Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aaron Anderson - Five Signs a Man Needs to See a Counselor

From the Good Men Project, Aaron Anderson offers five signs that we might need to seek out therapy. I agree for the most part - and none of the reasons given here are indicative of serious psychological symptoms (like suicidality, audio hallucinations, panic attacks, or dissociation).

When I began therapy, it was because I was unhappy with my life, my relationships, and my future. Therapy helped me know who I am, understand how I had come to that point in my life, and how to change the things I was not happy with in my life.

Counseling can save your life, but it can also help you find the life you have always wanted to live.

Five Signs a Man Needs to See a Counselor

September 22, 2013
by Aaron Anderson

Men aren’t supposed to go to counseling, they’re supposed to be tougher than that, right?

For a lot of men, the thought of going to a counselor for therapy is silly. It’s just not part of the man code to go and see a counselor. Seeing a counselor means talking about feelings and your childhood and there’s always the potential of the counselor telling you that your problems are occurring because you’re still in love with your mother. It’s no wonder then, why a lot of men don’t seek out counseling. And then there’s always the question of ‘do I need therapy anyway’? Everyone goes through rough spots. But how do you know when you need therapy? Let’s take a look.

Five signs a man needs to see a counselor.

1) The ‘rough patch’ stays rough for a while. Everybody goes through rough patches now and again. Whether it’s a rough time at work, a rough time in your marriage or a rough patch in life. But if these rough patches stay rough for a while you probably ought to see a counselor. You could wait it out, but what’s the point? Seeing a counselor sooner than later ensures that you get back on track sooner and start enjoying life sooner, too.

2) Your wife/mother/significant other suggests counseling. As a counselor who specializes in marriage counseling, I dread phone calls from men. I dread them because they usually go something like this: Me: Hello? Him: Hi, I need to set up an appointment for my wife and I to come to counseling. She’s been threatening to divorce me for three years and she finally left this morning. Do you have any appointments later today? Me: I have an appointment for later this week if that will help. Him: Okay. Great. Let me call my wife and see if she’ll come.

They normally don’t call back. The ones who do call back are just being courteous to tell me that their wife has gone to the courthouse for the divorce papers and won’t be needing my services after all. Men, do yourselves a favor and go to counseling the FIRST time your wife/mother/significant other suggests it.

3) You want more out of life. In his book Real Boys by William Pollack, PhD, Dr. Pollack talks about the ‘boy code’ that we hear as young men. As young men we often hear to sit down, shut up, and don’t complain. We’re also told to suck it up, don’t cry and move on. So as grown men we often feel like we can’t want more out of life because we just have to suck it up and accept our life as it is. But counseling is a great way to get exactly what you want out of life and get the tools you need to get there. You may have to talk about your feelings but you shed those unwanted burdens that are keeping you down. And you get exactly what you want out of your life in the mean time, too.

4) You’re easily irritated. Men display mental health difficulties differently than women do. Women internalize their difficulties by feeling sad, quiet and guilty. Men are much more external in their displays of mental difficulty. This means they get irritated at others more, become more aggressive and even become physical at times. If this isn’t how you normally react to stress and you’re reacting this way more and more it’s time to see a counselor. If you do normally react this way to stress, you still need to see a counselor.

5) You just want to be left alone for extended periods of time. Everybody goes through spells where they just want to be left alone for a few hours, night a day or a weekend. But if you find yourself day after day just wanting to be left alone by your wife, kids and colleagues at work it’s time to see a counselor. Being left alone is a temporary solution. Sometimes being left alone temporarily is all you need to get your mind back in the game and get a fresh perspective on how to fix things. But if you find yourself wanting to be left alone day after day after day, that’s a big red flag that something more serious is going on.

Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma about seeing a counselor. And for some reason, many men wait until the last minute or just don’t go at all. But a real man does whatever a man has to do in order to be a man; including going to counseling.

About Aaron Anderson
Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He also writes for several publications online and in print all on the topic of marriages, families and men. In his spare time (whatever that is) he is secretly preparing to be the next great chef. You can find him on Twitter @MarriageDr and on Facebook giving great info without the psychobabble.


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Angel M. Gonzales said...

This is a great source of tips and insights on why men should see a therapist. We always heard about women seeing a therapist but we rarely heard men see a therapist. We all go through different hardships in life and whether it is a man or a woman, there are just some things in life that we can't handle by ourselves and sometimes, even talking to a friend or a family member won't help. This is where we seek out the help of others like a therapist. No matter who we go to, the most important thing is, being able to rise above all those difficulties.