Today’s Solutions: June 12, 2024

When it comes to entering the world of therapy, guys are frequently lost, unsure of where to begin. They may have the desire to become persons who openly disclose their deepest ideas and begin investigating the complexities of human behavior, but they lack the tools and guidance to take the first steps in this journey. 

Men face their own emotional challenges, whether they want to analyze their reliance on sleep podcasts or their use of passive-aggressive language in workplace communications. When the subject of therapy comes up, however, they are hesitant, leaving them unsure of their next step. Questions such as “Do I really need therapy?” or “How do I even find the right therapist?” may arise in their minds, along with a sense of anxiety.

A 2019 study involving over 800 men dealing with mental health issues discovered common roadblocks impeding their pursuit of therapy. An astounding eighty percent of these guys stated that feeling sad or down was a common experience, and 73 percent showed a desire to remedy their own difficulties. Furthermore, their uncertainty was exacerbated by a lack of awareness about what to look for in a therapist.

These findings shed light on the unique barriers that men encounter when considering therapy and emphasize the critical need for change. Matthew Braman, LCSW, a therapist in Baltimore and the founder of Verve Psychotherapy, an online practice geared towards males and their partners, emphasizes the importance of choosing the correct therapist who can provide gender-specific care and support. Men can enjoy significant personal growth by forming genuine connections that benefit not only themselves but also their families and communities.

If you are in this situation—a man looking to enhance his well-being and considering counseling as a further step—you are on the correct track. Overcoming the initial barrier of recognizing the necessity of prioritizing mental health is a huge achievement. Braman gives his expert advice on how to handle the trip ahead to help you and others who are in a similar circumstance.

Cast a wide net

Finding the right therapist is like finding the right team member—it takes time, but it’s worth it! Think of it as hiring the right employee, and as with hiring, ask trusted people for referrals.

Imagine chatting with your best friend and discovering they liked therapy. Why not request additional information? You could ask your partner for help, too, if you’ve been talking about mental health. Your primary care doctor can also offer suggestions, so it might be worth mentioning that you’re looking for a therapist. 

If you’re not ready to involve others, don’t worry. The internet can be a great place to start. Search online, but be specific with phrases such as “therapy,” “men’s issues,” and “near me” to narrow your search. Find psychologists with master’s or doctoral degrees to ensure their legitimacy. Braman has a few favorite online directories like Inclusive Therapists, Therapy for Black Men, and Psychology Today which are great places to start.

If you have health insurance, don’t forget to explore your provider’s website or reach out to them directly. They can provide you with a list of therapists within your network. From there, you can delve into some googling to read up on their bios. And don’t worry if your insurance coverage isn’t ideal or if you don’t have insurance at all—there are resources available to help you find an affordable therapist.

Make the most out of your initial conversation

After selecting a few therapists, it’s then time to email or phone them and briefly explain why you’re seeking counseling. Ask about availability, prices, and insurance, and request a consultation if they’re accepting new clients and their charges are affordable.

Braman says the first call is usually brief and free, depending on the provider. It allows the therapist to analyze your needs and give you a sense of their style. They will also outline pricing, billing, appointment frequency, and whether they provide in-person, online, or hybrid sessions. If it fits, they will explain how to start.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify, because honesty and openness build strong therapeutic relationships. Braman advises asking, “Have you helped many individuals like me facing similar issues?” This will show you how confident the therapist may be in helping you reach your goals. Braman suggests asking about the therapist’s engagement in sessions. Their reply may reveal their working style and your future duties. If you have trouble opening up, you may prefer a therapist who guides the dialogue.

Braman says you should feel affirmed after this initial conversation. If not, keep looking. It’s easy to settle for your first choice to avoid starting over, but it’s important to be selective—or at least examine several options—before committing. You’re devoting time, money, and energy to this relationship, so it must feel right. Choosing wisely increases your chances of growth and support.

Don’t expect a quick fix

When it comes to therapy, it’s critical to have reasonable expectations and a positive attitude. According to Braman, cultural messages often pressure men to be powerful, efficient, and successful, leading them to anticipate quick fixes for complex issues. However, it is vital to understand that problems do not disappear suddenly. This is especially true for serious mental health issues such as depression, trauma, or substance abuse disorders.

Unrealistic expectations about treatment, according to Braman, might create more barriers to successful mental health care. Many issues emerge gradually over time, even over generations. Furthermore, if you find it difficult to open up to your therapist and prefer to minimize your emotions, it may take some time to break through that psychological armor and build a comfortable relationship.

So let us embrace the marathon rather than the sprint. Consider therapy to be a gradual transformational experience. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and one session at a time. The goal is to recognize, comprehend, and convey your needs to your therapist while also developing a collaborative partnership. Remember, no matter how much we want it could, duct tape will not miraculously improve your mental health!

As you embark on this transforming journey, embrace the process, be patient with yourself, and believe that positive changes are possible.

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