One of my areas of focus is in working with men and their emotions and relationships. Here are just a few topics that typically come up in my work with men:
• Shifting gender roles and socio-cultural changes in the way men are expected act and react. This has resulted in feeling marginalized for some men and confusion surrounding boundaries, balance of power and how this affects the way men see themselves both in relationships and in the workplace.
• The fact that men often experience more stigma around experiencing depression, anxiety and trauma and, as a result, may not have the social support and language around mental health than do many women.
• Men often manifest depression differently than women and, as a result, it may be experienced as anger, difficulty with intimacy and workaholism, just to name a few.
• Part of my work with men and relationships is with individuals who have a tendency to experience an overwhelming urge to emotionally distance themselves the closer they and their partner start to become. This is often a result of anxiety around having another person truly know and see all aspects of them, having never experienced a feeling of safety around being open and intimate. As a consequence, they are not able to foster or experience the intimacy they seek.
• Because men in our culture, from a young age, still tend to be given strong messages linking power and autonomy to self-reliance and lack of emotional expression, this issue with emotional avoidance tends to be more common among men than women. Although emotional avoidance or distancing occurs on a continuum and is experienced differently by different people, below are some of the more serious behaviors often displayed by those who experience high levels of (conscious or subconscious) anxiety when it comes to emotional intimacy.
• Another aspect of my work with men and relationships involves helping men better understand the dynamic between themselves and their partner, whatever that dynamic may be. Couples will sometimes, without realizing it, develop unhealthy bonding patterns over the course of the relationship that hinder emotional and physical intimacy. There are many lenses one can use to explore this dynamic ranging from adult attachment theory and love languages to exploring personal developmental tasks and various aspects of one’s self that may be bonding with one’s partner and those that are not, respectively.