top of page

Is Psychotherapy Different for Men?

Updated: Sep 14, 2023


Psychotherapy for men
Psychotherapy for men

Research suggests that men may shy away from psychotherapy. Why is this? Are men less susceptible to stress, anxiety, depression, or overwhelm? Do men possess some magical superpower that allows them to heal themselves? The research blames societal norms and stigma surrounding mental health for men’s reluctance to seek support. Men may feel pressure to be strong a self-reliant, making them hesitant to seek help for emotional or mental health concerns. Additionally, therapy may be seen as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, which can be perceived as ‘unmanly’. Men may also feel uncomfortable discussing their emotions or perceived failures in a traditional therapy setting, leaving them to avoid seeking treatment altogether. The good news is that these barriers do seem to be breaking down over time, and more men are seeking and benefiting from psychotherapy.


In my practice I have noticed that men often approach therapy differently than women. While psychotherapy is not inherently different for men, there are some factors that seem to influence how men approach and benefit from therapy. For example, I have found that men are more likely to seek therapy for specific problems, such as addiction or relationship issues, rather than exploring broader emotional or existential concerns. I have found that men, in general, prefer a more goal-oriented, problem-solving approach to therapy, rather than focusing on emotions and self-reflection. In my work with men, I try to always remain mindful of societal pressures and gender norms than can impact how men express their emotions and approach relationships.

Psychotherapy for men
Psychotherapy for men

Of course, not all men will fit into these generalizations, and therapy must be tailored to each individual’s unique needs and preferences. The most important thing for me is to foster a safe, supportive environment for exploring whatever it is my clients, male, female, or otherwise, wish to explore.


Creating a safe therapy space for men involves a few key elements:


1. Trust: I find I must work extra hard to establish trust with men. Men seem to be more suspicious of therapeutic processes and often assume therapists have hidden agendas. It is of critical importance that clients feel safe and comfortable, so before diving into interventions I take extra time to develop a relationship and assure clients that they are not being judged and that I consider their experiences to be valid.


2. Open Communication: It is no surprise that men are often less likely to share their emotions or vulnerabilities in therapy due to societal pressures. Therapists who work with men work hard to create safe spaces by encouraging open communication and normalizing expression of emotions.


3. Addressing Masculinity: Many men worry that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness or that they are not living up to social expectations of masculinity. Often therapists will attempt to ‘educate’ their clients about the harmful effects of toxic masculinity. I find this approach to be very judgemental; any therapeutic approach that labels a person’s core sense of self as harmful and toxic is unhelpful. It may be true that societal pressures to be strong and stoic may interfere with a man’s ability to connect with others at a deep level, but rather than label these strategies as harmful or toxic, I prefer to honour the strength it takes to seek help.


4. Validation: Many of the men who come to see me have felt unheard or misunderstood in traditional therapy settings. I work hard to create a safe space by validating their experiences and acknowledging the unique challenges they face.


5. Practical Solutions: I find that many men prefer a more goal-oriented approach to therapy, with a focus on practical solutions to their problems. We work with men to develop achievable goals and strategies for coping with stress and challenges.



Psychotherapy for men
Psychotherapy for men

Traditionally, counselling and psychotherapy models have been more geared toward women, most likely because women have been socialized to seek help and prioritize relationships while men have been taught to avoid vulnerability and seek independence. Male-oriented counselling respects this and aims to provide a safe and supportive environment where men can explore their emotions, develop coping strategies, and improve their mental health. Since our male clients tend to prefer a more action-oriented and problem-solving approach to counselling, we focus on developing practical solutions to their problems.


We also honour and emphasize men’s masculinity; in a world where terms like ‘toxic masculinity’ are thrown around, men can feel like they are being attacked. We are careful to acknowledge the importance of masculinity and help men to explore and redefine what it means to be a man in this changing world.


