Counselling for Men - How Is It Different?
We know that men and women are both similar and different.
While we are passionate about supporting all genders, we really do enjoy working with men! Over the years we have observed some unique challenges that men face.
Here are some of the challenges we have observed in working with men:
Stereotypes about sharing emotion - Many men have learned through socialisation that expressing deep emotion (not just anger!) is weak and a "feminine trait". We know that this is untrue as biologically we are all wired to feel a variety of intense emotion - no matter what gender you are. Our societies send us different false messages around what kinds of emotions are acceptable and unacceptable for men and women to express. For example, many of us have been told that it's OK for men to be angry or pissed off, but it is not OK for men to share how hurt, ashamed or disappointed they feel. Alternatively, women have been told that it is not OK to show anger and that they should be gentle, nurturing and understanding. We know women feel a wide variety of emotions and deserve to have space to express them!
Stereotypes about men accessing counselling -Often men receive strong negative messaging around reaching out for help to talk to someone about their problems. Maybe you have heard something like, "real men don't seek out help, they fix their own problems!" or "just suck it up buttercup!" or "Stop being such a sissy/baby"?! While we are hopeful and have seen evidence that we are moving away from this more archaic way of accessing mental health support, some of these rigid beliefs are still in tact. Many of the men we have supported over the years, have been highly reflective and intelligent. The more they have allowed themselves to practice vulnerability in sessions, the more they have gained and grown through counselling.
The unique pressures faced by being male. This may show up as the felt pressure to provide for a family, to be a leader, to be physically and emotionally strong or to be able to fix any problem. As female therapists we may not be able to directly relate, but we can definitely offer compassion, curiosity and understanding.
Lastly as female therapists supporting a male client, we can offer a unique perspective aligned with feminist values around equality, respect and dignity. We can help to gently challenge any rigid or sexist belief systems so that you can show up in the most healthy way possible in your relationships. Please inquire if you have any wondering about all of this, we are always happy to chat!