Is therapy for men? Are men for therapy?
It’s an interesting question for men and the women around them; is therapy useful for men?
Counselling is a long established method for working with the emotional stresses of life and getting in contact with those feelings everyone else says we need to know. Women are emotionally more receptive and responsive to their feelings; men are not – we know this because we have been taught it for centuries (like some form of folklore).
In this age, more than any other, we have grown into or received possession of many more roles than our ancestors. Generations before us have been bread-winners, protectors, masters of our own households and towering rocks of strength. We knew exactly where we stood, as did society. With it came the “armour” which enabled us to “perform” our role. It included – a stiff upper lip, “carry on regardless”, “pull yourself together” and “real men don’t cry”. So a centuries old template for manliness has been torn up and thrown out the window in the last 50 or so years; quite rightly so, time changes things. So where does that leave us now as men?
We are still all of the above in some way, shape or form (protector, rock and income provider) but we have also inherited other roles; house husband, child-carer and problem solver; to mention a few. With these responsibilities comes a closer tie to the things that have been considered by men, as well as women, to be the more feminine traits in life – feelings and emotions; strange things that men don’t understand or get. Ask a man how he feels and he’ll tell you “okay”, “fine” or “I don’t know what you mean?” How is that possible? It goes back to our template of manliness and what is expected of us. So is counselling useful for men?
The hardest step is the first one; acknowledging a need or desire for support and making that call. Often women in our lives notice changes in our behaviour, attitude or work. These changes are more obvious to others than we realised; our ability to cope and hide our emotional baggage is not as good as we thought.
Therapy allows men the space to share; in a confidential, understanding and supportive setting. They can explore the issues and turmoil of a man’s life without being judged as right or wrong. Feelings and emotions rely on a wide range of language and exploring the use of words around emotions and feelings is a good starting place. It will provide a new basis for combining the male ability to think logically through an emotional event (problem), the need for a solution and recognise the random or odd reactions (feelings/emotions).
Men do have emotional responses to events that cause hurt, fear, love or happiness; we just do it in a different way to women. Counselling for men is equally effective, freeing and fulfilling for men as for women. Give it a go, what have you got to lose?