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5 Key Issues in Depth Psychotherapy for Men, Part 1

April 28th, 2013 · No Comments · men, Psychotherapy, psychotherapy for men

The key issues in depth psychotherapy for men are not fundamentally different from the issues that confront women in therapy, but there are clear differences in the way that men experience them.

psychotherapy for men

This difference in experience is tied up with the whole meaning of what it is to be male.

In this post, here are the first three of five key factors that very often present themselves for males through the whole process of psychotherapy for men.

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1.  The Male Mask and Self Acceptance

The women’s movement has revealed many social masks that our culture forces upon women.  We’re somewhat less aware of the masks that men are pressured to adopt.

Clinical experience with psychotherapy for men shows the tremendous pressure on men to adopt certain roles and postures.  The culture is well-pleased with unemotional men — and there’s a particular unconscious cultural hostility to vulnerability in men.  In our collective mind, the ideal of the strong, self-sufficient, serenely independent male strongly influences women’s expectations of men, and men’s expectations of each other.

Men are lonely behind such masks.  They keep men from being themselves, and from authentically connecting with others.

We have to get out from behind this crippling persona  and be conscious of who we are — as opposed to living with illusory pictures of the self.

WARNING: Entails seeing areas of weakness and broken-ness.  PROMISE: Starts the journey to compassion for oneself.

2.  Emotion, Feeling, Sexuality

The limited emotional range which our culture leaves open to males makes it very difficult for males to meet their need for love and intimacy.  Intimacy is also connected with vulnerability, and that doesn’t fit well with the dominant male mask.

All of this impacts male sexuality and sexual issues.  Men are often very fearful of revealing themselves in sex in ways that leave them vulnerable and open to being shamed.  This leads to routinized sexual expression in which the male never lowers his mask.  Sheer sexual pressure may keep him sexually active, but he can easily fall into incredibly sterile patterns of sexual relating.

3.  Receptivity & Relation to the Feminine

psychotherapy for men

Another key issue for males is their relationship to receptivity, which is seen as a feminine characteristic.  Our culture, even in humour,  stresses that males should be aggressive, seizing initiative in situations from sports to management to sex.  But the places where a male is receptive can be the most important and life-giving in his existence.

This may entail the male entering territory which our culture sees as feminine.  But being receptive — to what his own being is telling him, to the reality of others and what they are bringing to him — may prove figuratively, or even sometimes literally, lifesaving.

These three fundamental issues often surface in depth psychotherapy for men.  Two other issues will feature in Part Two of this post.

We’re not talking about pathology or abnormal psychology here.  These are key aspects of the journey of male individuation.  Often individual psychotherapy for men can profoundly assist on that journey.

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights  reserved lorenkerns ; NotionsCapital
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)