for it, whether I am “in network” or not.

There are definite advantages to NOT using insurance to pay for counseling. I’ve had some people elect to pay for it themselves, even though I do “take” their insurance. They’d rather no one know they’re seeing a counselor; they don’t want the insurance company dictating their care; or they don’t want their trouble cast in terms of a mental health problem. These can be excellent reasons to self-pay.

In summary, the devil is in the details. Sometimes, little words, innocently used, obscure a whole platoon of devils. Just that little word, “take”, hides the mess insurance companies make. Call me and we can figure it out, together.

I’m Teaching a Class: Relationships

  • Aug_28-relationshipsWednesday, August 28th | 7:00-9:00pm | Why Relationships Go Bad and What You Can Do About It

When conflicts arise, many couples wonder if they really belong together. Don’t be discouraged, it’s never too late to create the loving relationship you want. What’s usually missing is information and skills not acquired in everyday life. Once you have them and put them to use, wonderful things can happen.

The class will be a mixture of instruction and discussion. It is not necessary to have or bring a partner. You will not be obligated to share.

At the Rochester Brainery

274 N. Goodman St (inside Village Gate)

Suite B134
Rochester, NY 14607

Click here to register

Phone: 585.730.7034

E-mail: info@rochesterbrainery.com

The Shrink’s Links: Joy Whack-a-Mole

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

Joy Whack-a-Mole

 

Deal with good news swiftly and efficiently by playing Joy Whack-a-Mole with your friends and family. In this clip, Maria Bamford, shows you how it’s done. There is even a solitaire version for when you are alone!

Joy Whack-a-Mole

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The Shrink’s Links: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

It is possible to predict the long-term success or failure of a relationship with 94% accuracy by watching the first three minutes of a couple having a discussion about a conflict. Just watch and listen for the four horsemen of the apocalypse: marriage researcher, John Gottman’s name for four potentially destructive communication styles. Look out for criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Today’s link is to Gottman’s blog where he begins a series about the four horsemen. Click here to read it. Navigate to newer posts to read more.

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