Asking for Help
Men seek help less. It’s true. But- this is changing. The stigma is diminishing and men are coming to counseling more than ever before. Why is this? Do they see the benefit? Are they hearing about it from other men? Is their spouse asking them to come?
It’s not like its inherent or biologically determined that men seek help less. It’s learned. Men learn that they should be able to do it on their own. They learn to be tough, stoic and strong. So what does it mean if they ask for help? Are they not tough, stoic or strong? No. That’s not what that means. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
Seeking guidance from a therapist is a courageous step for a man to take. It’s admitting that they are struggling with something that feels beyond their control. Admitting this is the first step in what could potentially be, very powerful change.
How does therapy help?
When men share shameful, embarrassing, or unpleasant thoughts with a nonjudgmental, empathic therapist, they can feel relieved, normal and sane. They may realize, for the first time, that what they are thinking and feeling is actually very normal for many men. This alone can empower men to share emotions that may have bottled up for months, even years. When men start to release the weight of negative thoughts and feelings, they can begin to see what’s been happening inside for all this time. They are better able to see patterns, self-talk and resentments that are no longer serving them.
How do men thrive?
Through therapeutic work, men can learn to look inward, self-reflect and gain new awareness of their thoughts and feelings. When you can take a step back, observe yourself and get objective perspectives, you can facilitate change in your life.
When men learn that gaining emotional control directly contributes to regaining control in their personal and professional lives, change happens. Learning to regulate one’s emotions can contribute to success in all areas of a man’s life.
A man comes in to therapy with an anger problem. His problem with anger is causing marital distress, irritability, depression and conflict at work. He is drinking more and the drinking almost always contributes to anger outbursts. He lists the many reasons why he is so angry and shares that “if that person” or “that situation” were to change or be different, he would be “okay”. Throughout the course of therapy he begins to learn that he has little to no control over people, places and things. He learns that anger is a secondary emotion and that there is something happening deep below the surface. He discovers that he feels inadequate, scared and hopeless. His career is unfulfilling and he feels he is letting his family down. He’s struggled with depression for many years and has drank to avoid the feelings that come along with this. Soon, over the course of counseling, he discovers that he can actually manage his emotions. He can learn healthy coping skills and begin to notice triggers and thought patterns that contributed to his struggle with anger. He develops new insight around his behaviors and makes conscious decisions to change them. He sees small improvement, reinforcing the new behaviors and begins to live a more fulfilling, valued life. This is just one example how transformative therapeutic work can be.
How do you know if it’s time for some counseling?
Listen to your gut. Does something feel off? Maybe you’re tired of dealing with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Maybe someone suggested it. There is no harm in checking it out and seeing if counseling could be beneficial for you. Life does not have to be completely out of whack for one to get some guidance, feedback and support. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it!
Lindsay Melka, LPC
If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.