Men and Counseling
If you're considering counseling, but hesitating, then this needs to be understood: Seeking counseling is a sign of strength and resourcefulness. Not weakness or inadequacy. For us men, this can be a difficult concept to accept, but it’s critical in starting the process on the right foot. Because privacy concerns about counseling are also expressed, it's important to note that I maintain a strict policy of confidentiality to ensure privacy.
the expectations of Men
While a growing number of men find counseling perfectly acceptable, the majority of us are still averse to the idea. For decades, there's been a pervasive belief that counseling was something only for women and that a man who sees a "shrink" is somehow inadequate. However, despite being natural problem-solvers, sometimes our issues are too complex to simply think of a solution on our own.
Being a man in today’s culture comes with immense pressure. Many of us are driven by a need to live up to a very specific set of principles that involve providing constant portrayals of our strength, self-reliance, and assertiveness. Adding to that, our media is saturated with distorted images of these virtues, misleading our ideas of what's acceptable for our gender. By taking our cues from what's portrayed in culture, we risk a great personal cost. Instead of investing our time and resources into developing ourselves as individuals, many of us confine ourselves to a boxed-in identity that's defined less by who we are and more by who we think we should be.
However, that's unlikely to make you happy. Instead, you're setting yourself up for a cycle of misery and dissatisfaction furthered by attempts to numb your pain through reckless and irresponsible behaviors. By allowing the pressure of outside expectations to drive us, we end up only sacrificing ourselves.
Anger and resentment
Having thick skin and resilience are important to coping with difficulties. However, men aren't taught to recognize the difference between coping with our emotions and repressing them. It's important to understand that ignoring difficult and uncomfortable feelings doesn't make them go away anymore than ignoring a broken leg makes it easier to walk. Repression of emotional damage is unsustainable, and, over time, those feelings turn into intense anger and resentment.
This is largely the burden many men face. The expectations of our role may vary over time, but we're frequently limited in expressing ourselves in ways considered socially acceptable. A man who cries risks social consequences, such as a loss of respect or alienation from peers. Instead, we're expected to apply the man's code of "walk it off" or "suck it up" when we've been damaged, rather than show any form of vulnerability, such as weakness, loss of control, or inadequacy.
How can professional counseling benefit me?
Professional Counseling is about personal growth. It's not about talking with someone who will "fix" your problems. In fact, counseling is an effective way to help build on your self-reliance. Having an objective perspective to filter your complex thoughts and feelings will help you make clearer decisions about your job, your relationships, and your life. You'll make decisions with more confidence and self-assurance. You'll feel relief when you realize the thoughts and feelings you keep to yourself are normal. And you'll experience fulfillment in your relationships by learning authenticity.