It is also crucial for therapists to address men’s unique issues; men often face unique challenges and issues, such as difficulties with communication or expressing emotions, relationship issues, or dealing with societal expectations. While more existential therapeutic models seek to dig deep to expose and address the underlying causes of these problems, with men we often simply address the specific issues that are presented. Therapists often refer to client experiences as layers of an onion; the presenting problems are symptoms of a core issue, and rather than resolving the symptoms we peel off layers until we expose the core. Many men prefer to develop solution to the presenting problems one at a time, and as the layers of problems fall away, the core issue may slowly expose itself as just another challenge to be met.


One of the most helpful aspects I have found in male-specific psychotherapy is the incorporation of physical activity or sport. Although this is valuable for clients of all ages and genders, in a world where men are made to feel like sport and fitness are expressions of toxic masculinity, this can be especially impactful for men. In fact, despite the tens of thousands of dollars I have invested in training to learn all the magic cures for depression and anxiety, the most common advice I give is this; the two most effective antidotes to anxiety and depression are exercise and nature. Go for a walk. If possible, go for a walk in the woods, but if you can’t, just go for a walk. I have found that men in particular find this therapeutic and often after developing a daily habit of going for a 30-minute walk, they no longer feel the need to come to therapy.


Psychotherapy for men
Psychotherapy for men

The Most Common Reasons that Men Seek Therapy For:

There are, of course, many reasons why men may seek therapy, and of course these vary by the individual, but here are some of the most common reasons why men come to us for therapy:


1. Relationship Issues: many men seek counselling to work through problems in their romantic relationships, family relationships, or friendships.

2. Stress and anxiety: men often experience stress and anxiety related to work, finances, or other life events, and many seek counselling to develop coping strategies.

3. Depression: men are more likely to experience depression than women but are less likely to seek help. Therapy is an effective treatment for depression.

4. Substance use: men are more likely than women to struggle with substance use, and many come to us seeking therapy as part of their recovery.

5. Trauma and PTSD: men are more likely to experience trauma, especially combat-related or job-related trauma, and psychotherapy offers several options to address symptoms of trauma and PTSD.

6. Anger and aggression: men often struggle with anger and aggression, and often seek therapy to learn how to manage these emotions in a healthy way.

7. Self-esteem and confidence issues: many of our male clients struggle with self-esteem and confidence and seek therapy to develop a more positive self-image.

8. Career and work-related issues: career stress may be one of the most common drivers for men to seek psychotherapy. Many men come to us with problems related to work, job stress, burnout, or career transitions.



Psychotherapy for men
Psychotherapy for men

We have found that a caring, empathetic, non-judgmental safe space where men’s experiences are validated can be a valuable resource for men to address a wide range of mental heath concerns. If you or a man you know is considering psychotherapy, there are a few things that we recommend considering:


1. Experience with men’s issues: it can be helpful to find a therapist who has experience working with men and the specific issues that men face, such as anger management, relationship issues, and career-related stress.

2. Comfort level: it is important to feel comfortable with your therapist, so it is a good idea to meet with a few therapists and see who you feel most comfortable with.

3. Non-judgmental attitude: it is important to find a therapist who is non-judgmental and accepting of your experiences and feelings, regardless of what they might be.

4. Empathy and understanding: a good therapist should be empathetic and understanding and be able to provide a safe and supportive environment for you to explore your thoughts and feelings, or brainstorm solutions to your challenges.

5. Evidence-informed approach: look for a therapist who uses evidence-based approaches to help you achieve your goals.

6. Availability and accessibility: make sure the therapist you choose is available and accessible and has a schedule that works for you.

7. Confidentiality: it is important to find a therapist who takes confidentiality seriously and is committed to protecting your privacy and personal information.


Overall, finding the right therapist is a personal and individualized process, and it is important to find someone you feel comfortable with and who can help you achieve your goals. At Kintsugi Counselling we offer a free introductory session so our potential clients can get to know us and see if we are a good fit to work together. www.kintsugicounselling.ca


7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Childhood Trauma, Adult Consequences

Alex's story Alex lived in a small, quiet, and unassuming town. Alex's world, from the outside, seemed ordinary, but within the walls of their home, a different reality unfolded; one of neglect and ab

Blog

bottom of page