Counseling is an excellent tool for mental and emotional support for anyone experiencing difficulties in their lives. However, there is a noticeable gap between the number of women who attend counseling and the number of men who attend. According to studies, only 1 in 4 men will seek counseling, while women are almost twice as likely to attend therapy. In this blog post, we explore some of the reasons why men don’t go to counseling.
Stigma and Societal Pressure
One of the biggest reasons why men don’t go to counseling is the societal pressure to be strong and not to show vulnerability. Men are often taught from a young age to be strong, independent, and self-reliant. Seeking counseling can be seen as a sign of weakness or failure, which can be stigmatizing for some men. Men may feel that seeking help is not “manly” and that it may harm their masculinity or sense of identity.
Fear of Being Judged
Another reason why men don’t go to counseling is the fear of being judged. Men may be concerned that if they seek counseling, their therapist will judge them, or that others will view them as weak or less competent. This fear of judgment can be particularly strong for men who work in high-stress or male-dominated environments, where the expectation is to be competitive and always in control.
Lack of Awareness
Another significant factor contributing to men’s reluctance to attend counseling is the lack of awareness or understanding of mental health issues. Men may not recognize that they are experiencing emotional or mental distress, or they may not be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Men may be more likely to dismiss their symptoms as simply being “stressed” or “overworked,” which can prevent them from seeking the help they need.
Negative Past Experiences
Negative past experiences with counseling or therapy can also contribute to men’s reluctance to attend. If a man has had a bad experience with counseling in the past, he may be less likely to seek help in the future. Men may have experienced a lack of understanding or empathy from their therapist, or they may have felt judged or stigmatized during their counseling sessions. Such negative experiences can deter men from seeking counseling in the future.
Lack of Access
Lack of access to counseling services can also be a significant factor that prevents men from attending. Counseling services can be expensive, and insurance coverage can vary widely. Men who live in rural or remote areas may not have easy access to counseling services, and transportation or distance can be a barrier. Furthermore, men who work long hours or have busy schedules may find it challenging to find the time to attend counseling appointments.
What is to be done?
For men seeking counseling, there are a couple of practical tips — see if a friend will literally, physically go with you through the process. Maybe wait in the car while you’re in the therapist’s office, wait in the waiting room, or meet up afterwards. If that’s not an option for you, find a counselor who “get it.” A good clinician can show up gentle, curious, compassionate in those moments when it is difficult to name, sit with the weakness, sadness, trauma. If a man, socialized to dismiss or avoid difficult emotions, can sit with a clinician who is comfortable and open with those emotions, some healing connections and safety can start to transform one’s relationship with those uncomfortable emotions. Progress Counseling has counselors with the lived experience and training to meet with men who are struggling with anger, sadness, the residual effects of trauma, and who understand the barriers that get in the way of sitting with those feelings.
Please reach out. We have a team of counselors who are passionate about helping people start their healing process. We want to make it easy and painless to get started.