Individual Therapy, Men & Male Individuation, 1
Male individuation is a man’s uniquely individual path; it’s the goal of individual therapy for men.
Often, discussions about “therapy for men” lapse into really regrettable stereotypes that would be completely unacceptable in discussions about therapy for women. Is there a way beyond this?
Here are four profoundly worthwhile questions relating to men in individual therapy.
Can You be a Male and be an Individual?
Looking at the shallow and stereotypical images of men that abound in our culture, it may seem that the answer to that question is “No”. However, when men closely examine their individual lives and stories, they often realize that they actually have been walking a highly unique path. They have things in common with other men, but much that is truly their own.
What is it that our culture does to us that makes us think that this isn’t true?
Is It OK for a Male to Have Problems or Weaknesses?
Our culture socializes men to be intensely competitive with each other, about nearly everything. As a result, even in 2012, it’s easy for a man to interpret any weakness — on his part, or other men’s — as losing, with all that implies in terms of shame and failure. So, many men work extremely hard to avoid any evidence of “loser behaviour” — a.k.a. being human.
Can You be a Male and Have a Life Journey?
Males are supposed to be strong. That image of being strong is supposed to include being — and staying — in control. So, it isn’t surprising that men feel strong pressure to appear in control — to others, and especially to themselves. Men are supposed to have it all together, and to have everything more or less figured out. That sometimes makes it hard for them to acknowledge that they need to grow and become as part of the natural personal journey of life, and of becoming themselves.
What Does Male Individuation Really Mean?
Above all, it means that a man accepts everything that he is, and seeks, as much as he can, to integrate it all into wholeness. It also means accepting himself in his identity as a man in his own way, whether or not that exactly accords with the images of men that have been held out to him by family, society and male peers. It entails finding a freedom to affirm and rejoice in who or what he is, and to relate to others, male or female, out of that freedom. The journey of individual therapy can affirm men, and greatly assist in the unfolding of that process.