Q: I have been having counseling for about six months and have come to the point where she feels I no longer need it. I have talked about major issues in my life until I can talk no more, but I still seem to be so angry and depressed, yet when I am with the counselor I seem to be OK. I don’t know where to go from here. I have low self esteem and I am still carrying a lot of anger inside me, which mostly gets directed at my children. I am a single working parent.

A: Depression is a way we try to cover up our anger.

So when we start to feel angry, that’s actually a good thing – because it means we are facing what we really feel rather than picking on ourselves instead!

The problem isn’t the fact that you feel angry, it’s how you decide to use the anger once you feel it. Talk with your therapist about how to USE your anger when you begin to feel it. And tell her, in detail, how you have been using your anger with your children and in all other ways.

One thing to consider: Sometimes therapists are under orders from an insurance company or someone else to stop therapy too early. In these situations they sometimes try to convince themselves that people are finished before they actually are. If you think your therapist is doing this, tell her so.

Bottom line: Don’t confuse the feeling of anger with what you DO with the anger. Whether you are in therapy or not, you are responsible for how you choose to use your anger. (Some people kill when they are angry. Some people yell it out in a car with the windows rolled up. Some people pick on their spouses or coworkers. The feeling doesn’t “make” us do any specific thing. We choose how we use our anger.)

It is possible that your parents used their anger on you, and therefore you feel justified in using your own anger on children too. If so, you need to be sure not to follow their bad example and learn other more effective ways to use your anger. (I also wonder if you might have had cruel parents due to the fact that you feel better in the therapist’s office but it doesn’t last. Maybe you get doses of the “good parenting” you needed as a child while you are with the therapist, and then you miss it when you leave her….)

You are wise to know that you still need therapy. Insist on it with your therapist.

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