Dr. Adam Sheck writes about the impact of the shortage of male psychotherapists in the field.
Is A Good (Psychotherapist) Man Hard To Find?
The New York Times recently published an article “Need Therapy? A Good Man Is Hard to Find” which describes the impact of there being so few men in the field of psychotherapy. Less than ten percent of social workers under 34 are men and less than ten percent of the members of the American Counseling Association are men.
I know that when I was in graduate school twenty years ago, my classes were about fifty percent men and fifty percent women. Now, when I TEACH graduate classes in psychotherapy, I see one or two men per class at the most! We can go into the reasons that there are so few men in the field now (the biggest reason is financial), but I’m more interested in dealing with the IMPACT of this.
Men need the benefits of psychotherapy and counseling just as much as women do and yet over eighty percent of psychotherapy clients are female! As men, we do have the tendency to suffer from our male egos and part of that is that we believe that men can understand us better than women can.
This extends to the practice of psychotherapy. Yes, many men believe that a male counselor can relate more to them. Yes, many men are less embarrassed talking to a male therapist about embarrassing (to the male ego) issues, such as sexual difficulties. And yes, female therapists are just as competent as male therapists, yet if the men don’t come in for treatment, they can’t be helped!
My psychotherapy practice has ALWAYS consisted primarily of couples and a balanced number of male and female clients. Is that because I’m a man? I really can’t say, I just know it to be the truth. While I believe that I’m just as effective at working with women as with men, I ALSO believe that men can relate more easily with me than with a female therapist on many of their issues. And as psychotherapy becomes increasingly more “feminized” a great deal of potential male clients are put off and reluctant to seek support.
And I also believe that more heterosexual couples come to work with me, not only because I’m really good at working with couples, but also because I’m a man! Men are notoriously challenged by coming into couples counseling and are concerned about a female therapist ganging up with their partner against them. While all couples therapists attempt to perform balanced work, that perception/misperception can work against a couple entering treatment. I have an advantage in this area, at least initially, because these couples are more willing to begin treatment with me.
So whatever the perception, men need support and we need more men in the field of counseling and psychotherapy to support them. So please, encourage those you care about to seek out someone. AND, if you happen to know a man in the Los Angeles area, I am starting a new Men’s Support Group and would love to have some really great men become members of the group. Please contact me if you need more information.
Thank you so much,
Dr. Adam Sheck
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