More Men Heading
For Therapist's Couch
By Steve Payne
Toronto Sun
YOU SEE, DOC, IT'S LIKE THIS ... Stress, relationship problems, aging, loneliness, depression, unwanted erotic fantasies and impotence are among the reasons more men are seeking help, therapists say. Like the lion in The Wizard Of Oz, more and more men are finding the courage to visit therapists.
Driven to despair by sex, work pressures, family and responsibilities, they're joining a growing male trend and baring their souls to a stranger.
Psychologist Dr. William Pollack, of the Centre for Men at McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass., is the co-author of New Psychotherapy For Men (Wiley, $82.50).
He says men going to therapy is benefitting women because they now prefer men who can express their emotions rather than unfeeling hulks.
"Women have had their John Waynes and it's not too wonderful," he adds.
Pollack, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, undergoes psychoanalysis himself four times a week.
"It's part of my training," says the 48-year-old married father of one.
Pollack never judges his clients and encourages them to discuss feelings with family, friends and employers.
"I turn therapy into an heroic act," he says.
His case successess include the Boston doll lover, who claimed he couldn't find a woman matching his idea of perfection.
After shacking up with an inflatable doll, the man conjured up enough guts to seek professional help.
Though his fixation was somewhat severe, after long talks with Pollack, the man subsequently went down the aisle with a woman he once shunned because she had a mole on her face.
Another of Pollack's cases was a man dating four women at once. He'd had a bad childhood and liked a safety net.
After therapy he married one of his four lovers.
Toronto area psychotherapists also report more men visiting them for treatment.
And what's driving them into therapy?
A myriad of things, say the therapists, including stress, relationship problems, aging, loneliness, depression, unwanted erotic fantasies and impotence.
"It takes great courage for men to seek help, especially when they fear being viewed as puny, wimpy and unable to handle things," says Toronto psychotherapist Steve Schklar, 56.
"Men have tried to tough it out but it doesn't work. It's a wonderful thing that they are venturing out for help."
Men make up 70% of Schklar's practice and the president of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists says colleagues report similar numbers.
A number of patients, he reveals, are middle-aged and afraid of growing old. "They are wondering what they have accomplished," he reports.
"The world is changing too fast, they don't know how to speak to their wives, how to be politically correct. They are feeling out of step."
Schklar offers individual and or group sessions. Most clients spend three to six months in therapy through once-a-week, 50-minute sessions.
Men of all avenues enter his office: Rich, poor, factory workers, doctors, businessmen, artists and librarians.
He's seen victims of physical and sexual abuse and seedy men who've now "cleaned up their act."
Many are tongue-tied about their feelings, notes Schklar, and he helps them open up.
One treatment involves asking men to note their emotions and those of people they deal with. They can then take part in group sessions and practise expressing themselves.
Doug McKee, 37, an Atlanta area psychologist who has studied men's issues, says his male clientele has spiralled.
The supposed stigma of only wimps going for therapy is being overcome, he says.
"It's okay for men to be lost and seek directions," he says. McKee believes the readiness of famous male celebrities to discuss their therapy has helped men bite the bullet.
"There's a lot of soul searching going on in a society that changes so fast," he says. "Men of the '90s are different. They're more willing to go outside the box and do less traditional things."
But is male therapy another made-in-Hollywood trend?
Definitely not, says Toronto psychotherapist Joyce Curry, 43.
"Therapy is no easy matter," she says. "Stripping the layers and looking at oneself is hard work. There's no danger of it becoming trendy."
What types of guys are going
What types of men are going into therapy? Here are some of the categories:
Walter Mitty Man: Quiet. Nice. Well-liked. Internal pain and fury.
Outdoor Man: Prefers his company to his family's as he's less uptight alone. Miserable and depressed.
Beer Man: Laughs it off. Nothing wrong with me, he insists.
Macho Man: To him, sex is love.
Mid-Life Crisis Man: Been there, done that. Afraid of aging. Depressed. Anxious.
Indecisive Man: Can't commit. Won't express true feelings. Stressed. Anxious. Likely depressed.
Success Man: Married to job. Pathetic social life. Breakdown in progress.