Yes, there really is a difference between the male brain and the female brain. So, it makes sense that treatment should be customized to meet the unique psychological, emotional, and sexual needs of men for treatment to be effective.
The pressure men feel to live up to a "macho" image can and does lead to major medical and mental health problems. Many men, by and large, don't get regular physical exams because they fear being vulnerable and/or dread be deemed weak or frail. Men also have traditionally shied away from psychotherapy because opening up about feelings has been considered non-masculine and contrary to the male machismo image that media often portrays. Consequently, they place themselves at risk of contracting many illnesses, both physical and emotional, that could be prevented if they took their health care needs more seriously.
The following site provides a topical index of most of the issues that concern and effect men: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/mens_health/mens_health_85,P00723/. The following site also discusses the impact of dual diagnosis (two co-occurring diagnoses at the same time –for example, chemical dependency and depression) http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/mental-health-and-addiction/most-common-in-men/ and the short-term and long-term consequences to men's health and well-being.
The National Institute of Mental Health also provides a wealth of information on a variety of topics affecting mental health. This reference http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/mens-mental-health-listing.shtml provides information about the impact of depression and unhealthy amounts of stress on men's health.
On the other hand, with the proliferation of information that is now available on the internet, men are realizing that they do not have to suffer in silence. Given that a one-size-fits-all approach has now become a thing of the past, there is more sensitivity to gender differences and need for specialized treatment for men's unique mental health issues. Research has also shown that men can positively influence each other through group discussions about health.
Men’s Group* was created JUST FOR MEN, for just that purpose, and offers a SAFE place for men to talk about various issues without being judged. The following excerpt from Dr. Karen's Marriage Repair Kit: It's all about Respect (2015) (found at www.drkaren.com) discusses the benefits of group therapy:
"Participation in group therapy serves several purposes. Because each member in the group is inevitably at a different point on the coping skills continuum and grows at a different rate, watching others overcome similar problems successfully, instills hope and inspiration. New members or those in despair may be particularly encouraged by others' positive outcomes. Since many have felt isolated, unique, "different," unlikable/unlovable, and have had difficulty sustaining interpersonal relationships, group therapy provides the opportunity for members to feel understood and similar to others, maybe for the first time. Enormous relief often accompanies the realization that they "aren't such weirdo's after all," which is another benefit of the group process.
Experience has also taught us that the therapist/facilitator exerts a powerful influence on the communication patterns of group members by modeling certain behaviors. For example, the therapist models active listening, giving nonjudgmental feedback, and offering support. Over time, members pick up these behaviors and incorporate them in their interactions with group members. This earns them increasingly positive feedback from others, thereby enhancing their self-esteem and emotional growth.
Once the "Men's Group” (mentioned above) had been established and had been running for some time, it was very heart-warming to listen to the guys give each other encouragement and applaud them for their gains. In fact, one person mentioned, "You guys mean so much to me. You are like the family I always of dreamed of having?" They were also good at policing each other's behavior – without judgment - which they were taught how to do early in the group process. In fact, sometimes the dialogue among group members was so efficient and effective, it was unnecessary for either I or my co-therapist to intervene – we barely uttered a word during the entire 90-minute session!
During the group process, the re-casting of the family-of-origin characters gives members a chance to correct dysfunctional interpersonal relationships in a way that can have a powerful therapeutic impact, not only for themselves, but also in their interpersonal relationships and marriage. It also provides the opportunity for "catharsis" which is a powerful emotional experience; the release of conscious or unconscious feelings, followed by a feeling of great relief. It is a type of emotional discovery, as opposed to intellectual understanding, that can lead to immediate and long-lasting change."
* EXERPT from my book, Dr. Karen's Marriage Repair Kit: It's all about Respect.
Feel free to call Dr. Karen (954-779-2855) to find out more and to discuss availability of openings within this group.
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