"Do Women Need Anger Management Classes Too?" - Mr. Marriage Counselor

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    We talk a lot about anger and men, and for good reason. Men are more likely to struggle with anger issues than women, and I discuss the reasons in other articles on anger. However, that doesn’t mean women are completely immune. Women can need anger management classes too.

    When it comes to anger and anger management women and men differ, but at the same time share much in common.

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    Because anger management for women gets so little attention, it’s no wonder there are questions about how to get a woman with anger problems the help she needs. Below is just such an inquiry from a man named Gabe regarding his girlfriend and my advice as to what next steps he should take to help her.

    When The Woman You Love Needs Anger Management Classes

    Reader Question:

    All of the literature on anger management is about men. What about women? Do women need anger management classes too? I think my girlfriend needs to go to anger management classes with me." -Gabe M.

    Gabe isn’t the only man who’s noticed a need for anger management in the woman he loves. At Guy Stuff we’ve worked with many women whose anger has gotten out of hand and who need help learning how to manage it.

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    My Answer:

    That's a great question. Yes, women need anger management too. But you're also right that there isn't much out there about anger management classes for women.

    A woman I was working with a few months ago pointed this out also. She said she found no resources on anger management classes for women and ended up coming to Guy Stuff for anger management classes because of her partner's explosive temper. In addition to helping her cope with his anger, we worked on her anger management as well.

    When I'm doing couples counseling and anger issues arise, not unusual by the way, I will do my anger assessment with both partners. We often find the woman struggles with anger too, even though most of the time it's the man who's seen as having the anger management problem.

    You may very well be right that your girlfriend needs anger management classes. My recommendation would be that if she doesn't recognize this about herself yet and is focused on you having the anger management problem, then just get the help for yourself. In the process of your changing there will be opportunities for her to see how she could make similar changes.

    How Managing Anger Differs For Women

    As mentioned above, the causes of anger in women can be different, and the expression of anger can be as well. 

    Most women tend to be more emotionally in-tune than most men, and better able to understand, regulate, and discuss their feelings. Men typically haven’t learned how to do this.

    Because men are often less able to express complex feelings in a healthy manner, those stuffed emotions can manifest as anger and may be expressed through yelling, physical acts, or excessively controlling behaviors. All things that are noticeable and look like a problem.

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    Women on the other hand, are often better able to express their feelings before anger bubbles over and avoid exploding and becoming as volatile with their anger. Most of the time, but not always. They may, however, more likely be triggered by feelings of inequality, being disregarded, taken for granted, socially snubbed, or other more subtle occurrences.

    Their expression of anger can be subtle as well.

    Thus women often employ more passive-aggressive tactics, like the silent treatment, gossiping, emotional abuse or manipulation as methods of expressing their anger. Not as obviously damaging as punching a wall, but perhaps more detrimental in the long run.

    This is part of the reason anger in men gets more attention than does anger in women. It’s just usually more obvious and lacking control.

    Does this mean that women don’t yell, explode with anger, or become abusive? No. It’s just less the norm than in men.

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    So, when a woman needs anger management classes, she’ll need to find a counselor who understands the similarities and differences in anger between women and men. It’s not a one size fits all. And unfortunately, as a result, anger management classes for women can be harder to find.

    Got a question you'd like to Ask a Marriage Counselor? Click here to submit it and I'll answer it in an up coming post. Be sure to Sign Up for Our Blog at the bottom of the page so you'll get my answer as soon as it's published.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published September 01, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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