A Comparison of the Emotion-Focused and Cognitive Behavioral Theories of Anger and Its Treatment.

Topics: Cognitive behavioral therapy, Emotion, Psychotherapy Pages: 10 (3229 words) Published: April 17, 2008

Anger is often a difficult emotion to express and understand and it has come to be recognized as a significant social problem that our society facing today. This paper discusses the efficacy of the Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and the Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) for treating patient with anger problems and compared therapists’ view on emotion which how they see emotion as the prime mover in human experience in different ways respectively. Besides, the development, overview and the similarities of CBT & EFT has been critically compared and discussed in this essay. CBT and EFT conceptualize emotional problems differently and employ different techniques in each therapy. Although the CBT and EFT possess many distinct characteristics, it has been shown in this paper that many of their characteristic overlapped and the different aspects of the various approaches are compatible. Despite the lack of abundant research supporting the EFT where majority of published studies on anger have focused primarily on CBT, claims can be made to each type of therapy contributes something unique and may be more or less effective depending on the patients and their particular problem, yet there is no right or wrong answer as to which one is the right therapy for anger.


Anger is a basic human uncomfortable emotional that varies from mild irritation to rage as it is often a difficult emotion to express and understand that transcends cultural boundaries. Anger can be a healthy emotion when it is expressed appropriately (Greenberg & Paivio, 1997). Unfortunately many people have expressed their frustration of feelings and anger in an inappropriate way and end up hurting themselves or the people they love. That is why anger has always been seen as associated with many serious negative consequences, such as aggressive behavior, family violence, substance abuse, and physical health problems (Paivio, 1999). Despite a long history of interest in some other negative emotions such as depression and anxiety, the study of anger has been relatively neglected (Norcross & Kobayashi, 1999). Although in the last decade anger has been gradually identified and addressed by researchers, the scientific study of anger are only the one tenth of the professional journal articles of depression (DiGiuseppe, 1999). Fortunately, anger has come to be recognized as a significant social problem, more and more attention and research have been contributed to this issue. Anger treatments and interventions such as psychotherapy groups and classes are routinely found in community mental health centers, school settings and private mental health sectors (Norcross & Kobayashi, 1999). Treatment of anger in the 1960s focused mainly on helping patients to vent angry feelings, but these therapies have since lost their popularity because many therapists noticed that the expression of anger generally increased anger, which was counterproductive to the goals of therapy (Bushman, Baumeister & Phillips, 2001).

Currently, although there are many ranges of psychological treatment approaches available to manage anger, it remains no clear consensus among therapists and researchers on the best way to treat patients with anger emotion (Spielberger, Reheiser & Sydeman, 1995). However, unlike other treatment interventions, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has received extensive research and it has an accumulation of research on the efficacy of treating anger problems since the last two decades (Silverman & DiGiuseppe, 2001). And in the other hand, Greenberg and Paivio (1997) have proposed that Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) is also an effective route of therapy for anger, as problems with anger frequently involve its overcontrol and its overactivation with associated problem of under regulation, therefore emotion-focused therapy can be a very good intervention for anger. Despite CBT has currently emerged as the most common approach to anger management, EFT has...
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