7 Reasons Men Seek Out Therapy (E37)

man phone therapy

Why Do Men Go Into Therapy?

Hello and welcome or welcome back – to episode 37 of the of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. John Moore, and I’m a licensed mental health therapist out of Chicago, Illinois and I also teach college courses in psychology and business.

Before getting into today’s content, please be sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss another episode. And folks, if you’ve ever gotten any value out of this podcast, do me a favor. Head over to Apple podcasts and give us a review – it only takes 30 seconds, and it really helps the podcast to organically so that other men – just like yourself – can find it.

OK – so, today, I’m going to be giving you the top seven reasons men secretly seek out counseling. The reason I decided to do this show is to make good on my promise to create a pod after episode 36 where I went over 7 things women secretly say about men in therapy.

As we dive into things-, now would probably be a good time for me share my standard disclaimer so here it goes: This podcast isn’t designed to act as a substitute for mental health counseling and I’m not your personal therapist.

Alighty – let’s jump right into it – the top reasons men seek out therapy. I can tell you right now that in the nearly 20 years I’ve been doing counseling, it’s almost always connected to love and romance. I’m not saying that’s true for everyone, but I am saying that when you peel back the onion a bit, you’ll find relationships somewhere lurking in the background

So, we’re going to talk about that.

We’ll also hear from a listener who wrote me about his need to drink alcohol before going out on a date. Is this something you an relate to? Do you pound a few down in order to socially lubricate? If so, we’re going to talk about it.

As you can see, we have lots going on in today’s show. Stick around!

Why Men Get Counseling Revealed

Have you ever wondered why some men seek out therapy? Is there a part of you who is thinking about working with a counselor but not sure if its right for you?

Well, I can tell you now that you aren’t alone. In fact, one of the first questions I get when someone initially reaches out for guidance goes something like this:

Hey Dr. John – do you get other men coming to you with these types of issues?

And so that is what today’s show is all about – helping you to understand some of the major reasons guys seek out therapy. My hope is to universalize the experience with the goal of stigmas.

Now before I go over my top 7 reasons men seek out therapy, I need to state right now that everything that follows is based on my personal observations. And the reason I’m saying this is because I recognize there are other helping professionals who are listening who may have a completely different set of experiences than I do. I respect that big time.

With that said, in creating today’s pod, I did consult with a group of therapists who specialize in men’s issues. And I can share with you now that all of them – and there were 10 – agreed with the general themes I’m about to go over with you.

OK, let’s get right to it.

Here’s the first one:

1. Confidence

By leaps and bounds, confidence – or self-confidence, is the biggest reason men seek out help. It was just the other day I got a call from a thirty-something year old man who wrote me an email and said:

Hey Dr. John, I’ve been having problems working up the nerve to put myself out there on the dating apps. Do you help people with these kinds of issues?

Now notice this person didn’t say “confidence” per se, but instead talked about working up the nerve to get on the dating apps. That’s a confidence issue – at least to me. What’s more, the issue itself is linked to love and romance, because why else would you want to be on a dating app – know I mean?

So, that’s number one. Can you relate to this one?

2. Feeling Stuck

This particular reason is another biggie in terms of men seeking out guidance. Typically, a guy will contact me and saying something like:

I feel sort of directionless and am having problems reaching my goals. Is this something you can help with?

In response to this type of counseling request, I always ask the person if they know what their goals are. Nine times out of ten, the guy will respond with something like: That’s the problem, I’m not sure what they should be.

Is this something that can relate to? If so, you aren’t alone. We live in a world where society suggests that in order to be successful, we need to make a certain amount of money, drive a specific type of car, and look at certain way. And because we are tribal by nature, we also have a strong need to “fit in”, so to speak. And I’m gonna say it now – social media doesn’t help.

At any rate, when you swirl it all together, it can leave a person, particularly men, feeling like they are stuck.

3. Loneliness

Yep, that’s right, loneliness. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from men – both young and old – how lonely they feel. Often times, when such a man reaches out for guidance, he’ll say something like:

I don’t have a lot of male friends I can be real with.

Now look, this isn’t to say that some of these same guys don’t have buddies they go fishing with or catch a ballgame with. They do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t lonely.

Loneliness happens when we don’t have people in our lives to share our ups and downs with or – conversely- to be there for someone else who is having a hard time. At its core, I’m talking about male bonding.

I’m not going to go through all of the ins and outs of this one now because male loneliness is a topic that deserves its own podcast. What’s important that you know is that feeling lonely is a big reason men seek out therapy.

OK … let’s move on to the next one

4. Intimacy in Relationships

There’s no easy way for me to talk about this one except to just come right out and say it. A lot of men turn to therapy because they need help with creating intimacy in their romantic relationships.

