American cultural norms have long shaped the way men evaluate themselves. The stereotypical roles that define men within a culture encompass a body of socially constructed ideas and beliefs about what it means to be a man and against which men are measured by their societies. Masculine ideologies affect how men think and feel about themselves and they influence male roles in a society. Men internalize these concepts from an early age and through the process of masculine role socialization, boys learn how they are expected to act, feel, and think, and they often face negative consequences if they fail to meet those expectations.
Beginning in boyhood, many men learn they should avoid stereotypical feminine characteristics or behaviors and strive to be “tough.” Some do this by attempting to suppress emotions, thoughts, and behaviors potentially associated with vulnerability. Because of the stigma attached to expressing his emotions, a man who experiences grief and sadness after the loss of a loved one, for example, might resort to substance use as a way of coping. He might struggle with identifying and expressing feelings leading to symptoms of depression. On the other hand, difficulty identifying emotions can increase anxiety leading to the expression of anger rather than the expression of the actual emotion being felt. Men often do not develop an adequate vocabulary for expressing feelings; instead they express them nonverbally (e.g. through violent actions or simply withdrawing, i.e. refusing to talk about it) or suppress them (e.g. through substance use). Men are expected to be independent and able to take care of themselves with little or no help from others.
Today’s man is evolving. The old “keep it inside” or “drink it away” approached to dealing with psychological or emotional distress has shifted to a new “talk it through” strategy.
Talking about feelings can help men live happier, healthier lives.
If you are feeling like you’re losing control of life, talking to a licensed counselor who specializes in men’s issues can help. If you are worried about choosing the wrong kind of therapeutic discipline (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy, and so on), don’t be. Studies have shown rapport with the therapist is more important than the specific technique employed. A good therapist wants to make you feel comfortable so you can speak on your own terms. Participating in therapy is an investment in yourself, and you will gain more from this investment if you feel comfortable with the therapist you choose.
We are an LGBT friendly practice and are affirming of all gender identities.
We understand it can be difficult for some male-identified people to reach out. If you’re looking for a therapist who “get’s it,” we’re here to help. While all of our therapists work with men, several have a specialization in men’s issues.