Men and Therapy
Professional men living in New York City are so busy with their lives that they forget to check in with themselves. Men often suffer in silence because of societal expectations about how they should behave. Asking for help is viewed or felt by men as shameful or unnecessary -- men are wired to fix things on their own. A man should be able to solve his own problems! The problem is, men often don't know what's wrong. They have trouble identifying important symptoms such as anxiety or depression and are unable to connect the dots back to emotional issues when they have complaints in the body. Research tells us that men's brains anatomically are quite different from the female brain. We know that men are far less likely to enter psychotherapy than women. When they do finally ask for help, they tend to slide in sideways, when their lives are in shambles or personal, work and relationship problems have reached near-crisis levels. Even though men seem to be wired to deal with issues differently, in my experience, once in counseling, many find that having someone to talk to, and the supportive nature of therapy in general, improves many aspects of their lives. Some of the reasons men in my practice seek help are:
- The insistence of a friend, family or partner
- Disappointing or a history of failed relationships (personal and work)
- Trauma and attachment difficulties
- The experience of feeling disconnected
- Somatic complaints or body symptoms
- Anger and rage management
- Pressure to settle down, marry or "grow up"
- Difficulty balancing career, relationships and family
- Time management issues
- The desire to be a better parent or provider
- Career and work dissatisfaction
- The need to manage stress in healthier ways
- Identifying self-defeating behaviors and conflicts that interfere with personal success
- Shame and self-esteem difficulties
- Family of origin problems
- Life purpose and spirituality concerns
- Sexual concerns associated with aging
If these issues are not addressed, men can experience a range of symptoms including somatic complaints (pain or other symptoms in the body), anxiety, depression, anger, addiction and feelings of isolation and aloneness. When men ignore emotional issues they often turn to avoidance and numbing behaviors such as sex, exercise, drugs, alcohol and overworking. These behaviors only complicate the existing, underlying problems. Therapy can be an opportunity for men to have a confidential place to sort out societal demands and expectations with their own needs and hopes for the future. The role of the therapist is to help "normalize" complex feelings and emotions. In this way, therapy can help men achieve a better understanding of their own needs, learn self-expression and ultimately feel more connected to their own inner experience so that they can find pleasure and meaning in their lives. In addition to or instead of individual work, couples therapy can help him understand her better and group therapy can give guys a chance to identify with other men and have a shared experiences which can be very therapeutic.
This article from GoodTherapy.org may be a helpful resource for men contemplating counseling.
NYC Therapist Kimberly Seelbrede, LCSW is a skilled Psychotherapist, Relationship and Stress Reduction Expert in New York City. She provides therapy, EMDR & Coaching to individuals and couples.