Are You Unhappy and Struggling in Your Life and Relationships?
Are You Skeptical About Seeing A Therapist?
Many men believe they should solve their problems on their own.
If you’re like many men, the idea of seeing a therapist might not feel right. You might think of yourself as someone who can manage things on your own. The thoughts of seeing a counselor may feel strange or unnecessary.
And yet, something isn’t working for you and you’re thinking about getting counseling because you want things to be better. Here’s why men often seek a therapist – you’re bound to relate to:
- You feel unfulfilled or depressed. Life feels empty and meaningless at times.
- Your relationship is a mess.
- Your partner is unhappy with you or perhaps has left you.
- You tend to self-sabotage.
- You feel alone. You are tired of suffering in silence.
- Work has taken over your life and you feel stressed about it.
- You are having trouble managing your anger or other emotions.
- You are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Like most men, you might try to hide your painful feelings and struggle on your own. This might work okay but only for a while. Eventually, all these powerful and unpleasant feelings burst open. Sometimes the feelings take over and can result to an overwhelming rage and even despair or hopelessness. As tough as life may be right now, this fork in the road can be a big turning point. Let us help you turn your life around.
You can turn this moment into one of hope:
- Hope for more energy and enthusiasm.
- Hope for your relationship and family.
- Hope for a new and better life filled with laughter and joy.
Presenting Problems by Men
Men confronting the new demands and expectations of the 21st century are experiencing increasing levels of stress – often work or relationship related. This stress, and the new, complicated role requirements men face today, often result in the following types of problems, often seen in therapists’ offices today:
- Anger (in relationships, the workplace, road rage)
- Stress (often work related; and commonly presented with somatic complaints or feelings of irritation, frustration, and anger)
- Work adjustment issues (procrastination, avoidance, anger, success sabotage)
- Addictions (alcohol, drugs, sexual, video/internet, gambling)
- Depression (often expressed as boredom, lack of motivation, or just being “stuck in the mud”)
- Relationship problems (crises often precipitated by a wife or girlfriend who is fed up; or the man feels he is no longer “in love”).
Fear and shame deserve special mention here. The problems men experience today often result in, or are influenced by, these emotional states. Fear and shame result from messages that men are not doing the job – in the work place, or at home. And the job is increasingly difficult to accomplish today, because the man as sole bread winner is unrealistic in this economy. In a sense, life was much easier for men in the past, when they were simply hunters and warriors. A complicating factor is the male tendency to fear any “feminine” aspect of their personality, behavior or feelings. Men, who are raised predominately by women, are afraid that certain emotions, and their need for nurturance, means they are not masculine. If they are emotionally vulnerable, sensitive, or dependent on others, they feel ashamed and out of control. A man who is shamed by childhood abuse or enmeshment with an overprotective mother may become emotionally hypersensitive and subject to narcissistic injury (any perceived insult, complaints, criticism, or unmet entitlement needs lead to excessively hurt, angry feelings). At Aspire Wellness in Temecula, CA we can help you work through and understand these feelings.
Male Developmental Issues
There are many challenges for boys learning to be men today, particularly in families where effective male role models are not fully available. In too many families, distressed parents are angry, rejecting, or even abusive. The male brain often adapts to these circumstances, and can result in defensive role rigidity, anger and rage. Boys learn during childhood to suppress emotion – for boys becoming men, feelings and their expression can be considered shameful. To complicate this situation, boys are not generally socialized or taught to connect, bond, or develop meaningful, emotionally supportive relationships – especially with other boys and men. Boys are physiologically and neurologically oriented toward action, tasks, and playing with objects – not toward relating interpersonally. Raised primarily by women, boys get most or all of their emotional needs met by women without any required reciprocity on their part. This results in emotional, narcissistic injuries as adults when their needs and expectations are not met. Anger develops as a coping mechanism. William Pollack (1995) says that anger is their “way of weeping” – the way they express their emotional pain.
Men’s Relationship Issues
Male attachment needs are somewhat different from women’s. Men generally do not need verbal communication about feelings or “talks” about the relationship. Nor do they need direct, verbal validation of their feelings or needs. Men have a natural, biological proclivity toward interaction with the environment, more so than the verbally based interactions that women desire. They do need to know they are appreciated, respected and loved. And men are often quite satisfied by having these needs met with direct, physically nurturing behaviors by women. Many adult men feel a basic sense of security and even love simply by the very presence of the significant women in their lives. Men also experience sexual connection as a form of nurturance, acceptance, love, and even emotional security. Sex for men is a primary attachment need – compared to women, who need verbal communication and validation. Men also tend to have fewer friends than women, and when they do, they tend to focus on activities rather than verbal interactions (watching sports, hunting and fishing are examples).
Therapy for Men
Men are far less likely to seek help than women, and they often delay getting help until there is a crisis. Men are less likely to follow through with treatment recommendations by therapists and psychiatrists. The problem is not as simple as “resistance”. Rather, asking for help is viewed or felt by men as shameful. A man solves his own problems – that’s why men don’t ask for directions! Therapy was also designed almost exclusively as a “talking cure” – and the male brain and culture is not designed for a lot of verbal communication about feelings, relationships, or personal problems. That’s why men tend to be more guarded and defensive in therapy (based in fear and shame). It is not surprising that only about 1/3 of all therapy clients are men.
What can be done? Therapists need to “normalize” men’s feelings, behavior, and their tendency to be defensive. David Wexler suggests that therapists empathize with a man’s anger, and reframe his behavior by letting him know that he is not a bad man – he’s a good man who never learned how to deal with his needs and feelings more effectively. In couples therapy, men can learn what the feelings mean (both her feelings and his), why she says what she says, why she does what she does, and men can learn what a woman really wants. Men do best with tasks – homework assignments, and specific behavior change that makes sense. After all, most men want to protect and provide, and they are happy to succeed in those areas when the task is realistic and appropriate. Finally, men’s therapy groups are often less threatening than individual or couples therapy, and can be extremely helpful. In these groups, men get support from other men who identify with each other – this normalizes their “problems” and men will often take good advice more readily from a man he can identify with.
Imagine a life of fulfillment, with success at work and rewarding relationships. Through therapy, Aspire Wellness can help you discover the tools to empower you for success at home and at work.
Why choose Aspire Wellness for therapy?
We understand the issues that bring men to counseling. More importantly, we can help men to overcome these problem areas. We’ve helped hundreds of men with our proven therapy techniques and with our highly trained and skilled therapists and couples counselors.
Schedule An Appointment
If you would like to meet or talk with one of our clinicians about men’s issues and counseling call our Temecula, CA office at (951) 363-3150, or click below to fill out our secure online form.