Why Work with a Man in the Face of the Patriarchy We All Want to Smash?
The journey into the profession of therapy and wellness has delivered an important conversation concerning humans who, like me, identify as male. Juxtaposing our presence and stranglehold of most industries in society, male therapists represent a small percentage in connection with all other gender identities represented in this role.
This reality is far from a surprising revelation. Looking around, men have largely been responsible for the meta themes in society, as well as acute trauma, that directs people to a need or desire for therapy and emotional healing. Men have perpetuated child abuse, have been largely absent from rearing their children, and used physical violence. Further, we have been taught to ignore our emotionality, speaking little to our feelings when they venture away from the hero archetype.
Thankfully, there is a shift growing. A sub-culture, slowly becoming mainstream, is at play here. Men are providing more regular counsel, individual and group. Men are beginning to ask questions to other men about feelings and challenging each other when misogynistic and dark triad behaviors are witnessed. With the help of social media and podcasts, men can resource the few male elders with integrity that inspire us to connect to the whole of our masculine/feminine experience. Like Lao Tzu states in the Tao de Ching, we are learning to lean into the philosophy of the “soft and strong”.
These nuanced shifts lead us to make repairs with our fathers where possible, take time to understand more of the female experience, nurture platonic intimacy with other men, and lean into a lifestyle where we give instead of just take. Crucially, this change in male collaboration is generating an energy of safety and motivation for vulnerability in women, children, and other men. I fully recognize that if you live in a body that is not male, these changes could never occur fast enough.
The more we can tap into the themes mentioned above in therapy rooms the more systemic our harmony as humans can spread. Specifically, boys need exemplary, healthy, and embodied male figureheads that will guide them through pivotal rites of passage, namely puberty and early adulthood. It is further paramount that all males believe in and learn the paramount need to express feelings and emotions. The emotionally intelligent male therapist can teach them a new language to grow in this aspect of their humanity. For a woman, or other non-male identifying intimate partner to a male, seeing a male therapist may help them acquire empathy and regulation from someone who experiences the world similarly and has no vested interest in either individual. It further came to my attention that replacing traumatic experiences perpetuated by men with new and healthy ones may lead to reduced fear and anxiety surrounding a male’s presence in their life; modeling and verifying men can provide healthy boundaries. With each of these, we can give our clients a new canvas where the men they paint portray guidance, honor, integrity, saftey, and love.