Within our rather demanding and fast-paced environment, it has become increasingly apparent that men can benefit from having a confidential and private space to explore the rapidly changing dynamics of what it means to be a man in today’s society. Unfortunately, some of the more traditional ways that men have learned to deal with their emotions can sometimes lead to mental health or relationship difficulties.
Therapy is a private, confidential space where men can openly connect to what matters to them. While it does not have to focus explicitly on “men’s issues,” a therapist can assist with awareness of learned ways of expressing oneself, feelings, thoughts, and psychological pain. In this way, therapy can assist with discovering more effective ways of being.
Common men’s issues that might be helpful to discuss
Anger and irritability. Often men are taught to hide emotions such as hurt or sadness, and this leads them to be more prone to express anger and lash out at others. This may be the only way they have learned to communicate that they are hurting. Anger can have disastrous effects on relationships; therefore learning how to communicate hurt and sadness effectively can facilitate an opportunity for repair and even strengthen relationships. Psychotherapy can help men let go of problematic anger and instead express the vulnerability needed to have fulfilling relationships.
Intimacy and affection. Stereotypical male ways of expressing love are to “do things” for their partner. This can include buying something, fixing something, or attempting to solve problems for their significant other. Sometimes this doesn’t help create closeness in romantic relationships. Partners can sometimes feel emotional distance because they may have wanted someone to listen without problem solving; or they many have wanted the communication of love instead of their partner buying something or doing something. Psychotherapy can assist with understanding your love language and that of your partner. It can help with learning new ways of expressing love and intimacy.
Non-medically explained sexual issues. Medically explained causes of erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive (hypoactive sexual desire), or premature ejaculation are addressed by medical doctors. However, psychological and lifestyle factors can also contribute to these difficulties. A therapist can help by treating underlying anxiety (e.g., performance anxiety) and depression that can contribute to sexual difficulties. Therefore, therapy can improve sexual performance and related concerns.
Numbing or pushing away emotions. Some men may have been raised in environments where the very experience of emotion was unacceptable. This can result in current attempts to avoid or control emotions. For example, drug/alcohol use, ending relationships, physical altercations, devaluing the importance of loved ones, or keeping people at a distance can be ways to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Unfortunately, these attempts to control emotions can result in even more problems and even more difficult emotions. Therapy can help men identify, learn to deal with, and effectively express emotions in ways that that are more adaptive, and can help preserve and strengthen relationships.