When anger does not have an outlet, it can have lasting and damaging effects on the person who experiences the emotion. In this case study, we will look at one young lady who is beginning to explore the role of anger in her life, and how it could be addressed in couples therapy through the use of assessment tools and Emotionally Focused Therapy.
Emily R., 28 years old, entered therapy in November, 2013 with presenting issues of anxiety. At the time of our first session she had been married four years, and had a two year old daughter. Her anxiety was focused on her pregnancy with her second child, which was at the beginning of its second trimester. Specifically, she was having significant anxiety about the possibility of miscarriage. She had one miscarriage before her first pregnancy, and two between her first and her second pregnancy.
As we explored the presenting issue, Emily described a history of anxiety. She experienced severe separation anxiety throughout her childhood, especially from her mother, and suffered generalized anxiety throughout her school years. Emily's anxiety had been treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and enrollment in a private high school that had a component of therapy as part of their curriculum. As she entered college, she found her anxiety more manageable, but it has returned full force with this second pregnancy. She is currently employed as a contract manager at the company which is partially owned by her husband. She notes that her work is the one place where she feels completely confident and does not experience anxiety.
In her description of her family of origin, Emily noted several elements that may have contrib...
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...und that her anxiety was masking anger, this assessment was useful in discovering the role of anger in her life. The assessment showed significant scores in almost every category of anger style. Speaking broadly, Emily scored 3/9 for the category of hidden anger, which includes anger avoidance (⅓), “sneaky” anger (⅔), and 0/3 for paranoia. She scored 4/12 in the category of explosive anger, with subcategory scores of ⅓ in sudden anger, 3/3 in shame based anger, and 0/3 in both deliberate and excitatory anger. The area of greatest concern is the category of chronic anger, in which Emily scored 9/12, with 3/3 in both habitual anger and resentment/hate, ⅔ in moral anger, and ⅓ in paranoia.
Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale. (2014, March). Retrieved from
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