Counseling for men - Therapy for toxic masculinity
Try to imagine Elon Musk in therapy. Does it add up? He has all the money in the world, comfortably off and with a happy family. There is no reason he would be upset and need help. He should not even have emotions. Well, that is why counseling for men is important.
Counseling for men mostly takes place after the tiring efforts of a man to hold his toxic masculinity fails. The specific counseling for men is designed in ways that would make them feel more comfortable. It is no secret that men seek help far less than women. This does not mean they are not in need of help. Research shows that the men’s suicidal rate is four times higher than the women’s. Society is full of toxicity that holds men down, making therapy sound weak. It is not, and we have the utmost respect for those who seek help when they have to, ignoring the vicious social norms. As much as suffering silently is heroic, being able to take the steps for your betterment with a whole society that holds you back is incredible. You never know who you inspire.
Admitting we need help is difficult in itself. However, it is especially difficult for men. Men struggle with depression, suicidal thinking, and many other issues but they are unlikely to disclose these to anyone. Thus it is unlikely that anyone else understands their suffering. Men bottle up emotions to make sure talking about them does not take away their masculinity or make them look any less manly. Everyone wants things perfectly figured out. Realistically, that is impossible. Men just don’t seem to have the freedom to admit to it.
Reasons that men seek therapy/counseling
In most cases, a family’s main and basic provider is a man. In other words, most times the financial responsibilities fall directly on men, among other things. People overlook men’s emotions way too often. This practice forces men to put on a brave face even while breaking down inside. They cry too little. Complain or say no too little. There is nothing they can not be able to do. Nothing they should ask a woman to help them with. There is a certain unrealistic burden that is put on men by society. Obviously, these unrealistic measures would put a strain on anyone. Here are few identified reasons why that men seek counseling.
- feeling irritated or frustrated
- depression symptoms
- unexplained chronic body pains
- substance abuse or addiction
- other addictions such as gaming, gambling, etc.
- bipolar issues
- body image issues
- feeling stuck
- lack of motivation
- suicidal thoughts
- family problems that seem to arise because of him
These problems may arise due to different issues such as not being paid enough to feed the family or the inhuman load of work that they complete without complaining. Most of the time, men seek therapy without informing friends or family. Counseling is a safe space to release emotions and has a nonjudgmental figure to talk to while receiving the advice they need. However, this does not mean we encourage men to not share their troubles with the family. What we are saying is we understand that it can be difficult sometimes, and counseling can be a healthy alternative.
Toxic masculinity and men
Toxic masculinity consists of harmful and unnatural beliefs about men. Most of these are based on the fact that men are superior to women when it comes to tolerance of any kind. If they are likely to be any different, they may be labeled to have the characteristics of a girl. For men who believe in masculinity to depend on being rough and tough, this is a big insult. Toxic masculinity does more harm than good most of the time. For example, during court cases where a child’s guardian is selected, men hold back their genuine fight just because they do not want to look weak. This results in emancipation and once the father puts up no fight, it is unlikely anyone will be convinced of his emotions.
This theory sinks in boys’ minds during puberty. Their tears and expression of emotions will be treated with statements such as ‘stop complaining like a small girl’. Eventually, what goes into a little boy’s head is that girls cry. Boys don’t. Boys are tough. If a boy cries, he becomes a girl. Instead, he can be angry. Shout and fight and show arrogance cause that is what men do. When children grow up around these environments, it is inevitable that these thoughts persist their whole life. They end up abusive parents and husbands, unable to share their feelings and be another one’s go-to person.
Most of the time men that are victims of toxic masculinity are the reason most of the other men find it hard to reveal their helpless situations. If their best buddy is going to judge him for struggling, how will the rest of the world react?
What does counseling for men look like?
I am sure as a ‘real man you have been told to solve your own problems. This may be the reason you are so ashamed to reach out for help. However, unresolved mental health issues may bring about chaos not just for you, but your family.
Toxic masculinity or not, everybody has their preferences and pride. Men often mistake counseling to be a touchy, invasive, boring, or an unnecessary push towards sensitivity. Counseling for men, just like any other counseling technique is designed according to its clients and their traits. For example, a man won’t undergo counseling the same way a couple would. Counseling for men involves direct, straight-talking, which is based on finding a solution to the problems. There is no messing around when it comes to dealing with real-life problems.
Here is a more detailed look at the process of counseling for men.
