Therapy-space Cambridge Counselling & Psychotherapy with Duncan E. Stafford

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Counselling & psychotherapy in Cambridge and Online

Men and counselling and psychotherapy

Why do men find it difficult to use counselling and psychotherapy?

Statistics from the counselling and psychotherapy profession report that men make up anywhere from less than 20 per cent (BACP) to around one-third of those seeking help through counselling and psychotherapy, and yet it appears that men suffer distress as often and in similar ways to women. In fact, where suicide is concerned, there is a worldwide phenomenon of higher suicide rates among men of all age groups. Although for a long while in the UK male suicide rates had been falling, the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics report that in 2015 male suicide rates were the highest they have been since 2001. Indeed, at no point during the past 34 years have the rates of suicide been higher for women than they have been for men. (See blog for more information and statistics.)

'Big boys don't cry'

My work in the worlds of both education and counselling/psychotherapy with males would suggest that boys grow up to be men who believe certain things about what being a man is. Put simply, we get the message from childhood that ‘big boys don’t cry’. As life moves on, we internalise the idea that being a ‘man’ means you sort out problems without talking about them or involving outsiders.

Too often, boys and men would prefer not to admit they have a problem that might benefit from talking through with someone else. In an attempt to mask feelings of inadequacy, boys and men often turn to denial, anger or even substance misuse or addictions like pornography. An alternative to this might be to find a space in which you can talk, listen and express yourself, without being judged. For more information read Depression and suicide in men.

As a man, should I be anxious about asking for counselling or psychotherapy sessions?

The idea of asking for counselling or psychotherapy might raise anxiety if you are not certain what they are about. Here are some key points.

  • During counselling or psychotherapy, no one will tell you what you should do.
  • Counselling and therapy are non-judgemental processes.
  • During psychotherapy and counselling, no one tells you how you should be feeling.
  • Therapy allows you to focus on troubling issues.
  • Therapy and counselling are usually listening-and-talking methods of working.
  • Counselling and psychotherapy often deal with working with life changes.
  • Therapy can be about mental health and well-being.
  • Counselling and psychotherapy often deal with spiritual and philosophical issues.

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