Therapy for Men
John Wayne Goes to Therapy
This statement doesn’t really make sense, does it? I mean this character was a confident, iron-willed man. And that worked for him… in the Wild West.
Much of our belief of what masculinity is does not allow therapy to be part of being a man.
Men Don’t Cry
…But you also can’t be a protector or provider if you are strong in yourself or dominant in nature since it is threatening. Yet… we tell men to feel things, express them but not to cry too much… talk about confusing.
There are mixed messages in society today, and it is difficult to understand how to fit in and get your needs met.
My wife sent me here
Where is the line when you need help? Even though there are friends and family, you can still feel alone and unhappy. Men have been socialized to ignore the qualities that allow us to access male emotionality, vulnerability, and sensitivity. This is what makes the concept of a man going to therapy feel uncomfortable.
Therapy for men
Many, if not most, of the men that come in my office, don’t know why they are there. What they do know is: “This is not how life is supposed to be.” There is this sense that they give everything to work, family, and friends but still feel like it’s never enough.
Therapy is a process
The first step is to figure out what is going on and why. Usually, it is irritability and escapist behaviors. Escapist behaviors usually come in the following ways:
- Drinking too much
- Risky behavior
- Working too much
- Substance abuse
- Controlling behavior
Usually, one of these behaviors has gotten a client in trouble and hence they need to see someone.
Ideally, we want to catch this before it becomes trouble, but the point is that you are taking action. Deciding to go to therapy, even if someone else tells you to, takes courage. It is, in fact, a manly thing to do. It is taking responsibility and action in your life.
The next phases of therapy are fixing the symptoms and behaviors that are getting you “in trouble” which is followed by a focus on growth as an individual. These phases help each other, though – as you fix the symptoms, you facilitate growth – and as you facilitate growth, you reduce symptoms.
If you think you need it, it means you have needed it for a while.
Being the strong, silent father and husband comes naturally because that’s what men are taught to do. Men are taught to ignore their feelings and not complain. Yet, the greatest sign of strength is a continued desire to improve oneself. Think of therapy as a gym for the mind.
Too often, we ignore becoming the person we are meant to be – we focus on the house, the job, the wife, and the kids to get meaning out of our life and still feel hollow. It means we are detached from our identity.
Identity is strength
When we know who we are, and we deeply believe in our sense of self, we are powerful. Our relationships become deeply meaningful, setbacks (think the loss of job, wife, house) do not break us. Rather, we acknowledge the full range of emotions, live with them and know that we will only be stronger in the end.
Therapy with me is not about being happy. Therapy with me will make you honest with yourself and your life. Life may be unfair, it may be fair, it may hurt, it may be joyful – regardless, you will take understanding away of the full experience of life. You will understand, and you will define how you want it to be part of who you are.
Recognize your patterns of avoidance
Come to terms with the truths you have been ignoring. Become a better man. Become a better husband. Become a better father. Become a better person.
Ignore the stigma that men don’t go to therapy. You have little to lose and everything to gain. Make the call and come try it. Go once, go twice, then keep going… it’s worth it. You are worth it.