Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bedi & Richards - What Men Want From Psychotherapy

GoodTherapy.org posted this brief research review of a new study that looks at what men want and seek from psychotherapy. The study found that the most important qualities in creating the therapeutic alliance with male clients are "Formal Respect, Client Responsibility, Practical Help, and Bringing out the Issues."

These are all very external qualities, about the relationship and solution-oriented approaches and not about healing original wounding as is part of the psychodynamic approach. Yet this is not my experience of all the men I work with - some are certainly in line with this, but others are willing and wanting to do the deeper work.

What Men Want From Psychotherapy

September 30th, 2011 

A News Headline:

Men are much less likely to seek clinical help for their psychological issues than women. Because they hold to traditional male gender roles, most men do not respond to psychotherapy delivered in a generic approach, most often welcomed and received positively by women. “Practitioners who are accustomed to working in androgynous environments may fail to fully grasp the foreign nature of psychotherapy to men who hold “traditional” North American masculine gender role beliefs,” said Robinder P. Bedi and Mica Richards of Western Washington University, authors of a new study exploring what approaches provide the best outcome for men in psychotherapy. “Understanding the perspective of men and further appreciating the impact of gender role socialization on alliance formation will enable psychotherapists to provide improved mental health services to men, a group that appears to be less well served than women by conventional psychotherapy practices.”

The researchers evaluated 37 male clients who were entering therapy for stress, anxiety, substance use, trauma and depression. They found the factors that were most important for the development of a healthy client-therapist alliance for the men were Formal Respect, Client Responsibility, Practical Help and Bringing out the Issues. “Bringing out the Issues (labeled using the language of the men in the study) emerged as a key category in understanding the perspective of men on the therapeutic alliance,” said the researchers. “It was the largest category, found to be statistically significantly more helpful and understood than all other categories except Client Responsibility and Formal Respect.” The team emphasized that clinicians who wish to achieve a positive outcome with their male clients should understand this fundamental difference between men and women in treatment. They added, “In developing a therapeutic alliance with a typical man, it seems important to balance conventional relationship-building techniques, such as empathy, paraphrases, normalization, and validation, with asking questions and providing suggestions.”
Bedi, R. P., & Richards, M. (2011, May 23). What a Man Wants: The Male Perspective on Therapeutic Alliance Formation. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0022424

What a man wants: The male perspective on therapeutic alliance formation.
Although the link between client ratings of therapeutic alliance quality and psychotherapy outcome has been well established by previous research, there is still much to be done to clarify what variables are important to clients, particularly men, in the formation of an alliance. Thirty-seven male clients currently undergoing psychotherapy categorized 74 critical incidents for alliance formation in an open-ended manner on the basis of self-perceived relatedness. Multivariate concept-mapping statistical techniques were used to identify the typical way in which the participants conceptualized variables that are important to alliance formation. Nine categories of variables were identified (Bringing out the Issues, Nonverbal Psychotherapist Actions, Emotional Support, Formal Respect, Practical Help, Office Environment, Information, Client Responsibility, and Choice of Professional). Bringing out the Issues emerged as the highest rated and most consistently understood category across the men in this study. The results of this study add to a small but growing body of research on the client's perspective of alliance formation and provide an initial conceptual model of how men understand the variables of common alliance formation. The developed model also provides several hypotheses, which are presented for verification in future research and clinical practice.

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