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  • Writer's pictureEmily Smith

How Anger Heals Trauma

Adverse childhood experience, abuse, neglect, violence, emotional unavailability - trauma. Trauma's impact is deep, wide, vast and complex. The emotions involved in trauma healing are many, and have layers. Anger is one of them. Anger is also an emotion that is often feared. It's often resented. We don't want to be seen as an angry person. Or maybe it's that we believe that being angry strips us of our power. In trauma-focused therapy, anger can be an essential part of the healing journey.


Trauma has a way of silencing its victims, and forces them to bury their emotions deep down inside. We think of anger being negative or unwanted. The opposite, perhaps, of what we think healing should be about. Instead, anger guides us toward the heart of our pain. When anger rears it's head, it's a sign to let us know that this is where those emotional layers lie. Trauma therapists know that anger isn't the obstacle, but rather it's a messenger.


In the aftermath of trauma, anger emerges as a survival mechanism. It becomes the armor that guards against vulnerability, an instinctive response to the violation of our boundaries. Understanding anger as a protective force allows survivors to appreciate its role in preserving their sense of self in the face of overwhelming adversity.


For many survivors, the journey towards healing involves learning to express anger in healthy and constructive ways. Suppressing anger can lead to its manifestation in harmful behaviors, both towards oneself and others. Acknowledging the validity of anger and finding avenues for its expression become crucial components of the healing process. This release can be incredibly freeing for survivors, breaking some of the chains that trauma survivors have been bound by.


Trauma therapists value anger's role, and also know how important it is to incorporate in therapy. Some ways that trauma therapists help client's to process feelings of anger is through expressive art therapy techniques, body-based methods like EMDR or Brainspotting, guided imagery, parts work and Internal Family Systems techniques, etc. The goal isn't simply to not feel angry anymore - it's about exploring the emotional layers to make new meaning and create internal peace. Acknowledging, expressing, and channeling anger are integral components of the healing journey, transforming what was once perceived as destructive into a force for empowerment and growth.



A person expressing anger



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