I enjoy working with a wide variety of men in my counseling work. In fact, approximately two-thirds of my clients have been men — a somewhat rare phenomenon in the world of psychotherapy!
Over the years, I've learned that every man is unique. Each of my clients has had very differnet personality traits, gifts, goals, and challenges.
However, I have encountered a few common questions from some of my male clients. I've listed these below, in case you (or someone you know) has similar concerns about therapy.
Q: I'm not interested in paying someone to listen to me talk. I have friends who can do that. Do you just sit there and listen?
A: Certainly not. I try to be an attentive listener — but my real focus as a cognitive-behavioral therapist is to work with you actively to make positive changes in your life.
Cognitive therapy is very different from more traditional forms of talk therapy. In cognitive therapy, we work together as a team to change old patterns and develop new directions. I'll listen, of course — but I'll also strategize with you, present ideas and techniques, role-play new skills, and support you in taking new action steps in your life.
Many of my clients have commented about how different cognitive therapy is from other types of therapy they've been exposed to. The therapy that I do is active, focused, and change-oriented. The emphasis is on practical results.
Q: I'm interested in learning new tools to deal with issues in my life. Do you focus on that?
A: Yes. In fact, the central focus of cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT) is to help clients develop tools and strategies that they can use for the rest of their lives. We CBT therapists say that we want to help our clients "become their own therapists." That's our goal.
If I temporarily helped my clients to feel better — but didn't help them develop tools that they could use in the future — I wouldn't really be serving them best. The goal of cognitive therapy isn't a temporary feeling-improvement, but a lasting change in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Q: I'm not sure about therapy. Can I just come to a couple of sessions and see if it helps?
A: Sure. There's no pressure to commit to anything long-term. In fact, CBT is designed to be used on an "as needed" basis. I often encourage my clients to try three sessions or so, and see if they are experiencing some movement toward their goals. If cognitive therapy isn't a fit, I am happy to refer my clients to other types of therapists.
Of course, when we're working on changing life patterns, three sessions might not make a huge impact. However, I always hope that within a matter of weeks, my clients will begin to experience a degree of change in their life — especially if they use the tools that we develop in their daily lives.
Q: My partner/parent wants me to go to therapy to change some things. However, I don't know if I really need it. Is it worth coming just to make her/him happy?
A: Good question. If there is truly nothing in your life that you would like to change, then it probably isn't worth trying therapy. However, I find that almost everyone has something in their life that they would like to improve — communication skills, effectiveness at work, stress management, mood-improvement, even just developing healthier living habits. Cognitive therapy is designed to support these changes.
I sometimes use a "magic wand" question at the beginning of therapy. I ask my clients, "If you could wave a magic wand and change a few things in your life, what would they be?" If there is a way for cognitive therapy to support those changes, we can get right to work.