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How Somatic Therapy Helps Untangle the Knots of Anger

For some people anger is a frequent unwelcome visitor, wreaking havoc on relationships and well-being. What if there was a way to understand this intense emotion, not just try to suppress it, but untangle its roots and transform its energy? Are you surprised to learn there is a way? Somatic therapy helps untangle the knots of anger.

Unlike other anger management therapy techniques, somatic therapy is an approach that goes beyond talk therapy to explore the mind-body connection and help release anger at its core.

The statistics tell us anger is a common struggle. A study by the American Psychological Association found that 45% of Americans report feeling angry or hostile “often” or “very often.” While expressing anger can be healthy in some cases, chronic or uncontrolled anger can lead to depression, anxiety, and even physical health problems.


Somatic therapy: A different kind of conversation

Unlike traditional therapy that focuses solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic therapy adds another layer – the body. Trained somatic therapists guide you in paying attention to bodily sensations associated with anger, like tightness in your chest or clenching in your jaw. This awareness allows you to observe and track the physical build-up of anger before it explodes, giving you a chance to interrupt the cycle and choose a more conscious response.

While some may envision anger therapy as rage rooms and primal screaming, somatic therapy offers more than just anger management therapy techniques. Somatic therapy has a diverse toolbox for addressing anger and more. From gentle movement exercises to mindful breathing techniques, each session is tailored to your unique needs and preferences. Some therapists might incorporate visualizations to release pent-up emotions, while others might use expressive arts like painting or drumming to tap into the creative side of anger.

And here’s the secret that most anger management blogs won’t share: anger often has deeper roots than just current stressors. Somatic therapy can help you uncover hidden triggers and past experiences that might be fueling your anger. While this exploration can be mildly uncomfortable, it’s also incredibly liberating. By understanding the true source of the anger, often rooted in trauma, you gain the power to reframe and release the emotional charge attached to these experiences.

Trauma as a Source of Anger

Trauma, whether big or small, can leave its mark on your body in the form of muscle tension and energetic blockages. Somatic therapy uses techniques like activating certain muscle groups to access and release the stored charge from these memories held within the body’s nervous system. By gently releasing the tension, you can finally let go of the anger that has been holding you hostage for years.

For example, your response to either helplessness or powerlessness is rooted in your childhood experiences. Specifically, the response comes from the patterns and survival skills you developed in response to situations within your primary relationships as well as other important connections. When you were dependent on your caregivers, you may have felt physically helpless as well as emotionally helpless, especially if those caregivers were not sufficiently attuned to your needs. While physical helplessness can come from lack of capability, it can also come from feeling overpowered by someone, which can feel like a terrifying threat. Emotional helplessness is the experience resulting from feeling you must be a certain way or do certain things to survive due to a potential threat of rejection, abandonment, betrayal, etc.

Traumas like these get stuck in your body – a kind of emotional blockage. The shock and pain are stuck because your system was overwhelmed in its ability to cope. The overwhelm leaves us without the skills to contain it alone, to process it alone, and to renegotiate it alone. You’re stuck with the terror of feeling helpless. In response, your system may have turned to shutting down or numbing out to survive, or it learned to use chronic helplessness as a way to guarantee you won’t be abandoned.

Related Reading: Why Understanding What Trauma Does to the Brain Helps You Heal


In adulthood, you will likely encounter overwhelm again: by your to-do list, by your responsibilities such as a new job, a new relationship or the end of a relationship, a new family, a death, a sickness, etc. In response, you might unconsciously go back to the childhood wound of helplessness. And that can resurrect an old survival skill: a victim place or a temper tantrum like you might have had as a little kid. Can you be with your sense of helplessness? If tears come, can you be with them? If anger comes, can you be with it without getting destructive? If you need some support, can you ask for it directly from an adult place? If the answer is no, a somatic therapist for anger issues and trauma can help.

Anger Management Help

Somatic therapy isn’t just about anger management. Fundamentally, it’s about cultivating a deeper connection to your body, gaining emotional resilience, and developing healthier ways to express yourself. As you learn to listen to and respect your body’s signals, you build a foundation for greater well-being in all aspects of your life.

Many people struggle with anger, but it doesn’t have to define you. If you’re ready to break free from the grip of anger and embrace a more peaceful present and future, consider exploring the transformative power of somatic therapy. You might just surprise yourself with what your body has to say.

If you are looking for a therapist for anger issues, many at Life Care Wellness are certified in Somatic Experiencing. If you’re in northern Illinois, please reach out to us at our Glen Ellyn, Chicago (Jefferson Park), Yorkville, or Sycamore offices.

Rhonda Kelloway is the owner and principal therapist at Life Care Wellness, a group psychotherapy practice in Glen Ellyn, Sycamore, Yorkville, and Chicago (Jefferson Park neighborhood), Illinois. She is a trauma specialist using a Somatic Experiencing framework to utilize the body’s wisdom in healing. She also uses EMDR and a variety of traditional psychotherapy approaches in her work. In addition to being a psychotherapist, she is a trained divorce and family mediator.