A recent newspaper article in the New York Times entitled “Need Therapy, A Good Man Is Hard to Find” confirmed for me what I had already observed informally over the years I have worked as a male therapist in Manchester. Us blokes are rare in this field. Whenever I go to a therapy workshop or have any training I like to carry out a survey of male/female ratios (I’m funny that way!). It usually works out to be somewhere around 30% men. So for every one hundred therapists only 30 of them will be men (by my completely unscientific calculations).
The article from the NY Times has an even smaller amount of men in the therapy field in the USA than this. It states that only 20% of all of the Masters degrees awarded in Psychology in the states are awarded to men. In the states only 10% of the members of the American Counseling Association are men. These figures highlight the seriousness of the situation and wake us up to the feminisation of the mental health professions.
Why Male Therapists Matter
So why does it matter? Who cares if there are so few male therapists around? Well, the answer to that has to be men. Men care. There is something about having access to a male therapist when you are a man that is important (and no doubt the same is true of female therapists for women). As a male therapist it will come as no surprise to anyone that I have a high percentage of male clients. Over the years I have been told by clients that I was chosen as a therapist because it just felt easier to talk about the issue they were bringing to another man, a woman may not “get it” in the same way, or it may have been too embarrassing to talk about to a woman.
Mens issues in therapy
The NY Times article also states that men find it much easier to talk about certain issues with a man. These issues include fatherhood, anger management, affairs and sex. A common topic for male clients over the time I have worked as a therapist has been what it is to be a man. What does that mean in a society where gender roles are increasingly disappearing and empowerment of women is paramount.
I’m not saying for a minute that all men seek a male therapist, many happily work with female therapists and, as argued in the Times article “a good therapist is a good therapist” regardless of their gender.
Some women, too, prefer male therapists. My female clients through the years have either chosen me because they wanted a man, or they just thought I was the therapist for them out of the hundreds listed under counselling in Manchester on Google and my gender was irrelevant.
Counselling is important for men
Men are the least likely of the sexes to go into therapy. This is something I have blogged about before and I very much want to change. Men, especially British men with their “stiff upper lip” approach to life, can be reluctant to seek help when they need it. This is true of physical illness, and even worse for mental illness. This makes access to male therapists for men even more important. If the only way in which a man is willing to seek help is to speak to another man then we have a duty to make sure they have that option.
What do you think? Does the gender of your therapist make a difference to you? Are you a therapist with something to say about this blog post? Please comment under the post below and let me know your views.