And here is the thing – a lot of people confuse intimacy with sex. While the two terms certainly intersect, they aren’t mutually exclusive. Make sense?

Here is what I typically hear:

Hey Dr. John, how can I be more present in my relationship?

Or

Hey Dr. John, how can I create more closeness with my wife?

And because we are men, it is important to say that as a tribe, we men really don’t get a lot of instruction in this area. So, what happens in therapy – typically – is for men to learn mindfulness-based skills that help them create closeness with their significant other.

5. Stress Management

I bet this one comes as no surprise to you. Stress is a major reason men seek out counseling. There are lots of reasons for this, including work and family obligations. Again, no surprise.

But what you may not know is that a lot of men don’t know how to cope with stress in healthy ways. That’s not a putdown. Instead, it’s a reality and a big reason they reach out for guidance.

I could talk forever and a day about the unhealthy ways many men have learned to cope with stress. Biggies include drinking and eating. But there comes a point when those copings strategies either don’t work anymore or cause more problems than what their worth.

That’s usually when they reach out – because they want to learn new skills and new approaches to dealing with stress.

6. Depression and Anxiety

Ok so this one is no surprise – and many of you listening may be tuning in because you are struggling with this yourself. In my experience, it is rare that men will actually use words like depression or anxiety.

Instead, they usually reach out and say something like, “I’ve been feeling down lately, and I don’t know why, or I’ve been feeling tensed up and can’t concentrate.

Regardless of how their symptoms are described, there is usually a connection – in some way – to intimacy and romance. Examples include not being fully connected to an important relationship or an inability to stay focused.

I’m sharing this with you from the vantage point of 30,000 feet and obviously not getting into the weeds, but you get the general idea. Depression and anxiety are very common reasons that men seek out therapy.

OK, here is the last one.

7. Performance anxiety

As I say that to you, does it the term resonate? I bet for some of you it does. Performance anxiety is the phenomenon whereby a man struggles to achieve or maintain an erection.

What’s interesting about this one is that – at least in my experience – men don’t have problems blurting this one out. I don’t know if it’s because we live in an age where advertising for erection medicines is everywhere or if the shame factor isn’t really a factor, but I can tell you that the men who do want help with this problem are very good at stating their issues and are looking for practical ways to work through.

Now before I close this block out, I want to mention now that addiction and substance abuse are also BIG reasons men reach out for counseling services.

But here’s the thing – when they seek out this kind of guidance, it is usually sandwiched in with one of the previously mentioned seven. I say usually because there certainly are men who are looking for this kind of specialized help.

When it happens, these same men typically have done their research and realize they need help in this area.

I just wanted to mention as a way of information sharing.

Alright, let’s quickly recap those top 7 reasons men go into counseling:

1. Confidence issues

2. Feeling stuck

3. Loneliness

4. Intimacy issues

5. Stress management

6. Depression and anxiety

7. Performance anxiety

I’d like you to spend some time reflecting on this list and ask yourself if you are currently struggling with these kinds of issues – in the here and now or recent past?

If the answer is yes, did you work with a counselor to help create positive change? If you didn’t, what would it be like to give it a try? Honestly, what do you have to lose?

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Listener Email – Alcohol as a Social Lubricant

This week’s listener email comes to us from a man in Texas who is looking for guidance on his need to drink alcohol before going out on a date.

I’ll just read you what he sent to me and then share what I wrote back – at least the paraphrased version.

Here it goes:

Hey Dr. John,

My name is Trevor and I live in Southwest Texas. I’m 30 years old and recently single after a three-year relationship. Recently, I’ve been active on the dating apps and meeting women for very casual dates.

All of this has been going OK, but I’ve found myself in this situation where I need to have a quick drink before heading out the door. It’s nothing big – just a shot of whiskey or vodka. I do it because it helps me to feel more relaxed and not so pent up.

I’m don’t think I’m addicted or anything, but I do think it is kind of ridiculous to condition myself with booze so that I can meet someone new.

Do you have any practical advice you can give me so that I can just be myself on a date without having to reply on alcohol?

Thanks for your podcast, Dr. John, I’ve listened to them all.

Alrighty – there you have it – that’s Trevor’s email. Is this something you can relate to? I am thinking some of you can. And that’s OK. Let’s be real – meeting someone new can be difficult and stressful, particularly if you were in a relationship for an extended period of time and now single.

At any rate, here’s the response I wrote back:

Hi, Trevor,

I really appreciate you reaching out and sharing your dilemma. Right off the bat I can tell you that a lot of guys struggle with the same issue you mentioned.

