Jul 17

Therapy For Men: A Specialization In Need

Specialized therapy for men is in short supply. On the other hand, significantly fewer men than women seek therapy, and it’s not because they don’t have problems. So, anything that gets men’s attention about mental health issues can’t hurt.

The other side of the equation—on the other side of the couch, so to speak—is that fewer and fewer men are becoming therapists. As the New York Times headlined a pertinent article last year, “Need Therapy? A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”

Some men actually prefer seeing a female therapist. But whatever the case, the bottom line is that both male and female therapists who have male clients can benefit from receiving specialized training. From the description of an online course, “Crossing the No Cry Zone: Psychotherapy With Men,” taught by psychologist Fredric E. Rabinowitz, co-author of Deepening Psychotherapy With Men:

Men are socialized to fear core components of the therapeutic process: the language of feelings, the disclosure of vulnerability, and the admission of dependency needs. Male clients’ discomfort with the developing intimacy of a therapy relationship can manifest as early termination, anger at the therapist, unproductive intellectualizing, and other forms of resistance. Yet, cutting edge theory and research, emanating from what has been termed, ‘The New Psychology of Men,’ suggest that men can benefit from psychotherapy approaches that incorporate empathy and sensitivity to a man’s unique personal and socialized experiences.

Male psychic pain is not always obvious. Many men do suffer from depression and anxiety-related disorders, but often it is manifested in the forms of addiction, violence, interpersonal conflict, and general irritability. Many mental health professionals see men as reluctant visitors to the consulting room, coerced by family or legal pressures to attend. Initial resistance to psychological intervention might lead to the conclusion that men are not good candidates for therapy…

How can prospective male clients feel assured that therapy will be user-friendly for them? Will men someday feel increased ease regarding reaching out for help?

One sign of hope is that there’s a new therapy in town—well, in the state of Colorado—and, well, everywhere else too via a website—for men only. Well, and for those who care about men. It’s called Man Therapy.

From the recent announcement of this new ad campaign:

The Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment today launched Man Therapy, a groundbreaking approach to suicide prevention and other men’s mental health issues. The office and its partners, Denver-based advertising agency Cactus and the Carson J Spencer Foundation, launched the campaign designed to use humor to cut through stigma and help men tackle issues such as depression, divorce and suicidal thoughts head-on, the way a man would do it.

Dr. Rich Mahogany, the campaign’s fake manly therapist played by actor John Arp, has been described by the New York Times as “an affable, mustachioed, middle-aged man whose personality might be described as Dr. Phil meets Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s fictional anchorman.”

Take a closer look at the totality of www.mantherapy.org, and you’ll find an interactive site that’s clever and man-friendly. When you click on certain parts of the manly office furnishings, important info will be revealed. You’ll find such things as serious info on “gentlemental health” and a “Head Inspection” questionnaire to assess your problems.

Different scores will mean different things, of course, and one on the more serious end of the continuum will be labelled “troublesome.” Whenever a score reaches this range, Mahogany will comment, “Your results have me worried. And needless to say, if a pretend doctor like me is concerned about you, you probably should get some help.”