- It’s difficult for many people to admit they need help and then to actually seek out that help—it’s sometimes even more difficult for men.
- That said, it’s important that men (as well as women) ask for and seek professional mental health help when they need it, as counseling can help individuals address and manage a wide variety of challenges.
- There are specific techniques used in counseling to help men feel more comfortable discussing the challenge at hand: first, being open about the process and giving the client control can help.
- Additionally, humor can help men open up in counseling and even gain a different perspective on the issue they are experiencing.
- Finally, goal-focused approaches are often effective in counseling for men, as they tend to prefer measurable goals and objectives so as to ease into vulnerability.
It is hard to admit, but sometimes, we need to ask for help. We need to admit that we can’t do everything and that we need counseling. As a guy, I know how hard it can be to ask for help. I don’t like to ask for help fixing my car, let alone fixing a problem with myself. Counseling for men can be the perfect place to face issues you’ve had for a while, or issues that you recently developed. Counseling for men can solve a lot of problems: whether you are struggling with insecurities, need relationship advice, have anger problems, or are dealing with other issues, working with a counselor can prove helpful. Here’s a look at the techniques your counselor might use to help you:
1. Honesty and control
First, being forthcoming about what counseling does or might entail can help men feel more comfortable. “One of the reasons that men feel threatened by the vulnerability of counseling is due to the fact that they don’t understand the counseling process. In an attempt to help, counselors should try to be open about the steps that are in place for treatment. Asking them if they would like to know how the treatment process works creates a sense of trust between counselor and client, which allows them to open up more readily,” Adina Mahalli, Master Social Worker, explains. Additionally, counselor can help their male clients by surrendering control (or at least alluding to the surrender of control) whenever possible and appropriate: “A lack of control often holds men back from the treatment process. Wherever possible, counselors should try to present the stages of treatment in the form of a choice (even when there might not actually be one). This gives men a sense of control over how the treatment will unfold, which reduces arguments or confrontation regarding the counseling process,” says Mahalli.
Humor can also help men to feel more comfortable and open up in counseling. It’s Licensed Psychologist Dr. Angela Johnson’s go-to: “It is true that culturally, men have been taught to suppress their emotional expression and often compensate by using their intellect and reasoning as their primary approach to solving problems. Given this, my go-to technique for working with men is often humor. For example, in a men’s anger management group I recently led, one of the gentlemen was discussing an incident where he was furious that a taxi tried to cut him off. He fumed and kept the driver from moving over in front of him until the last possible minute. He then confessed that this incident bothered him for hours afterward as he replayed it in his mind. I paused after he spoke and asked with faux-innocence, ‘So, why didn’t you just let him in?’ he and the other men in the group burst out laughing. I responded, ‘Oh, right. That obviously was not an option.’ This paradoxical look at a typical situation that evokes anger allowed the men to see it for what it was—just a choice that the guy made that changed nothing (the driver cut over anyway) and led to the man feeling angry and upset long after the incident occurred.”
3. Goal-focused approaches
Finally, techniques that are rooted in one’s goals are often successful when it comes to counseling for men. “In my experience working with male clients, I have found the most effective method to be a goal-oriented and solution-focused approach with concrete and measurable goals and objectives,” explains James Killian, Licensed Professional Counselor. “I find this to be especially effective if implemented right away. Of course, this is a generalization, but often men struggle with vulnerability early on in the therapeutic process and respond better to this type of approach. Typically, after they experience some progress, they are more comfortable opening up and exploring some emotional aspect of their struggles.”