Men’s Counselling & Psychotherapy in Edinburgh, London and Online
What is men’s counselling and psychotherapy?
Having worked with many men through the years, I have come to a realisation, also confirmed by research, that there is a difference between men and women in the way men experience and deal with psychological suffering. A difference that is attributed partly to biological and mainly to social and cultural conditioning, which unfortunately tends to educate men to value predominately hyper-rationality and logic, and to view these as masculine and positive qualities, while unfortunately viewing emotions and their expression as female characteristics that are often associated with weakness or self-indulgence. The majority of men experience years of social and cultural conditioning that passes the message: appear ‘strong’ and ‘invulnerable’ and ‘don’t talk about your feelings, to do that is to be weak’. This is a very unhelpful attitude that restricts the emotional lives of men, silences and isolates them, and stops them from appreciating the breadth and richness of their emotions, and their importance for a healthy and happy life.
And then there is the unfortunate attitude in our society that sees seeking help through therapy as weakness, therefore making it difficult for men to seek help without fear of the stigma of appearing weak. Most men are also brought up with the idea that they should be able to ‘get a grip’ or sort things out for themselves. This attitude often results in men only seeking out help through counselling or psychotherapy as a last resort, when things have become extremely difficult.
What is more, when men do seek out counselling and psychotherapy, they are faced with another barrier. Men seem to have a different way than most women in the way that express emotionality, vulnerability, and sensitivity. However, traditional and mainstream models and approaches of counselling and psychotherapy are heavily based on involving direct emotional disclosure, something that many men find difficult. When in counselling, men, are expected or feel an implicit pressure to be vulnerable, sensitive or emotional in similar ways to women. This is partly because the counselling and psychotherapy culture has become highly feminised, and psychotherapists often expect men to be able to imitate women in the way they talk about and process their emotions. This is an attitude that can make many men feel uncomfortable and can prevent them from engaging fully with therapy, or even at times avoiding it altogether.
A male-specific counselling and coaching approach
My approach to men’s counselling is based in pluralistic psychotherapy (read more here), which is however adjusted for working specifically with men. Having a background in both cognitive and emotion-based psychotherapies, as well as philosophy and philosophical counselling, I am able to work in a manner that allows you to express yourself and process your difficulties in a way that engages the rational as well as the emotional parts of your brain. This results in greater engagement with therapy and counselling and enhances its overall success. I have also developed a male-specific counselling and coaching program that can assist you with accessing your emotions and enhancing your emotional intelligence. The Emotional Intelligence Program will assist you to:
• Become more aware of your and others’ emotions;
• Become better able to read and respond to others’ emotions;
• Become more able to express your emotions, something that will enrich personal and professional relationships;
• Become able to distinguish between emotions and thoughts;
• Develop your emotional vocabulary to encompass a broad spectrum of human emotions;
• Integrate emotional intelligence with cognitive intelligence when making important decisions;
• Find a balance and distinguish between action empathy (e.g. your willingness to do or fix things for others when upset or sad) and emotional empathy (the ability to just be there and listen and respond with empathy).
It is important to note that while we are doing the above work, we will try to bring you to a balance between cognitive and emotional intelligence. We will not try to lessen your reasoning and logical mind, as it is equally important for living a wholesome life. It is when feeling and thinking are ideally balanced that you will be able to achieve a greater practical wisdom that will help you overcome difficulties and allow you to flourish.
I have experience helping men overcome a range of issues and difficulties, including:
• Difficulties in relationships with partners, children, friends or colleagues;
• Low self-esteem and confidence;
• Anger and conflict;
• Workplace issues;
• Intimate/romantic relationship difficulties;
• Fatherhood and becoming a parent;
• Life changes & transitions (relocation, retirement, separation);
• Poor physical health & terminal illnesses;
• Addictions and dependencies (such as alcohol, pornography);
• Sex and intimacy difficulties;
• Dating and finding a partner;
• Sexuality (relationship difficulties both with families, friends and partners, understanding and coming to terms with your sexuality, ‘coming out’ and gay relationships).
Whatever your issue, we can work together to help you overcome them and to help you to grow as a person. Please get in touch so we can arrange our initial meeting. I provide men’s counselling and psychotherapy in Edinburgh and online.
I look forward to helping you heal and flourish.