Men’s Issues & Healthy Masculinity Therapy in Ottawa & Across Ontario
Are these messages you have heard or felt as a boy or man?
✔️ "Stop crying and be a man"
✔️ "Men don't cry - suck it up"
✔️ "Men need to make all the decisions"
✔️ "Crying is for weak men"
✔️ "A man going to therapy? He obviously can't control his emotions like a real man"
Perhaps you have heard or experienced something similar to these common statements.
Masculinity Issues in Men
You may have heard them growing up or as an adult. They may have come from dad, mom, siblings, or friends. Often men avoid therapy until the problems get to be too much or they face debilitating thoughts, feelings, or behaviours.
→ Difficulty recognizing, identifying, and expressing emotions
→ Suicidal ideation and increased risk for suicide
→ Unhealthy anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
→ Legal issues (Divorce/Intimate Partner Violence/Arrest)
→ Isolation or superficial friendships
→ Difficulty parenting or showing up for family
→ Eating Disorders
→ Depression/Low Mood
→ A need for high-risk activities to feel "alive"
→ Stigma for seeking help (therapy)
Some common by-products of men's issues or toxic masculinity may include:
Why do Mean Feel Shame and Fear in Seeking Help or Therapy?
For many men, there may be a tremendous amount of fear or shame in seeking help or reaching out to a therapist.
Many men book a consultation not knowing what to say or ask. For others, stepping into therapy provides an outlet that has never been available and one may feel relieved to open up and discuss their struggles with an inviting therapeutic ear.
The goal of the therapist within the first few sessions is to understand the client's story, build rapport and trust, and create a safe space to explore and discuss the challenges the client is facing in their world.
Men have unique challenges and struggles in today's society, and often face societal pressures and expectations that can be difficult to navigate. As a result, therapy for men has become increasingly important in addressing men's mental health issues and helping men lead fulfilling lives.
Men Seek Therapy for a Variety of Issues and Challenges
Depression and Anxiety
Men are just as likely as women to experience depression and anxiety, but are often less likely to seek help. Many men may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit they are struggling with their mental health, and may fear being seen as weak or vulnerable.
Men may struggle with communication, intimacy, and vulnerability in their relationships. They may feel pressure to be the "protector" or "provider" in the relationship, which can make it difficult for them to express their emotions or ask for help when they need it.
Work and Career Stress
Men may feel pressure to succeed and provide for their families, which can lead to stress and burnout. They may also struggle with work-life balance and finding meaning and purpose in their careers.
Anger and Aggression
Men may struggle with anger and aggression, which can have negative consequences on their relationships and overall well-being. They may feel pressure to suppress their emotions, which can lead to explosive outbursts or passive-aggressive behaviour.
Poor Coping Skills
Men are more likely than women to struggle with substance use, and may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression.
Therapy Approaches for Men's Issues
Available in-person in Ottawa and online across Ontario
Therapy can be a valuable tool in helping men address these and other issues, and develop the skills and strategies needed to overcome them. Some approaches to therapy that may be particularly helpful for men include:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. This can be particularly helpful for men who struggle with depression, anxiety, or anger.
Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Mindfulness-based therapy can help men become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, and develop healthier coping strategies. It can also be helpful in improving relationships and communication skills.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of therapy that focuses on developing skills in emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. This can be particularly helpful for men who struggle with intense emotions or relationships.
Group Therapy: Group therapy can be an effective way for men to connect with others who may be facing similar issues. It can also provide a safe and supportive environment for men to practice new skills and strategies.
Trauma-Focused Therapy: Men who have experienced trauma may benefit from trauma-focused therapy, which can help them process and heal from their experiences. This can be particularly helpful for men who have experienced military combat, sexual abuse, or other types of trauma.
It's important to note that therapy for men is not one-size-fits-all, and each man's experience and needs may be unique. It's also important to acknowledge that not all men may feel comfortable seeking therapy or talking about their emotions and struggles. However, therapy can be a valuable tool in helping men address their mental health issues and develop the skills and strategies needed to lead fulfilling lives.
If you’re dealing with men’s issues, it's important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable with and who understands your unique needs and experiences.
Healthy Masculinity Strategies for Men
In addition to the therapy approaches above, there are also some specific strategies that therapists may use when working with men. These include:
Encouraging Physical Activity - Exercise can be a powerful tool in improving mental health, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being. Many men may find it helpful to incorporate physical activity into their therapy sessions, or to participate in sports or other physical activities outside of therapy.
Focusing on Goal-Setting - Men may be more likely to engage in therapy if they feel that they have a clear goal or objective in mind. Therapists may work with men to identify specific goals, such as improving communication with their partner or reducing symptoms of depression.
Emphasizing Self-Compassion - Men may feel pressure to be "strong" and "in control" at all times, which can make it difficult for them to show themselves compassion and self-care. Therapists may encourage men to practice self-compassion and to be gentle with themselves when they are struggling.
Addressing Masculinity and Gender Roles - Men may face pressure to conform to traditional masculine roles and stereotypes, which can impact their mental health and relationships. Therapists may work with men to challenge these gender roles and explore alternative ways of expressing masculinity.
Providing Education and Information - Men may benefit from education and information about mental health issues, as well as coping strategies and resources that can help them manage their symptoms. Therapists may provide psychoeducation and connect men with support groups, workshops, or other resources in the community.
Other Strategies for Men to Improve their Mental Health
In addition to therapy, there are also other resources and strategies that men may find helpful in managing their mental health, such as mindfulness, social support, healthy lifestyle habits, creative outlets, and self-care.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help men become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, and develop healthier coping strategies.
What does healthy masculinity look like?
Some possible goals within therapy might include:
Asking for help when needed (especially with other men)
Feeling comfortable in emotionally nurturing roles
Challenging other men in a constructive, healthy way
Developing better relational/intimacy skills (active listening, communication, empathy, consent, and non-judgement)
Reaching out to other men who might be hurting
Help is available - we’re accepting clients in Ottawa and across Ontario
First Step Men's Therapy aims to be a safe, warm, and inviting space for men to open up about their struggles, learn about their stories, and develop healthier techniques and tools to practice healthy masculinity, connection, emotional regulation, and self-esteem.
Take a Look at our Healthy Masculinity Blog Posts...
Struggling with More than Men's Issues?
Our team of specialized therapists based in Ontario are also experts in: