Myth #1. Men are not equipped emotionally for therapy.
Quite the contrary…once given the tools and permission they need, men demonstrate a huge emotional capacity and excel in therapy. I am continuously amazed at how adept men are in addressing emotions with just a little prompting. A little goes a long way.
Myth #2. Men don’t want therapy.
Men want emotional outlets and therapy is one of them. It is safe, confidential, and easy to settle into. Men have such few venues that are free of judgment in which to express themselves. Oftentimes, they attempt to squeeze in extra sessions when possible.
Myth #3. Men do not benefit from therapy.
Once a framework is laid out, men not only benefit from psychotherapy but oftentimes they quickly learn to intuitively utilize therapy in meaningful ways, leveraging solid gains.
Myth #4. Therapy is only for those with major problems.
On many occasions major problems are the impetus bringing most into therapy. The most common regret I hear from male patients is, “I wish I had come in sooner!”
Myth #5. Men aren’t empathetic. Men are very empathic.
In fact, they internally empathize so quickly that they forget to verbalize it. They are often too focused on finding a solution, so much so that empathic responses go by the wayside. This jeopardizes their proposed solutions because others may not be sure they are understood.
Myth #6. Men can shake things off easier than women.
Wrong! Men suffer from high rates of anxiety and depression. Anxiety levels indicate how well men cope with issues. We know that psychosomatic symptoms are prevalent with men who suffer from anxiety and high stress. These symptoms include muscle tension, headaches, digestive issues, sexual problems, loss of appetite, poor sleep, body aches and pain.
Myth #7. Therapy isn’t worth the investment.
Therapy is expensive, however a 6-month investment is modest when compared to years of stress and turmoil. Emotional education and understanding of oneself is an investment that can be measured against the cost of not getting therapy. Those costs can include divorce, accidents, DUIs, loss of a job, hospitalization for physical problems, careless errors on the job, and many more that can have a devastating effect..
Myth #8. Men aren’t good when it comes to feelings or emotions.
Men are seldom allowed to express emotions because of gender roles. In fact, in western culture the first 20 years of a male’s life are focused on repressing emotion. Even so, men continually demonstrate amazing capacities in dealing with emotion when given the opportunity and direction.
Myth #9. Men do not like talking about sexual issues.
Quite to the contrary, men get relief when discussing sexual issues. They are really interested in making connections between their sexual behavior, fantasies, dreams and their emotional health. They are very curious about their bodies, their thoughts, their actions and how they compare to other men. Most want to know what desires and thoughts mean and if they are normal.
Myth #10 Psychotherapy is emasculating.
Being able to identify one’s self worth and embracing one’s sense of self creates confidence. Being able to express feelings with accurate vocabulary, less ambivalence, unequivocal understanding increases masculinity. Having a great body, large penis, sexual prowess, athletic ability, intelligence, and a large bank account are often used to define masculinity; but is of little help when it comes to truly connecting with others. Those qualities do little to help when lonely.
Myth #11. Men do not know how to communicate.
When given the correct vocabulary, insightfulness, and courage, men communicate quite well.
Myth #12. Men are not lonely.
Complaint number one I hear from men: “I am lonely.” They have tons of friends, great support networks, but they still feel lonely. Lack of deep emotional intimacy and an understanding of how to be emotionally intimate with each other without feeling emasculated is key. Early seeds can set a boy on the right course garnered through mirroring and twin-ship in early childhood. It can also be taught in adulthood.
Myth #13. Men are more sure of themselves than women.
Most men are more sure about being unsure than women. They can swirl in ambivalence until it destroys their mind, body and soul. Anxiety keeps ambivalence alive. It affects relationship and commitment issues. The struggle between love and hate, envy and gratitude, guilt and reparation…all of this feeds anxiety. Anxiety wrecks the body and mind.
Myth #14. Therapy is all about mother issues.
No; not all…you can throw daddy issues in there too. Not all therapy encompasses past attachments, memories and understanding of them. Most good therapies focus on both past attachments AND present attachments and an understanding about how the two come into play.
Myth #15. A female therapist is easier to speak with.
Honestly, it all depends on the man and the therapist. It is important to find a therapist that is willing to ‘go there’. And ’there’ can mean hundreds of things. You are in good hands as long as the therapist is willing to be honest, genuine, ethical, able to handle confrontation and is grounded in good theory. Remember, MSW, PH.D, MA, and ED.D are usually generalist degrees…meaning they can practice because they have some education in many approaches. Great therapists have the generalist requirements plus continued education in specific theory. I shutter when the term ‘eclectic’ is used to describe an approach. All this tell me is that a therapist knows a little about everything and but has mastered nothing specific. We are all generalist and ‘eclectic’ upon graduation. Finding someone who is licensed to practice and is grounded in one or two approaches is your best start.
Myth #16. Men are set in their ways.
Men in therapy are actually like sponges. They soak up knowledge with eagerness. They demonstrate this knowledge through insight and empathy. It’s as though they have found a new muscle and can’t wait to get to the gym each week. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is hard to get one’s self to the gym, but once there, few have bad workouts.
Myth #17. Men can handle their feelings better than women.
Not so sure about that. Review health statistics and causes of death. Anxiety causes the inability to handle feelings effectively resulting in stress. Anxiety and stress can be attributed for most causes of accidents and death.
Myth #16. A 45 to 60 minute session a week can do little for me.
Actually, only 10% of therapy consists of what goes on in the session. Therapy and insight is worked consciously and unconsciously well beyond what happens in the office (therapy session.) Therapy includes learning something, practicing it, bringing it back to session and reworking it. Therapy is a process that encompasses all parts of one’s life.