Men’s Issues

Men’s Issues
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What are “Men’s Issues” in Therapy?

“Men’s issues” may be a term you have read when looking at mental health articles, or maybe you have heard a mental health provider say, “I specialize in men’s issues.” I often have clients and others ask me “What does that mean?”

In a time when counseling programs are offering diversity trainings for so many different cultures, one that can be overlooked is men’s culture – it’s one of those things that is implied that everyone understands but is often not discussed in detail.

Men’s issues can still be about anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, but within the context of masculinity and male culture. An example of this could be working with men who are having issues with how they express their anger or those that are struggling to be open with others about their fears and concerns.

Why Focus on Men’s Issues?

It is not a big industry secret that most therapists are female (70.4% according to Zippia). Due to this fact, sometimes parts of the issues related to male culture can be overlooked. I have heard men say that when they go to therapy with their wife or girlfriend, they feel that the therapist and partner have “ganged up” on them. 

Concerns like this and underrepresentation in the field are a few of the reasons why males are less likely to seek out therapy. We, as men, are often told not to talk about our issues, to toughen up, to get over it, or that all you need is a swift kick to the rear. These messages that many men are given – usually starting at a young age – can make it difficult to want to open up and share vulnerable emotions with others. This can cause many men to tend to believe that their emotions are a sign of weakness, don’t matter, or that their feelings make them “a girl”.

It is important to focus on men’s issues with male-presenting clients because masculinity is a widespread factor in male culture and can affects men’s and boy’s behaviors. Not only are men less likely to seek counselling, they are also more likely to die from suicide, and to abuse alcohol and/or drugs. All this being said, masculinity in itself is not the problem. Therapists who specialize in men’s issues do not try to emasculate men but try to help them understand themselves better and truly embrace their masculinity in healthy, nontoxic ways (toxic masculinity is a whole separate subject on its own).

Understanding and Enhancing Masculinity

I am a big fan of both books and movies of the Lord of the Rings and one of my favorite representations of masculinity is in the character Aragorn. Cinema Therapy, a YouTube channel about applying therapy to movies has a good video about this, and I’ve included a link to the video below. 

But all fantasy aside, seeking a therapist who understands masculinity and men’s rights can help men explore how masculinity can be enhanced to better their lives. Being vulnerable can show strength, crying can show compassion and support, and seeking help can lead to better outcomes. If you are male-presenting, or if you know one who struggles with anxiety, depression, or issues related to masculinity, be sure to look for a therapist that specializes in men’s issues.

About the Author

John Loh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Finding Peace Counseling Center in The Woodlands, TX. John’s specialties include men’s Issues, anxiety disorders, and relationship issues, and he works with individuals, couples, and families.  For more information on men’s issues or any related issues, contact Finding Peace Counseling Center today by calling 832-306-2969 or email [email protected] for more information. You can also schedule an appointment now by visiting the Finding Peace Counseling Center website.

References

Decker, J., Seawright, A. [Cinema Therapy]. (2020, August 21). ARAGORN vs. Toxic Masculinity [Video]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/pv_KAnY5XNQ

Zippia (2021) Therapist Demographics in the US. https://www.zippia.com/therapist-jobs/demographics/

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