Male Counselling – A Different Approach?

One of the alarming facts which came to light, this year, is the rate of suicide in young men. In a March 2012 article on BBC News UK is quoted as saying that more than 3,000 male deaths in England and Wales in 2010 were ruled as suicides or undetermined fatalities. In February 2012 (Bazzano, 2012) an interesting article appeared in the counselling profession magazine, therapy today, again with some interesting statistics quoted, in the article saying that 78% of all traffic offenses and 81% of all speeding offenses were committed by males. The article went on to say that 91% of all violent incidences in England and Wales, including 80% of incidents of domestic violence were male orientated.TracyRaverBaby01

The question, has to be asked, could this change? Furthermore, what part could counselling/psychotherapy, play in helping decrease the number of incidences and the staggering number of deaths and domestic violence, the surprising thing is that most therapists are actually female; this is not to say that female therapist are not capable of working with this client group. Another interesting fact is that training courses generally have a low male uptake; my own anecdotal evidence was that I was the only male with 25 women and I’ve been told that this was not unusual. An interesting aside of this is when I was undergoing my training I was told by one trainer that male therapist do not continue seeing clients, long term, but rather write books instead. The real issue here is how many male therapists actually see the perpetrators of violence and the suicidally depressed?

Something in the system is failing if 3,000 males die each year from suicide or of an undetermined fatality, also the staggering number of reported Incidents of domestic violence, where men are the perpetrators. They clearly could have been helped. There has been a suggestion that because of the number of female counsellors that maleness has been bashed; these are not my words, I rather feel that suppressed would be a more appropriate word. Again,In an article to the counselling profession magazine, Therapy Today (Duffell, 2011) in which the writer suggests that men are unemotional, my own anecdotal evidence has found, when working with male clients, quite the contrary. I have often seen men cry when there are estranged from the family, I’ve often seen a man breakdown when he realises that he will be not able to see his children, or have contact with them, due to his own actions. Furthermore, I have often witnessed anger and frustration, in the counselling room. I think the point here is that all these emotions are not considered positive; is it just that men are unable to show the softer side of themselves due to historical social constraints? One of the expressions I’ve often heard used Today is the word “man up” this gives me the impression that men have to somehow suppressed their negative emotions and take on the systolic persona. Being a humanistic counsellor I am a firm believer that the relationship, between the client and the counsellor, is the, catalyst for real change within the client. I think the mandate for councillors in general, is that male clients should be allowed space to voice socially perceived negative emotions, such as anger, to be heard and validated. I began this blog by setting a question which I feel is not really easily answered. My own anecdotal evidence suggests that men require a different form of relationship rather than a different form of counselling. I’ll be very interested to have your comments on this blog.

Reference

Bazzano, M. (2012). Reconstructing masculinity. Therapy today 23, 90.
Duffell, N. (2011, November 2011). Manifesting men. Therapy today, 22, 87.

 

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