Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Individual Therapy, Men & Male Individuation, 1

July 17th, 2012 · 2 Comments · individual therapy, Individuation, male, men

Male individuation is a man’s uniquely individual path; it’s the goal of individual therapy for men.

individual therapy

Often, discussions about “therapy for men” lapse into really regrettable stereotypes that would be completely unacceptable in discussions about therapy for women.  Is there a way beyond this?

Here are four profoundly worthwhile questions relating to men in individual therapy.

Can You be a Male and be an Individual?

Looking at the shallow and stereotypical images of men that abound in our culture, it may seem that the answer to that question is “No”.  However, when men closely examine their individual lives and stories, they often realize that they actually have been walking a highly unique path.  They have things in common with other men, but much that is truly their own.

What is it that our culture does to us that makes us think that this isn’t true?

Is It OK for a Male to Have Problems or Weaknesses?

Our culture socializes men to be intensely competitive with each other, about nearly everything.  As a result, even in 2012, it’s easy for a man to interpret any weakness — on his part, or other men’s — as losing, with all that implies in terms of shame and failure.   So, many men work extremely hard to avoid any evidence of “loser behaviour” — a.k.a. being human.

Can You be a Male and Have a Life Journey?

Males are supposed to be strong.  That image of being strong is supposed to include being — and staying — in control.  So, it isn’t surprising that men feel strong pressure to appear in control — to others, and especially to themselves.  Men are supposed to have it all together, and to have everything more or less figured out.  That sometimes makes it hard for them to acknowledge that they need to grow and become as part of the natural personal journey of life, and of becoming themselves.

What Does Male Individuation Really Mean?

Above all, it means that a man accepts everything that he is, and seeks, as much as he can, to integrate it all into wholeness.  It also means accepting himself in his identity as a man in his own way, whether or not that exactly accords with the images of men that have been held out to him by family, society and male peers.  It entails finding a freedom to affirm and rejoice in who or what he is, and to relate to others, male or female, out of that freedom.  The journey of individual therapy can affirm men, and greatly assist in the unfolding of that process.

PHOTO:  Attribution    Some rights reserved by szeke

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Ruth Martin

    Excellent post, Brian. This is an important area that doesn’t get much attention. AmerIndian Sweat Lodges, Passing the Talking Stick and other devices to attract men into a therapeutic situations are all fine (I imagine). But the popularity of them seems to have waned.

    I strongly believe that It is the path of Individuation that is needed by both men and women to move toward wholeness. Do you think that men need to identify with a male archetypal setting in order to join in with this psychological/spiritual path?

  • Brian C

    Thanks very much for your comment, Ruth. I think that you’re right. We went through an era where therapy for men was strongly influenced by the approaches to male identity found in indigenous cultures, for instance, but there seems to be something of a move away from that. I believe that this is due to a recognition that, although there is a very great deal that is to be admired and treasured in the approach of various indigenous cultures to male identity and the various archetypes associated with male-ness, and much to be learned, men need to find their own personal relationship to their maleness, and to the male archetypes. I do think we need to take that archetypal dimension of maleness very seriously, but it has to be done in a way that takes the individuality of each man, and of his maleness, equally seriously. As you say, individuation is the key, for men, as it is for women. Again, thanks very much for your insights!

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