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What are "Men's Issues"? Working with men in therapy

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

First Step Men's Therapy helps men across Ontario, Canada develop healthier relationships with themselves and others. We offer individual, couples, and group counselling to men and their families online using our secure telehealth platform.

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At it's core, men's issues center on what it means to be a man in today's society

A few months ago, I had a consultation with an individual who asked me a very thought provoking, yet simplistic question. At the end of our consultation, I asked him if he had any questions and he stated he did. His question was, "you say you specialize in men's issues, but what exactly are men's issues?". I reflected on the question, particularly as it men's issues can often be thrown around in therapy with little definition or explanation. Additionally, the question also leads to an additional question of, how might they differ from issues that women might face. While the issues described below may be experienced by women, they impact men differently.

Many men feel they need to act, feel, or behave a certain way in society

In many respects, men's issues often arise based not on gender but societal expectations of gender. Men as a group often are taught, either overtly or covertly, to hide emotions, or to express them in ways that are different from women. While society is changing and has evolved over the years, men often feel embarrassed, ashamed, stigmatized, or invalidated when showing emotions, especially emotions that may indicate anger, sadness, disappointment, or fear. Additionally, men are often taught to put on a brave face, be the hero, and not show weakness, which is often interpreted or believed to mean do not express any emotion apart from joy or happiness.

What are some common men's issues we see in therapy?

Some common examples of men's issues include:

  • difficulty identifying or expressing emotions, particularly emotions such as anger or sadness

  • unhealthy or unrealistic body image concerns, leading to eating disorders and inadequacy

  • addiction to sex and/or porn as a way to feel special, validated, powerful, or loved

  • substance addictions used to mask pain and cope with stress and trauma

  • isolation (either physical or emotional) as a way to distance oneself from others

  • difficulty being a father and modelling healthy parenting to children

  • overt displays of anger and aggression

  • a desire for high risk activities as a way to feel alive

  • toxic masculinity or emasculation

  • erectile dysfunction and sexual performance anxiety (which may be porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), anxiety around fear of not being deemed good enough in sex, or low testosterone or other biological factors

  • increased suicidal ideation or risk that stems from hopelessness or a sense of despair

Men often wait too long for therapy....and to ask for help

Often, men seek help when life has become unmanageable, intolerable, or when the consequences have reached a turning point. Often in our initial sessions, much of the work we do is to normalize, validate, and affirm that seeking therapy can be hard, lead to resistance, and evoke discomfort or overwhelm. Creating a space that allows men to feel heard, understood, and supported while allowing them to express themselves fully, without judgment, is a cornerstone to the work that we do within our therapeutic setting. Goal-setting is often important, as many men find that a definitive or definable goal or outcome can help to set intention and direction within the course of therapy. Many men also struggle with intimacy, often confusing sex with intimacy, and therapy can be a space to model for men the central tenets of intimacy: openness, honesty, vulnerability, negotiation, and expression.

How can First Step Men's Therapy help?

First Step Men's Therapy is a 100% virtual men's mental health space in Ontario, Canada. We work with men on a wide range of mental health issues, including sex addiction, porn addiction, erectile dysfunction, sexual performance anxiety, grief, anger, anxiety, depression, trauma & PTSD, shame and low self-worth, and of course, men's issues. If you live in Ontario, Canada and want to seek help today, book a complimentary consultation with us today.

Want to know more about men's issues and healthy masculinity? Click here: Men's Issues

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