As I do at the end of every year (and the beginning of every new year), I think about why I do this work in the first place. I ask myself, “How can I best serve the men in my community?” or “What is it that I think men need most in my community?”
Counseling for men developed this past year after I did some soul searching, and figured out that to sustain a practice and myself over the long term in counseling, I needed to work with men because I enjoyed it so much. I found that a lot of the issues that I have worked through personally come up with men all the time. I wanted to dedicate my practice to working with guys who are struggling the same way I did in my past, and help them to find their voice and change their lives, whether it be to find a relationship that is good for them, to reduce stress in their lives, to find meaningful work, to access their emotions better or to have deeper and more intimate relationships with their partners, wives or girlfriends.
In some ways, I see that there are a lot of expectations on men to succeed in parts of their lives that they have not been able to be successful with, i.e. emotional intelligence and intimacy. I think that, compared to 50 years ago, the expectations of a mate have changed, and men are expected to do so much more. Just pick up any womens’ magazine and see what they are saying. Culture states that men are expected to be both the breadwinner and the heart opener. It’s hard to do both.
One of the central themes to my work is to help men to do that. I think we, as a culture, get into a lot of trouble when we give mixed messages to it’s members. Look at other things, like sex, consumption, savings, nutrition, happiness. There are so many examples of culture saying one thing and doing another. For us as men, if we never had the tools to begin with, if we weren’t afforded exposure to them growing up, we still don’t have them to create the type of life and relationships that we really want.
I want to help build a sense of community for men, and some of that work may look like this in coming years: mens’ groups or retreats, workbooks for men, cd’s/downloads for men, and other types of ways for men to get together and share experiences in a way that is different from meeting more traditionally at a bar, on the golf course or at the gym.
I love the work that I do, and value my clients highly. I appreciate working with each and every client that comes into my door, and I prize the role of change and growth in the men and couples that I work with. It inspires me every day, and makes me appreciative for the work that I do.