Counselling for men London Guide
Mental health and therapy for men is becoming more popular in London. Counselling for men is a talking therapy which caters for men and the unique challenges the face, including relationship difficulties, childhood sexual abuse, childhood trauma, gender identity and drug and alcohol abuse.
The stereotype of a man having to appearing invincible and fearless is becoming outdated, with the growing awareness around men’s mental health. There are new definitions of what it means to be strong, based on emotional intelligence and the capacity to be vulnerable with others.
As a man, this doesn’t mean you have to give up your natural masculine tendencies, far from it. It’s about becoming aware of another dimension – your inner world, which has a hidden, but huge influence on your thoughts, behaviours and success. For some, this can involve confronting childhood trauma or working with personality disorders that might be causing relationship issues
Your inner world is the realm of emotions and feelings. It might surprise you that men have just as many emotions as women do. But they’ve been conditioned to hide and deny that side of themselves through societal expectations. It can be so ingrained that it’s not uncommon for a man to be completely unaware of how he feels.
This can make it difficult to form close friendships, where men can really be themselves, and express their vulnerabilities and doubts as well as their strengths and successes.
How are you feeling?
How do you reply to someone asking how you’re feeling? For many men, it’s that they’re feeling fine. But how can it be that men are always fine? Men tend to fall into two categories:
- The disassociated man
You don’t know how you feel, or what the question means. When you check your feelings, there’s nothing there. The whole world of therapy and feelings doesn’t make sense to you.
- The hidden man
You know how you feel – you might be feeling anxious, or stressed. Or you might be angry about something. But this is a private feeling, not for sharing with anyone. There’s a strong distinction between your inner world of emotions, and how you present yourself to the outer world. You might (rightly) feel that people wouldn’t be able to tolerate your truth.
The disassociated man
It’s very common for men to not be ‘in touch’ with their emotions. If you’re one of these men, you might not think you have many feelings, and when you do get them, they might come out of nowhere and surprise you. You’ll be more familiar with your thoughts, and will probably rationalise and work things out, rather than feel them.
But its mot that you don’t have feelings, you’re simply not aware of them. As soon as an emotion begins to arise, you’ll shut them down before you’re consciously aware of them. You might have also developed a range of behaviours which automatically divert your attention away from what you’re feeling. This can be anything from throwing yourself into work, drinking, exercising, or getting involved in various hobbies.
You tell people you feel fine because at that moment, when you search for answer, nothing comes up. You don’t have easy access to the messy, swirling sea of emotions lurking beneath the surface.
But these emotions, if not accessed and expressed can become unpredictable, sometimes erupting in a volcano of anger, or panic attacks, or long term depression. This can be frightening, for you and others, as you can feel out of control, or suddenly become a violent or aggressive person. Anger problems and issues can be significant among male clients.
The hidden man
You might be aware of how you feel to an extent, but there’s a conflict about how much of your inner world you can safely share with others. Your feelings might go against peoples expectations of you, or those around you might need you to be strong so they can feel protected.
You might be used to telling people you’re fine out of habit, because it keeps things going smoothly. Those around you may have got used to it too, and might be shocked if you suddenly started to share your innermost thoughts and feelings.
Men have been socialised to keep their feelings to themselves, so it easily becomes a ‘natural’ default. This can exclude many men from creative pursuits, or interests that might have feminine connotations. While there’s a shift in schools today, most men have never had any training or encouragement to explore more of their inner world.
Without knowing how to navigate the emotional terrain, the inner world can be a fear-provoking and potentially overwhelming place for a man. There’ll be pent up emotions, desires, and thoughts that you may not want to acknowledge.
Emotions are beyond our control, and don’t need to be judged as good or bad. They need to be explored, accepted as part of you, resolved and integrated. With a trained therapist, it’s possible to gently discover your inner world and learn about the hidden unconscious drives that form your behaviour patterns, thoughts, and ways of seeing the world.
“Since that day (I opened up about my emotions), it’s just been so much easier to live and so much easier to enjoy my life.”
Do you need therapy for men?
If any of the 12 descriptions below resonate with you, you could probably benefit from mens counselling:
- You have trouble knowing what your feelings are, or where they’ve come from, and what to do about them
- Your feelings sometimes erupt suddenly, taking you by surprise. Or you feel anger, sad or depressed for no reason
- You feel lonely, and/or you’re avoiding socialising with people
- You feel anxious, your thoughts are racing and you can’t turn them off
- You have trouble getting to know your friends well, and getting past the casual stage.
- People complain that you’re not ’emotionally available’, or you’re uncomfortable around people expressing strong emotions
- You’re embarrassed to talk about your feelings, or ask for what you want
- You can’t remember the last time you’ve cried
- You’re too embarrassed to hug another man, and avoid public displays of affection
- You’re confused about your sexual orientation or gender
- You’ve been sexually abused in the past, or have sexual problems
- You use substance abuse, or alcohol abuse to numb your feelings
- You’ve experienced a signifiant loss, but feel numb
Toxic masculinity – a confusing message for men
It’s clearly beneficial for men to be in touch with their feelings, so they can avoid depression, angry outbursts or behaviours under the ‘toxic masculinity’ umbrella. But it’s not always easy to make changes within a culture and society which exhibits contradictions about how men are expected to behave.
While women are now becoming more free to take on masculine qualities, rigid masculine stereotypes are prohibiting men from developing more feminine qualities. Research shows that men at work who are vulnerable enough to ask for help can be seen as less capable and confident, or can be penalised for being too feminine in a male-dominated job.
Are women attracted to vulnerable men?
We hear all the time that women are looking for vulnerable men, who can share their emotions, but in reality, many men find that they’re perceived as weak and incompetent. It’s a difficult area for many men, especially young men, who are receiving mixed messages.
The answer lies in integrating your natural masculinity with an awareness of your inner world. There’s no contradiction when you’re coming from an authentic place, crying when you’re sad, and drawing on your innate aggression and drive when needed. The balance will be different for each man, as we’re all unique.
It’s about being aware of who you are, and acting in congruence, so your inner and outer worlds are more aligned. For most men, that means discovering their true feelings and emotions which might be deeply buried and out of sight.
Counselling for men in London
Therapy for men, with the right therapist, can help you to access and process your emotions and feelings in a healthy way. You’ll work with an experienced male therapist in a safe and confidential space. It will help you to develop self-confidence, purpose, and form intimate relationships with both men and women.