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MEN IN THERAPY

I personally despise the idea of men having to be “macho” at all times.  Societally, we put a lot on our men to be brave, strong, buff, responsible, rich, a provider, romantic, etc, etc. Personally, I appreciate and find nothing more intimate than when my partner opens up to me with raw emotions. I love his ability to trust me enough to expose his deep fears and sensitivities, without the fear of judgment. To me, that shows a lot more strength than being able to bench press 500 lbs.

Societally, we assume men do not go to therapy. We often judge the perception of men needing an outlet to express themselves and let their guard down. In my personal life, I often hear my friends (or friends of friends) chatting about how “feminine driven” counseling is. “Only women go to therapy,” or “I bet you get a lot of women to seek you out for couples counseling and their husbands just cringe.” 

The ironic thing about this assumption (in my experience), is that it is a complete misconception [and] what’s extremely interesting about my population or people seeking my services,  is 75% of them are men…

Men from a range of ages (19 to late 40’s), varying in races and sexualities. Men who all struggle with similar issues of not knowing how to fully be themselves in their relationships. The younger men may be struggling more with how to present their authentic selves while dating and pursuing partners in this immediate gratification-false perception-heavy expecation driven dating world, while the more seasoned men are struggling with how to connect with their children/partners; how to be true to themselves in a relationship that has (hardly ever) served them positivity; and how to show their sensitive side to others (without fear of being completely rejected or judged) so they can get their needs met and feel less insecure as a “man.”

Since I started seeing clients, I was curious (and also a little nervous) as to how to “market” my services. I was especially nervous as to how to expose my services to others in my age range; mostly because I believe we easily get caught up in a  false sense of pride as a generation, which is largely due to societal norms and expectations. (This goes for both men and women, regardless or race and sexual orientation). “We don’t need help!” So you can imagine my fear of coming to them with services that help with building vulnerability and exposing hardships to (me) a total stranger.

I was (and continue to be) extremely relieved to see the positive reactions and response from people as I started to educate them on my services and expose my passion of working with relationship and self-perception related issues. More people were actually bonding with me based off my career and passions, because they finally felt safe to disclose having issues within their relationships. They didn’t have to fear me judging them and men (especially) felt empowered to have the space to let everything go to sort through. I strongly believe our society needs counseling, especially for the millennial generation. We don’t have to live in fear of exposing the real us. 

With that said, since I started my career I naturally attracted like-minded individuals who were needing a safe outlet to expose emotion. The men that sought me out were creative, passionate and running into repetitive issues in their own relationships that they were not completely satisfied in. They were financially successful, educated… on paper, “had everything.”

They all seem to be tired of not feeling comfortable exposing their vulnerabilities to family, friends and even their partner. In essence, they were tired of denying their sensitivity.

(Before I continue… I would like to discuss the word “sensitive.” Let me express it is NOT a negative word and does not reflect a “cry-baby who wears their heart on their sleeve.” Sensitivity to me is being strong enough to express emotional responses and being self-aware enough to explore why and what you need. It’s being able to identify “safe” people to express emotions to and being strong enough to accept the ones who are not. The word “sensitive” often has a negative connotation, [at least I know it did in my home growing up] and we are often told as children to “suck it up,” or “stop crying.” As a result, our normal emotional responses would be completely dismissed and would often have extreme consequences. We then learn to reject that label and mask our emotions, especially men, because we start to identify “sensitivity/exposing emotions/needing support” as BAD).

The men that I work with are extremely “sensitive” (even when it’s subtle) and I honor the strength that it genuinely takes to expose that to another human-being. They are exhausted from playing the tough-man role that our society has subjected them to. It’s extremely difficult for them to learn how to trust themselves with their natural reactions and emotions, while exposing it to others around them.

Men should continue to embrace therapy and counseling services.

I admire the men that seek my services, individually and/or for their relationships in couples counseling, and I would like to give direct kudos to my current male clients. I genuinely salute you and your strength to fight against the societal judgement of “men seeking counseling services” in the first place, and I full-heartedly appreciate your strength to work on building the more confident you… that includes emotions.

Alysha Jeney

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