Men in St. Louis may be apprehensive about therapy, but there are many benefits they might actually find appealing. Therapy gets a bad reputation for a lot of men; they’re told it’s just for weak people who need to cry about their problems and their childhoods. The idea of needing a therapist, much less going to one, can induce a lot of anxiety.
But….. therapy has a lot to offer. Just like we go to the doctor to take care of our physical health, going to see a therapist can help you care for your mental health so you’re the best possible version of yourself. And THAT part is probably something a lot of men can identify with—being the best they can.
If you want to read more on this topic, you can look at our blog about “myths men believe about therapy.”
In the meantime, we want to address the REALITY of men + therapy.
So, without further ado, here are 5 Things Men Don’t Realize They’ll Love About Therapy
1. The Individual Attention
Therapy is about you and your challenges (“I cannot get out of this burnout funk”….questions (“is this normal?)…topics of conversation (“I don’t even know where I want to go with my life anymore”)...and so much more.
The things you work on with your therapist might impact other parts of your life, but you are the focus of the sessions. It can be uncomfortable (especially before you start–or during that first session!), having that kind of undivided attention, but it can also be healing. It becomes easy to feel safe in that kind of space, especially because this person you’ve come to like and trust is giving you their full focus.
Also, to be totally honest: you will settle into it pretty quickly. It actually can feel kinda cool. I dare might even say you’ll start to look forward to that time and focus with your therapist. (This confidence is brought to you by feedback from male clients that have echoed those sentiments. ;) )
2. You Can Say Anything
Therapy is a safe place.
If you need to:
-vent, even about people you love, you can do that.
-confess something personal that you’re too embarrassed to tell people in your life, that’s okay.
-repeat a story over and over without worrying if someone is “sick of listening to you”, it’s perfect for that.
-talk about the heavy stuff so you don’t feel like you’re “burdening” friends and family (though, we’ll address that misconception), that’s truly what we’re here for.
Therapists practice something called “unconditional positive regard”. This is the fancy way of saying that they are there to listen to what you’re going through without any judgment. Instead, they’re completely focused on supporting and helping you.
It’s also completely confidential. No one, outside of very, very specific circumstances, gets to hear what you’ve said to your therapist. So you can discuss whatever you need to and be certain it won’t ever leave that room.
3. You Don’t Have To Be A Problem Solver
When you spend so much of your life supporting others, therapy is a great place for you to get some much-needed support for yourself.
You can see someone without worrying about pleasing or fixing them. This is especially useful if you have that “problem solver” personality, which is common for a lot of men. At work and home you might feel like you’re the one who always must find solutions to crisis after crisis. You might feel like your own needs get short-end of the stick, or maybe not considered at all!
But therapy is different. Your needs, your perspective, and so much of YOU is front-and-center to the process. That unburdening referenced earlier in this blog can really come into play as you realize you have a partnership with your therapist. That they are there doing heavy lifting with you. Sure, you may be the one identifying the goals and filling in the details of the challenges and issues, but you have a reliable professional doing a lot of work with you. And you have access to their brainstorming; toolkits; skills; etc.
You can learn to approach your needs with curiosity, and you will learn about yourself in the process without a hard-and-fast endgame.
4. You Can Learn To Communicate In Healthy Ways
It’s an unfortunate fact that so many men aren’t taught how to communicate well. This isn’t always the case, but many men are taught to speak with their actions, not how to be open and vulnerable. Just like therapy, this kind of thinking is often considered weak.
In therapy, you will learn that this isn’t weak, and you will start building new communication skills. And they aren’t all “hippy dippy” or “woo woo” suggestions or skills (again, confidence in this statement is courtesy of feedback from male clients we’ve had in our offices, who have said “hm, this is actually some stuff I’ll probably use. Not that woo-woo stuff I was nervous about hearing before I started.”)
These new skills will help you connect better with the people in your life that you care about. It will also help you get your needs met by others because you’ll have a better idea of how to ask for what you need. And as both of those things start to happen, oooo boy, will things start thriving! (It’s so cool. Truly.)
Communication is just like any other physical or mental skill. It requires dedication and practice. It takes some trial and error. It takes pushing through some discomfort. But therapy is the best place to train to be a better communicator. Why? Because you have an accountability partner; that safety we’ve talked about; someone to practice with and get feedback from.
All of it becomes so worthwhile as you experience improvement in the quality of your relationships with your partner, kids, or your friends.
5. There's Room In Therapy To Make Mistakes
I love this one! It’s a great point and even kind of a big deal as you really read it again and let it sink in.
Men who are focused on that next promotion; being a provider for their family; taking responsibility for aging parents; transitioning into fatherhood; coping with a recent loss; etc…..it can be a lot! You can feel like you must get it right or it all falls apart. You can feel like everyone is looking to you for the “right” decision all of the time. It’s a lot to carry all the time!
Enter: therapy. It provides an opportunity to venture outside of your comfort zone in therapy. It’s sort of a simulator to real life, in that you can test out skills and strategies that you’re learning. If those skills work in the therapist’s office, you can then try them in the rest of your life. But if you try something and it goes terribly, you’re in a controlled environment. You won’t have as much of a ripple effect into the rest of your life if you make a mistake.
And if you do make a mistake in your daily life, your therapist will be there to help you manage the aftermath. Being in therapy doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, or that those mistakes won’t have consequences, but it does create a safer buffer zone. This lets you step out to try new things without worrying about causing irreversible damage. And being able to do this means you’ll even grow beyond what you’re hoping for. You’ll be able to actually reach new heights, even beyond those in your mind’s eye, exactly because of the counseling space and therapeutic relationship.