Have you been considering seeking therapy services for help with issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma but feeling unsure? Is one of your concerns opening up to the right person? Perhaps you have had a negative experience in the past influencing your uncertainty?
Recent research has shown that women make up 70 percent of therapists and 58 percent of psychologists in the United States. While a majority of clinicians are female based on present research, the difference in perspectives of clinicians of different backgrounds can be a considerable factor when picking the right therapist.
There are many factors to consider when seeking an appropriate therapist. Here are some areas to consider.
1. The Male vs Female Perspective
Clinicians often bring their own life experiences and points of view into their therapy sessions when working with clients. In this case, a male therapist can talk about obstacles he’s overcome in his own life and share them for benefit of the growth of the therapeutic process.
Men and women possess different ways of viewing the world around them based on their experiences, thought processes, behaviors, and attitudes. Seeking a male therapist who has gone through issues you’re experiencing right now may provide empathy for you.
On the other hand, women may benefit from seeing a male therapist because he can explain the behaviors and the mindsets of how men think and act in relationships.
Talking with a professional male therapist may help her to have empathy for the man in her life and understand the motivations behind his actions and behaviors.
2. Your Comfort Zone
Some men feel more comfortable in the company of other men than they do in the company of women. Depending on past relationships with women, they may feel shy speaking to women.
Discussing issues with another man about certain topics like sexual performance issues or relationships with women may be easier to discuss with a male professional for many reasons.
What’s most important in therapy sessions is that the patient feels comfortable with their therapist. This comfort level enables them to open up about personal issues.
When men are uncomfortable speaking to women about a particular issue, it can hinder the progress of their therapy. In this situation, some men may be hesitant to go further with the presenting problem and presented emotional issues with women because they are too fearful to be vulnerable about a particular topic.
On the other hand, if you are a woman there may be some topics in general you feel more comfortable sharing with a male therapist depending on what you are discussing in therapy. Different backgrounds can also mean different perspectives and approaches in the therapy space, leading a more comfortable experience.
3. Opportunity for a child to have a positive role model
In a single-parent household where the parent is a female, a child may have no male role model in his life. Speaking with a male therapist may provide the child with an opportunity to engage with a positive male role model. If a child feels alone or abandoned in a sense, it can be beneficial for the child to see a male therapist for the child to have an adult male figure to confide in.
There are many situations where a child may feel comfortable sharing and communicating their feelings and emotions to a male therapist that he may not be able to discuss with his mother. Especially if communication between the mother and child is not very effective. She may place blame on the boy which could make him feel unsafe discussing his feelings because the mother hasn’t worked through her own issues.
4. Past Trauma involving the Opposite Sex
When a person has experienced verbal or physical abuse by a member of the opposite sex such as a family member or spouse, he or she may feel wary of discussing the situation freely with a therapist of the opposite sex.
This is especially apparent if he has developed negative feelings about the opposite sex in general. Seeing a therapist of the opposite sex may eliminate the triggers and stresses that may be felt when discussing this with someone of the opposite sex.
These triggers and stresses could impact the level of progress during therapy. Especially if the patient has not ended the abusive relationship. For example, if you are a man who recently became separated from an abusive partner after many years, then speaking about this to a male therapist may leave you in a more comfortable state of mind to speak on the issues connected to it.
5. “Boys Don’t Cry”
“Boys Don’t Cry.” You’ve heard the old phrase used many times. Unfortunately, even though times are progressing, many men still feel that it’s “weak” to cry or express their feelings. “Man up.”
When working with a male therapist, male patients can learn that emotions are completely natural and should be expressed in a healthy manner. The false perception of men “stuffing their feelings” is unhealthy for men and women.
As a male, male therapists can help men understand that it’s natural to feel and express emotions and it’s unhealthy to bury emotions.
In therapy sessions, men realize they are not alone which allows them to express their emotions, fears, and struggles without judgment. This leads to feelings of strength and empowerment.
Alex Bauman, MSW, CADC