5 resources for men who want to learn about therapy (without being judged) | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: June 23, 2024

Despite evidence indicating that men face mental health issues at equal or higher rates than women, men are less likely to seek counseling. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], nearly twice as many women as men (24.7 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively) received mental health treatment in the past year,” says clinical psychologist Seth Gillihan, Ph.D., author of Mindful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Simple Path to Healing, Hope, and Peace.

Dr. Gillihan adds that notions of “being a man” and the perception that therapy is a show of weakness may contribute to men’s reluctance to go. If desired, finding a male therapist is tough since most are female. In fact, Dr. Gillihan claims that barely one-third of psychologists are men. “The numbers are even more pronounced for licensed clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists, where only about 22 percent are men,” which presents yet another obstacle to mental health care.

So, in general, it can be difficult to find a qualified therapist, especially for men who confront additional obstacles. The good news? Men can learn more about therapy (without being judged) and get the help they need from many mental health resources. Read on for Dr. Gillihan’s top five mental health resources for men.

Online educational sites

Dr. Gillihan recommends online tools that educate men about mental health disorders like anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He suggests the National Institute of Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. These online resources are rich in information about mental health concerns, warning signs, symptoms, and treatment options.

Referrals

Dr. Gillihan suggests seeking a referral from your primary care physician or a trusted friend. Your health insurance may also assist you in locating a therapist in your network. He goes on to say that attending an out-of-network therapist will almost certainly cost extra money out of pocket. 

When requesting referrals, specify what qualities you need in a therapist, such as a preference for working with a male or female practitioner. To further narrow your search, ask for recommendations from therapists who have worked with men and understand the stigmas and problems they encounter regarding mental health.

Provider databases

Finding a mental health practitioner can also be aided by the good ol’ internet. Dr. Gillihan recommends searching for therapists in your area using a mental health search engine like Psychology Today, which allows you to filter searches for female, male, or non-binary therapists. You can also look for nearby psychiatrists, treatment facilities, and support groups. Dr. Gillihan also recommends the Good Therapy database. 

The American Psychological Association and TherapyforBlackMen.org are two further resources. The advantage of looking for a therapist online is that you can locate ones who offer teletherapy sessions, allowing you to cast a larger net and check for providers outside of your immediate area.

Local colleges and universities

Another excellent resource for men’s mental health? Colleges and universities in the area. “If you live near a college or university with a mental health professional training program, they might offer low-fee counseling with their trainees,” Dr. Gillihan explains. “Your therapist-in-training would be closely supervised by a licensed provider.” And, as a side note, Dr. Gillihan says that if money is a problem, it’s always a good idea to ask if you need to. Some therapists offer lower fees for people with big financial needs.

Self-guided cognitive behavioral therapy

Dr. Gillihan says that a do-it-yourself approach can be helpful for men who aren’t ready to start therapy but want to try it out first. He suggests cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that you can do on your own for common mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

He recommends that individuals try it out by reading CBT self-help books. The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies has a list of books that can help you help yourself. Self-help books can be beneficial for people who have mild to moderate symptoms, but Dr. Gillihan stresses that men with more serious mental health problems should get help from a professional.

Once you find a therapist

Finding a therapist with whom you can connect is critical as you navigate the process of obtaining mental health care. “The quality of your relationship with your therapist can have a big impact on the treatment,” says Dr. Gillihan. “Take the first few sessions to get a feel for your therapist, and don’t hesitate to let them know when something isn’t working for you. Good therapists want your feedback so they can be as helpful to you as possible.”

He advocates for seeking a new therapist if, for whatever reason, the current one doesn’t feel like the appropriate fit.

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