Men are More Reluctant to Seek Psychotherapy and Counselling help than Women
In a recent article published in the BACP’s monthly magazine, ‘Therapy today’, Colin Penning writes, “Many people think men’s emotional literacy and ability to articulate their feelings is less than that of women. The question then is, do these assumptions about men reflect a stereotype or a reality? This was the question that Relate and the Men’s Health Forum set out to explore in their new report Try to See it My Way.
We know that men are more reluctant than women to seek support and advice when relationships run into difficulties. Far fewer men use telephone advice and helpline services. We also know that men are less likely to access counselling services generally. Men make up just 36 per cent of referrals to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. They are also under-represented in relationship support services: just 44 per cent of Relate’s clients are men.
So why can’t (or won’t) men seek help for emotional problems? The first and most obvious answer is that men are socialised not to admit to vulnerability, which is a prerequisite of securing help. The second is that maybe we aren’t offering the kind of support that men can relate to and that they find helpful.
The report suggests work is a key factor. Men’s tendency to work longer hours can cause relationship problems and conflicts around the life–work balance; financial difficulties can increase pressure on the man, who is often still the primary breadwinner in the family.
One of the key findings of the report is that men and women have very different approaches to communication. Insights generated by two focus groups of Relate counsellors found that men have a tendency to want to ‘solve problems’ while women want to discuss change and understand why things have happened. So men are coming to counselling with unrealistic expectations.
But the Relate counsellors told us that men may have become more open to the idea of relationship counselling in recent years. And they told us there may be things we can do to reach out to and engage men in taking better care of their own emotional health.
Our report makes a series of recommendations. Some are to national Government around raising men’s awareness of the importance of emotional health and making personal, social and health education a statutory requirement in schools. ”
Admitting to finding things difficult and seeking help is not a weakness. The therapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice have many years experience working through issues presented by male patients in order to discover what lies at the root of their difficulties.
The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is found at 121 Harley Street, London.