I want to let you in on a little not-so-secret reality: in the therapy world, male therapists are a bit of a minority. As a member of this smaller group, I’m often asked if it would be appropriate or effective for a female to work with a male therapist or even why someone, male or female, would choose to work with a man. Although we are trained to be able to work with all individuals regardless of gender and sex identification, I’ve come to understand that some individuals have trepidation in working with a male therapist, and wonder how I could possibly understand/help/connect with a female client or if I will be as “nurturing” as a female therapist. There are some preconceived notions about working with a man that can be helpful to unpack and I thought this would be a good opportunity to get some of these concerns and feelings out in the open and talk about them, which is just what therapy is all about after all:
- “As a woman, I would be more comfortable talking to another woman about my issues.” While I appreciate and respect the desire and perspective that speaking with a counselor of the same sex provides comfort and safety, I’ve found that many female clients find great solace working with a male therapist. Some women haven’t been afforded the opportunity to engage in and experience a healthy relationship with a man, or have had negative experiences with men in their lives. Through the positive experience of working with a male therapist, some women are able to experience a totally new way of relating to men and having the healing power of a therapeutic alliance with a man.
- “I think I’d rather my teenage daughter work with a woman.” Some parents feel worried about their daughters engaging in a therapeutic relationship with a man, either because they are fearful that she won’t relate to a man or that it will limit what she is able to talk about with me. My experience, though, has been that many teenage girls find safety and comfort in working with a male therapist. In seeing a male therapist who is healthy, establishes appropriate boundaries, in tune with his feelings, compassionate, and attentive, adolescent girls often report feelings of empowerment and a great appreciation in being able to challenge their perceptions of men and to get to experience a male role model who they can really be themselves with and feel safe.
- “Although I’m a guy, I really think I want to work with a woman. Other guys don’t really know how to talk about this stuff.” I get it. Society has taught us that men aren’t supposed to talk about their feelings nor be able to express empathy and understanding to others. Through the effective modeling and authenticity of a strong relationship with a male therapist, men are able to experience a healthy and mature way of interacting with other men. This often plays in stark contrast to the Hollywood depiction of how guys interact with each other which often provides men with a new appreciation and bolstered comfort in engaging with other men outside the therapy room.
Making the decision to reach out to someone for therapy can be scary and makes us feel extremely vulnerable. With this, it is absolutely understandable that we all want to feel as safe and secure as we possibly can throughout this process, and part of my job is working with all my clients in creating this felt sense of safety and connection. So if you’re wondering what it would be like to work with a male therapist, reach out to me and let’s explore how I can support you in your journey.
Justin works with all ages and genders and currently facilitates a teen Identity and Relationship group for all genders as well as GirlTalk Therapy groups for teen girls. Learn more about Justin here!