Why therapy is turning men away, a startling revelation.
After centuries of noxious masculinity and the concept that manhood entails boys being unable to shed tears and grown men refraining from discussing their emotions, a therapist's roster of clients has experienced a significant gendered shift.
"I certainly believe, particularly since COVID, that there has been a considerable amount of messaging surrounding mental health, seeking support, and acknowledging that it's acceptable to not be okay, and this has unquestionably led to an increase in men seeking therapy," stated Stella Ladikos, therapist and founder of Meraki Mental Health Training, in an interview with news.com.au.
"In my own private practice, I have observed a substantial influx of male clients, and at the moment, most of my regular clients are actually men, which is extremely encouraging to see."
This shift is also greatly impacting romantic relationships. Last year, the popular dating app Hinge conducted a survey among its users and discovered that 86 percent of respondents were more inclined to go on a second date with someone if they mentioned seeing a therapist during the first date. Furthermore, 97 percent of participants stated that they would prefer to date someone who actively prioritizes their mental well-being.
According to a poll, 45% of Australian men receiving therapy chose to discontinue treatment. It is not solely single individuals seeking assistance; there is also an increasing number of married men endeavoring to address personal growth and relationship issues before they reach the stage of taking their disputes to a divorce court, as mentioned by Cassandra Kalpaxis, a family lawyer and couples coach.
"We are witnessing a rise in men taking the initiative to see a therapist to confront the emotional challenges that arise from separation or even within the course of a marriage," Kalpaxis stated in an interview with news.com.au. "They want to discover what behavioral changes or communication dynamics they can implement in order to prevent the need for legal intervention from a family lawyer like myself."
With society finally heading in the right direction due to these encouraging developments, it begs the question: why are men discontinuing therapy at a rate of 45 percent, as revealed by an Australian survey?
One of the primary culprits is the very societal environment that restrains many men from seeking therapy in the first place. Ladikos explained, "The most significant difference with men is that it may take them a bit longer to take the initial step and, subsequently, to continue with the process.
“Engaging in therapy and then discovering the determination to persist in it, is combating that instinct that men possess based on what they’ve been raised with – that men refrain from shedding tears or expressing their thoughts.”
Jeremy Britton, 50, was struggling in both his professional and personal life when his boss suggested that he participate in workplace coaching with a psychologist.
“At the time, I was slightly embarrassed,” he shared with news.com.au. “I didn’t want to seek therapy because that would mean acknowledging that I am the issue, but realizing that once you change yourself, everything surrounding you changes was truly astonishing.”
Addicted to self-improvement and enhancing his life, the father of three from Brisbane has now experimented with emotion-focused therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, a 10-day silent retreat, emotional support dogs, and even firewalking.
According to an expert, men may be abandoning therapy because they anticipate their therapists to be capable of "rectifying everything." gstockstudio – stock.adobe.com He described his journey as "absolutely transformative," but it does come with a few hurdles along the way.
For many men, when a significant or challenging issue arises during therapy, it can drive them to flee from it.
"If men undergo an experience where they shed tears or display some form of emotion that feels uncomfortable," Ladikos explained, "there is certainly a possibility that they may not feel ready to confront that issue yet, and they may revert back to the mindset of 'Alright, I'm not prepared, I don't want to address this at the moment, it's fine.'"
Another factor that could lead more men to terminate their therapy is the belief that therapy is a "transactional encounter," where the initial therapist they encounter will be able to "solve everything."
"If it's their first time opening up to someone about truly difficult circumstances in their life, and there is a significant amount of self-judgment and shame associated with seeking help, they might simply conclude, 'Okay, well therapy is not effective for me' or 'I'm too damaged' or 'I'm beyond repair,' and then abandon the concept," Ladikos stated.
However, it is possible that they were simply with the wrong therapist or were utilizing an ineffective form of therapy.
Britton likened it to dancing.
"People claim they cannot dance, and many men refuse to dance even at their own wedding," he remarked. "But there is ballroom dancing and hip hop and salsa and country line dancing, and there are numerous variations of therapies, so you need to find something that suits you."
Ladikos also emphasized that therapy requires time.
"I always inquire with men: Do you go to the gym, and if so, do you achieve all of your fitness goals after the first session?" she questioned.
"Therapy is like a gym for the brain, and it also necessitates a bit of time.
It’s not merely a single and accomplished sort of encounter. It requires durability and persistence and it’s continuously laboring on your psychological well-being, as though you were laboring on your physique.”
Britton further stated that redefining therapy as "coaching" is also beneficial in eliminating the social disapproval.
“If you desire to excel in athletics or become physically fit or shed pounds, you have a coach,” he mentioned.
“A therapist is akin to a personal trainer for your sentiments, your emotions, and your cognitive procedures, and it’s quite remarkable.”
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