Part of the reason people use alcohol to socially lubricate is because – at least initially – alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant. I’d be a liar if I didn’t say it doesn’t create a sense of relaxation – at least in the beginning. The problem is that for most of us, when we start to realize that we are using alcohol just to be in social situations, we are presenting a version of ourselves that doesn’t feel authentic.

Now look, I’m going to say this right now. Alcohol use isn’t bad and people who occasionally drink aren’t broken people. I’m mentioning this because too many of us label others as an alcoholic without fully understanding the clinical definition. I won’t go into all of that now, but I am providing a link to an article from Medical News Daily that does provide a very good overview of what alcohol abuse is and what it looks like.  

Given what you shared, I am going to assume you are not an alcoholic and instead, a person who really just uses liquor occasionally as a tool to relax.

Here are some things to consider as alternatives to alcohol in the hours before going on a date.

One option is to spend time meditating. That may sound silly but I’m being real with you. And when I say meditate, I’m talking about spending 10 minutes or so in a quiet place and stepping into a world of confidence. To help you with this, I am including a link to a podcast I did awhile back called: How to create a circle of confidence for mental excellence. Here, I guide you through a self-relaxation technique that helps to up your self-esteem and generate a sense of inner peace.

That’s one option.

The second option is to spend time before your date doing a little self-work. Here, I am talking about pulling out a pen and paper and jotting down three reasons why you are a catch.

Now don’t fall into the trap of focusing on the negatives.  If that happens, boot that crap out of your mind pronto because that’s your false self-talking. Instead, I’d really like you to focus on those three positives I mentioned earlier.

For example, you might write down:

I’m funny

I’m smart

I’m attractive

Now let’s just go with that for a moment, for our purposes. What I’d like you to do is take those three traits and create a very quick affirmation about yourself. Here’s what I came up with in less than 60 seconds:

I’m a smart, funny, attractive man who is naturally confident.

See how I did that? I used those three traits and created an affirmation to reinforce the positive along with a desired outcome. In case you missed it, the desired outcome is being naturally confident.

And I’ll share with you what I tell my clients. Once you have your affirmation, get in front of the mirror and repeat what you’ve written down five times. I’m being totally for real. Look at yourself in the mirror, make eye contact and say to yourself five times:

I’m a smart, funny, attractive man who is naturally confident.

Remember, perception is projection. That’s a $10.00 term from neurolinguistic programming that suggests that how we perceive ourselves and our environment is what we project onto the world. Whatever we project out gets reflected back.

The goal here is to change your own self-perceptions, so you don’t rely on alcohol for self-soothing.

Yes, that’s kind of woo. I get it. But I think if you try this particular technique, you’ll find positive change is possible.

So, Trevor, I hope what I have shared here has been helpful to you. Be sure to write back and let us know how things have progressed. A lot of listeners will be curious.

Well, that’s my response to Trevor. As I close out this block, I’m wondering how many of you use alcohol to bolster your own self-confidence? If this is the norm for you, what would it be like to try something different?

SHOW CLOSE

Wow – that was a lot of information in one podcast, don’t you think? First, we explored some of the major reasons men seek out counseling. Then, we looked at the issue of using dating to socially lubricate before going out on a date. And if you noticed, pretty much everything today was somehow linked to the larger issue of love and romance. It may not have been a direct connection, but when you whittled things down a bit, the link was there.

You know, if you have found this podcast helpful, I’d really love it if you hit that subscribe – or follow button. This way, you’ll never miss another episode.

And I’m just going to come right out and say it – I need your help with getting this podcast to grow organically so that it gets in front of other men who might benefit from the material we explore here. The best way to do that is to leave a review, particularly a written one, wherever you might be listening. Apparently, the more people who leave reviews and then hit subscribe, the more this show ranks higher in the listings. Can you help me out? I’d really appreciate it.

Real quick, I’ll share with you a review a listener shared on Apple Podcasts that made my day. He goes by Joe Unplugged and here’s what he said:

Thanks. Dr. John. I’m 55 and love to learn and grow. Your podcast is refreshingly compact yet filled with positive info. Thanks for the work that you do!

And you see, it is comments like Joe’s that keep me motivated to keep creating these podcasts. I wish that I could make these more regular, but the hard truth is between counseling and teaching, I can’t always do that. But reviews like the one I just read you certainly light a fire under my you know what – so to speak.

You can find me on several Social Media platforms. I’m on Instagram @guycounseling – and I’m on Facebook and Twitter at the same handle.

Well, there you have it – another show. Be mindful of your inner dialogue. Focus on the positive and keep asking yourself what could be different.

Take very good care. I’m Dr. John and this has been another episode of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast.

About John D. Moore 387 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast