Why Men Avoid Getting Counseling

It’s certainly to stereotype men to say that they’re afraid of counseling, self-help, or any other growth-promoting task. In an age of Dr. Phil, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and others, the psycho-spiritual consciousness has been raised, and so have the stakes. More is expected of men, and men may simply not be ready to get the help that culture, and their partners, expect them to get.

Historically, this pressure to self-actualize has not been apparent: traditional roles of men were more clearly laid out. Men fulfilled the breadwinner role, and knew what to expect of themselves in marriage. There was no need for emotional disclosure, or “connection” with their wives. Men simply didn’t do it, and women didn’t expect it of them. Depression, although still a phenomenon decades early, hadn’t been given the same legitimacy as it has been in recent years, thanks to Big Pharma and antidepressant medications. The cultural pressure, and subsequent pressure on men by their spouses and loved ones, is much greater now, and many men aren’t well equipped to deal with the pressure, or their own problems in general.

David Wexler, Ph.D, author of “Men in Therapy”, identifies several factors that inhibit men from taking action and getting the counseling help that they need (also Noyes, 2007).

  1. Men can often go several years contemplating making a change, so the decision to finally get to therapy is a truly difficult one.
  2. For a lot of guys, they aren’t educated about what therapy truly is. Often times, men get their ideas about therapy from the media, or from people they trust, but still lack understanding about how counseling really goes. A lot of men have confusion about the strange process of counseling, and what actually happens in it. It’s vague, and some men need better definition, and a better sense of knowing what they’re getting into.
  3. Anxiety is a factor in not going. Wexler mentions that it takes men a large amount of emotional energy for them to actually get in the door for an initial session.
  4. Even though some men (Noyes study, 2007) reported positive experiences in the therapy room, they still indicated that they would rather be able to take care of their own problems and not seek counseling again.
  5. Being stigmatized is a real fear for guys. They don’t want to be thought of or labeled “crazy”, “problematic”, “dependent” or “unsuccessful”. These are real threats to some men’s identities.
  6. There’s also the fear of being changed against his will by the counselor or therapy experience. They “worry that some fundamental aspect of themselves will be stripped away” (Wexler, 2009).
  7. The fear of not being understood by the counselor or therapist, especially by being labeled clinically or just not truly empathized with.

There are plenty of barriers to counseling, but sometimes the weight of unattended issues and problems is just too great to bear. Phoenix Men’s Counseling understands these things, and wants to help you with the things that are burdening you. It takes a lot of investment to get help: admitting that there’s a problem, asking for help, summoning the resources to come into counseling. It takes a lot to get here. Men aren’t used to doing this, and sometimes, we simply don’t have the tools that we need for functioning the best that we can, in our lives, relationship, work settings, or as being the best parents we can be.

If you’re looking for Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale therapists, and you’re a guy, give us a call. We’d like to help. Or feel free to book an online consultation through our website, using the big green button at the top of the page. We look forward to serving you.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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2 Responses to Why Men Avoid Getting Counseling

  1. Thanks for this post Jason. I think this is such an important issue that needs to be discussed more. Many men do feel a stigma attending therapy and it needs to be addressed.
    Certainly popular representations of therapy in film and media is generally a parody of what actually happens. I agree with you that there needs to be much more education about what to expect and what the benefits of therapy are. Thanks again for beginning this important discussion!

  2. Jason says:

    Good to hear from you, Clinton, and thanks for stopping by. Media’s influence on men is powerful, but as individual men, we can develop more awareness and take ownership of the stigma that affect our thinking and behavior. Hope all is well in Oz! – Jason

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