Are Women More Willing to Seek Therapy Than Men?
I’m not aware of a research study that has been conducted on this issue, but I certainly sense that the general population believes that women like/seek/enjoy counseling more than men.
Even when a husband and wife are in active marital counseling, women will often say to me, “He doesn’t want to be here.”
So, here are some reasons why men may be less inclined to get counseling than their female counterparts:
- Men anticipate that the counselor will most likely be a female – (it’s true; there are more female counselors than male counselors). And, he may believe that a woman will not or cannot represent his views fairly.
- Men believe that they will be “bashed” in a counseling office, either by a counselor or his partner. It’s important to know that good therapy does not include a therapist “siding” with one partner or the other.
- Men often have effective coping skills that are not “language” or “word” oriented, putting them (males) at a verbal disadvantage to a quick-tongued female (it’s the way the female brain is wired). It’s true; talk therapy relies heavily on the spoken word, but a good clinician can find alternate ways of supporting and accessing couple's strengths and assisting in better communication between parties.
- Men often employ performance-based activities as a solution to anxiety or relationship distress. i.e. A wife seeks more “connectivity” with her husband; husband plans for a weekend hike for the pair of them. It’s not so far-fetched to imagine that some simple planning and small changes will satisfy his partner and improve the marriage. Meanwhile, female partner is advocating for counseling, to be better “heard” and find more engagement. Neither solution is perfect (or terrible) and my suggestion is that both can be great!
- Men feel flooded by intense emotion faster than women (the female brain can tolerate more conflict) and generally revert to a fight or flight response much faster than his female partner (it’s elementary, Watson).
- Men sniff out threat much faster than women (it’s the hard wiring). A third party -counselor- can be assessed as a threat until counselor has earned his trust. It is the counselor’s duty to establish a warm and respectful setting for all members.
- Mainstream media minimizes men and discourages masculine behavior. Men on television are often portrayed as buffoon’s or blow-hards, with not much in between. Our current culture is often afraid of male energy; unless a man has an inherent strong foundation of personal esteem, he may simply choose to deny, even to himself, his own power, strength, ideas - or worse, take them underground. If one perceives that society, and the world at-large, is negating, it becomes second skin to anticipate rejection everywhere.