Question: “I have been trying to get my husband to come to counseling. Do men have different views about counseling than women do? I am motivated to come in and explore some things together, but he doesn’t believe that counseling is needed. What do I do?”
Answer: Men and women both view situations differently when attempting to resolve problems.
Women solve issues by verbalizing them, talking to others and processing externally. This is why you see women having coffee with their girlfriends for hours talking about their struggles; whereas you rarely hear of men having personal discussions with their male friends. Men, on the other hand, tend to internalize issues in an attempt to solve them on their own. John Gray, Ph.D., talks about this in his book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” in which men retreat to their man cave in order to process through the struggles in their lives.
Men are fixers and try to work through things internally. If a man is unable to do this on his own, many times he feels like he is weak or has failed. This difference in the way that men and women seek to solve struggles is also seen in their motivation to attend counseling. According to an article on Gateway Counseling website, “Only about one-third of people in therapy in the US are men. While over 14% of men in the US experience a mental health issue, very few of them get help. Only 60% of depressed men go for treatment, but over 72% of women obtain help. And while 9% of women make use of outpatient mental health services, only 5% of men do so.”
I would say that in my office, around 60% of my clients are women; whereas only 40% are men. I also find that when couples attend counseling, it’s usually the woman who has initiated the session. I do remind men that pursuing counseling is a positive strength and that every individual can benefit from an objective soundboard in working through their struggles.
If you are trying to motivate a son, father, husband or male friend to attend counseling, you can normalize the hesitancy to do so with them using this information. It’s also beneficial to let them know that counseling does not indicate a significant issue or weakness, but is a way to gain proactive strategies and tools for working through present or future things that they may face.
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