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Counselling for men?
My wife, Linda, and I were discussing the fact that women were much more ready to come for counselling than men.She suggested that I write an article on our web page directed particularly towards men. This I found an interesting idea, and have found it to be a real challenge because I am not really a writer.
So, if I were looking at a web page about counselling, what might be going through my mind? I think I might be wondering if considering counselling is a “manly” thing to do. I may be wondering if it can help me with such modern topics as increased stress, the larger debt I may be living with - borrowing more than I can repay or how to be a good parent and yet work enough to support them. Is counselling admitting that I am weak?
Based on my own experience, and those of a large percentage of the men that do come for counselling, a relationship problem is often the catalyst that eventually drives a man to even consider counselling. It seems to me that a deterioration of a relationship can be a main indication that something is wrong. When a wife, girlfriend or close friend start to become our enemy and then insist that “you sort yourself out or it’s over”, we may then finally look for help. The question then is what sort of help?
Several years ago Linda and I went through a difficulty in our marriage. Things got so bad that we finally separated. As church going Christians, we tried to get help and reconciliation through our church. However, although the church leader was a good man, he only exacerbated the situation. Eventually, on Linda’s insistence, he recommended a counselling service for her to go to. She did not insist that I go; only that she would go herself. I said “good luck to you!”
I remember saying to Linda and the pastor that I had no intention of getting my head sorted out by someone else. I remember having a very negative view of counselling – I later discovered that this was out of ignorance rather than any experience that I had in the past.
After a couple of weeks or so, I saw that counselling was helping Linda somehow and so I thought I would have a go.
Even when I arrived I was really surprised that it was totally different from what I expected. I had single sessions with my counsellor, who was the husband of the counsellor that Linda was seeing. After a few months we moved to joint sessions and ended counselling after a year. I was very happy that the counselling had ended, but did miss it for a while.
Actually, it was through receiving counselling and realising that it had not only changed our marriage but changed me as well that led us both to train as counsellors ourselves. Many years of training and experience now finds me trying to give out what I received when I really needed it.
I think the challenge that I am now contemplating is, what I say to those men who know they need help, but are not convinced that counselling is the way forward for them. I could say that counselling is not advice giving, it is not like going to a doctor who can give a diagnosis to whatever ails us. So if that is not counselling is, then what it is?
I suppose there are many forms of counselling and these days most recognise that the relationship between the counsellor and the client is very important for the client to be able to think and talk out their issues they feel they have in life. How many men are you able to have a relationship with that is confidential, safe, honest and real? I suppose that is at the heart of what counselling is all about. Providing that relationship at a time when we really need it.