Creating a safe space during counseling
The biggest challenge most men face is not having space where their struggles are welcome. When they do not have anyone to go to that they know will not judge them, they tend to bottle it up, for the sake of their pride. Counseling is a safe space where a professional is dedicated to helping men get through their struggles. There is no judgment involved. Neither will the information be disclosed to anyone else. The safe space issue is mostly due to the stigma of the society where men’s freedom of expression is severely limited. Research also shows that clients claim this emotional suppression has taken place since childhood. Thus, it is the therapist’s responsibility to convince the client that as opposed to all his learning, this space is free for him to break down and pour his heart out.
If the client does not let his emotions out, there is no way the sessions would be successful. In other words, if the client does not feel comfortable he should consider looking for a counselor that he is comfortable with. He may have to change his choice over and over until he finds someone he can confide in. This is ok, and necessary to get the maximum of the sessions.
Explaining the procedure of counseling
Most men make up their minds to seek help with a lot of doubts. Thus, explaining what the outcome of the counseling will be, what to expect, what to not expect and other vital information gives them an idea of what they are getting themselves into. It also helps grow trust between the counselor and the client. The basic understanding of the end goal and how they are going to get there clear the client’s doubts and has them ready for the process. Counselors should be open about the process and its outcomes so the client doesn’t feel stuck in a process that he does not understand but desperately need. It is important that they understand they have certain control over their treatment process. This helps the client open up better.
Being empathetic towards resistance during counseling
Sometimes, men can resist certain advice or treatment. This is mostly when they are scared to look weak in front of others. These responses can be due to the traditional toxic masculinity mindset. Therapists have to face these situations with understanding and have to look beyond, in order to successfully deal with the situation.
Comfortable communication during sessions
Counselors are about to deal with a human that has been taught to suppress his emotions for as long as he can remember. He may not know otherwise, or the joy and peace it brings. Using techniques such as humour helps the client feel comfortable and will help them open up. It may also help them to view incidents from different points of view. Men tend to take action and make decisions using rational thinking and reasoning. Humor helps them let out that frustration, especially during counseling and can be followed up by a meaningful, more relaxed conversation.
Dealing with shame ducing counseling
Men carry the shame that they feel by being inadequate, flawed, or a failure. They dread others recognizing this. The counselor has to work on de-shaming men. This involves making them understand that everybody struggles and it is completely normal. Most men do not understand this because men they meet are equally struggling to cover their issues. As much as de-shaming, counselors should also make sure their words or actions do not trigger shame. Men who struggle with social stigmas and oppression take a lot of courage to go for help. One word of shame could drag them back to being hopeless and suicidal.
End goal approach of counseling for men
Counselors believe that when it comes to counseling for men, the goal-oriented approach is always more successful. Men are mostly seeking professional help because of the burdens of families and other important aspects of them. Thus, having a clear plan of goals and objectives keeps the client focused. They are more grateful to find a solution for their mental stress as soon as possible. At the same time, progress pushes them to open more. Being unsure about counseling and experiencing its positive aspect helps their confidence in the process. They will gain faith in the sessions and start opening up more.
Proper timing and pace
Some may change overnight, while some take more time to understand, accept and adjust. Counselors will watch their client and recognize their pace and respect it. The progress may be slow, but your counselor will allow you space and time you need to change your life. Sometimes clients can be very resistant, and the process can be very hard on them. It takes a lot of patience and faith from the counselor’s side to see their client in a better place. Incorporating other topics of interest may create a more intimate bond between the two, and the client could trust the counselor’s word while the counselor trusts in the client’s effort.
It is important that counselors explain to men that counseling could fall on deaf ears if they don’t take it upon themselves to work towards bettering themselves. The counselor will encourage active commitment to the client. These suggestions may be met with resistance. For example, work issues may require the client to talk to their seniors. Clients may not take these steps due to different reasons. It is up to the counselor to explain to the client what to do and why. It is up to the client to decide whether they take those steps for their betterment or suffer silently.
Group counseling for men
Some men may be more comfortable with joining a group before reaching out to a counselor alone. This is mostly due to the reluctance to admit to his struggles and to have an insight into what happens during therapy. However, therapy groups can work as great support systems for each other. Men may identify similar issues and will know that their struggles are not unique. They will watch each other progress, which can work as a great mechanism of hope.
If all goes well and smoothly, you will be a happy client walking out with ease of mind and a better understanding of how to deal with your struggles. Hopefully, you will help your son escape toxic masculinity issues, so he would not go through your experience. Reaching out to help when it is most necessary helps a man balance their tedious life. The impact of their frustration is not only felt by them, but by their families. Thus, letting the guard down for the sake of themselves and their families is one of the best decisions a man can make.