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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Advice on help for anger management and relationship issues?

    I find my partner's intermittent anger and aggression (very occasionally has been physical), and dismissiveness very difficult. Long-term depression and hyped-up episodes. Most anti-depressants haven't worked or made things worse. Now diagnosed (most recent psychiatrist) with bipolar II and finds current mood-stabiliser good - I'd agree. All has left us with many issues.

    Sessions with counsellors or psychologists over the years mostly pretty useless I'm afraid, but current one seems safe and sensible and listens. However I'm concerned that trying to address communication issues is perhaps of limited value until his potential aggression etc is dealt with.

    He is defensive, embarrassed, denies or diminishes things, or puts things onto me. But can come across as very genial (which in fact is part of him, but there is the other side).

    Any suggestions or tips please? How best to approach anger management or where to get this from? Any realistic hope for our relationship?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    There is a difference between difficulties with depression or with managing anger, and problems caused by one person's choice to use violence in order to avoid sharing power and influence in a relationship. If your partner is choosing to respond to your requests for change by using violence, then working on better ways to communicate, or assisting him to ‘manage anger’ will be of no use. In fact, working on these issues in couples counselling can actually make things worse - as you learn to communicate more effectively he may feel even more threatened by you and respond with more aggression. If he is willing to do so, there are some excellent men's behaviour change programs in most states, some run through local community services, others run privately. These programs work by drawing attention to the fact using violence is a choice, by challenging beliefs that justify the use of violence against others, and encouraging healthier choices.
    If you are unsure whether your partner is in this category, or whether he is depressed and has difficulty managing anger, ask yourself - does he have trouble managing anger in a range of situations (e.g. at work, in social situation etc) or only with you? If it is only with you, then he is making a different choice where he perceives that others are as powerful or more powerful than he is. If he is struggling to manage angry outbursts in a range of situations, then focussed psychological counselling with someone who specializes in anger management may be the most helpful option.
    All the best.

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