Anger Iceberg

The Anger Iceberg represents the idea that, although anger is displayed outwardly, other emotions may be hidden beneath the surface. These other feelings—such as sadness, fear, or guilt—might cause a person to feel vulnerable, or they may not have the skills to manage them effectively.

By exploring what’s beneath the surface, clients can gain insight into their anger, such as other possible treatment avenues. For example, a client who realizes their anger is fueled by jealousy may benefit from communication skills, whereas a client who realizes their anger is caused by stress will benefit from developing self-care habits.

The Anger Iceberg worksheet can be used in multiple ways. It works well as a group discussion piece, or as an activity where clients identify and circle their own hidden emotions. Try the following discussion questions to get started:

  • Imagine a friend is facing a situation that’s similar to one of your own anger triggers. What emotions do you think they might feel, other than anger?
  • In your family, or in the culture you grew up in, what emotions do people freely express? What emotions do they keep to themselves?
  • Imagine a person who handles difficult emotions—such as sadness, fear, or hurt— effectively. How do they show these emotions? What do they do to cope with them?
  • Anger is sometimes used mask emotions that make a person feel vulnerable, such as hurt or shame. Can you think of a time you expressed anger in order to conceal another emotion you were feeling?

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As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I have been working with individuals, couples and families for over twenty years. My goal is to help you enhance your life, improve your overall functioning and have a better understanding on how to care for yourself.

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