Dealing with each instance of anger represents a choice. The basic alternatives are:
- Respond with hostile action, including overt violence,
- Respond with hostile inaction, such as withdrawing or stonewalling,
- Initiate a dominance contest,
- Harbor resentment,
- Work to better understand and constructively resolve the issue.
Other strategies address on-going tendencies toward anger.
In the 1960s and 1970s, theories about dealing with anger in a therapeutic process were based upon expressing the feelings through action. This ranged from pillow hitting strategies to radical and extreme therapies such as scream therapy. Scream therapy is a therapy where patients stand in a room and simply scream for hours on end. However, these techniques actually do nothing to prevent anger from taking hold. Research into scream therapy actually showed that patients suffer from increased anger problems. This is understandable since modern research into neuroplasticity shows that the more we exercise a brain area - the areas involved with anger in this example - the more efficient that area becomes.
Modern therapies for anger involve restructuring thoughts and beliefs in order to bring about a causal reduction in anger. This therapy often comes within the schools of CBT (or cognitive behavioural therapy) or other modern schools such as REBT (or rational emotional behavioural therapy). Research shows that people who suffer from excessive anger often harbor rational thoughts and beliefs - biased towards negativity. It has been shown that with therapy by a trained professional, individuals can bring their anger to manageable levels. In order for a cathartic effect to occur, the source of the anger must be damaged or destroyed by the aggrieved party.
Spiritual therapies for anger involve observing the feelings of anger as they arise. The basic understanding being that anger is a form of attachment: to ego-of-self, to how things 'should' be which is separate from how things really are. To objectively realize that a relationship with anger exists, in many cases is enough for the anger to subside and eventually be eradicated from the mind. Observation usually begins with a foundation in meditation, although it is not a requirement. Most spiritual teachers are quick to add that observation does not include the suppression of feelings; as this can cause attachment to the idea not being angry.