Why Men Avoid Counselling

February 25, 2015

in Uncategorized

Recently someone pointed me to an article titled Husbands Feeling Inadequate in Counseling. The article, written by a man, says many men feel uncomfortable in counselling because they don’t speak the language, making them feel stupid. I think this is a brilliant observation.

When we feel out of place, we feel inadequate. No one likes feeling inadequate, and men usually react to it more strongly than women do. By react, I mean flee from it.

Man feeling uncomfortable at counselling  © Monkey Business | dollarphotoclub.com

Counselling generally fits into how women think and feel, so for her it’s not much of a stretch. Women are generally better able to voice their feelings, and most find it fairly easy to do so even with someone they don’t know well. Many men find it difficult to even know their feelings, much less find words to express them. Men also tend to be rather closed about their feelings. Sharing with their wife is tough enough; doing it in front of a stranger is just crazy.

If you want your husband to do some counselling with you, you must understand why he finds it difficult so you can make it less threatening. I think counselling is best done with a husband and wife team, which makes him feel he has someone looking out for him. If you can’t find a team, I’d suggest you get a male counsellor. Your husband will be uncomfortable enough with a man; a woman will make it even harder. Also, understand the word “counselling” has negative connotations for men. “Coaching” and “mentoring” are much better words.

I’ve been talking recently with a fellow who says any married couple should meet with a professional counsellor twice a year, just as you should see a dentist twice a year. I see real wisdom in the idea. It makes counselling preventative maintenance for your marriage, and it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong. Twice a year you get a check and some minor fixes. You both become comfortable with the counsellor and s/he gets a baseline reading for your marriage. Should you ever need help, you’ll be plugged in and ready to go. Preventive maintenance is great way to suggest counselling to your husband.

~ Paul – I’m XY and a marriage coach, and I understand why men get freaked out about counselling.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr Richard Norris February 25, 2015 at 2:09 am

Hey Paul,

I can relate to this from both sides. I have had counselling before with a male counsellor. It was fairly easy although I am sure I would have been just as comfortable with a woman. I may be an exception. I have no challenge discussing my feelings when required.

Whilst I agree that for men coaching and mentoring are more acceptable terms, I know from experience that even then many men don’t like to seek it out because to do so is to admit they cannot cut it on their own (a significant misconception I might add). Only those who are enlightened to the benefits or the few who are competitive and desire to take advantage of coaching and mentoring more often than not for their own gain first and foremost. Whilst their are exceptions, this has been my experience.
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Paul Byerly February 25, 2015 at 11:38 am

We d have a problem admitting we need help, don’t we?
Coaching, as you well know, is about helping someone reach their full potential. It’s not “you have no idea” but rather “you could do so much more”.

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T February 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm

“many men don’t like to seek it out because to do so is to admit they cannot cut it on their own”

True. And my husband didn’t want to go because he didn’t want to get blamed for anything. Once we did finally go, he had a wonderful rapport with our (female) therapist.

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Jerry Stumpf February 25, 2015 at 6:06 am

Super article Paul!

I have worked to put into words what you said here. Thank you for the post.

I knew some of the reasons a wife will sign up first for our seminar or coaching sessions, but you have generated some extra ideas to share.

Your friend – Jerry Stumpf
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Paul Byerly February 25, 2015 at 11:39 am

Thanks Jerry.
I notice women are faster to sign up for marriage related seminars – unless you make it clear you will talk about sex, then men are more interested. ;-)
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John February 25, 2015 at 5:56 pm

We went to counseling with our pastor and his wife for our sexless marriage. It worked out great. My wife said “Of course he’s going to say sex is important, he’s a man.” When the wife agreed with him? “Well, she’s not me.” End of counseling.

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Rosemary February 26, 2015 at 7:45 am

Many men are more comfortable with male counselors, but some actually prefer to talk about feelings and problems with a female. If possible, I would suggest selecting a counselor together. And if you aren’t both comfortable with that person after a couple of sessions, try someone else.
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Paul Byerly February 26, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Absolutely. And in some situations a male counsellor may be a real problem for a woman.
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El Fury February 26, 2015 at 8:05 am

I agree with Rosemary that some men prefer female counselors. I think a man’s biggest hesitation may be the feeling that he’s walking into an ambush. Linked to you here.
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Paul Byerly February 26, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Saw the links this morning – thanks!
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