Santa Barbara Psychotherapy for Men

Psychotherapy for Men in Santa Barbara

We are living at an important and fruitful moment now, for it is clear to men that images of adult manhood given by the popular culture are worn out; a man can longer depend on them...such a man is open to new visions of what a man is or could be.
-Robert Bly

The Challenges of Being a Man in the Twenty First Century

Men are living in very different times than our fathers. The world has been rapidly changing, often to the dismay and confusion of men. The question of "who are we" is not that infrequent.

In the midst of these changes men often have a difficult time reaching out to others for support because men have been taught from a very early age to take care of our own problems and "man up".

The result of men going it alone is often a life of solitary resignation, loneliness, and quiet desperation.

The reality is that men live, on average, ten years less than women. All the major diseases leading to death show significantly higher rates for men. Men have higher murder, assault and battery rates. Men also have a higher rate of drug and alcohol abuse.

When Men overidentify with work it affects the quality of their personal relationships
When Men overidentify with work it affects the quality of their personal relationships

Since men typically find their identity through their work, they often give up quality time with their wife, family, friends, and the activities that have given meaning to their lives outside of work. Because work is so important to men, workplace problems can be detrimental to their overall physical and mental health.

Are You Searching for Your True Identity?
Are You Searching for
Your True Identity?

In this context many men wake up at some point, and it can happen at any age, and find they are dissatisfied. They realize that life is passing them by and they no longer have the control or the options they once had.

This reality can be manifested in a number of ways. Men often become physically ill.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, meaning that one in every four male deaths is related to heart disease. 8.5% of all white men, 7.9% of all African American men, and 6.3% of all Mexican American men have heart disease.

Half the men that die from heart disease did not report any symptoms
Half the men that die from heart disease did not report any symptoms

What is most disturbing is that half the men that suddenly die from heart disease did not report any symptoms. Seventy to eighty per cent of all sudden cardiac events occur in men. Many men are reluctant to seek help, even when their lives depend upon it.

Men, more than women, often turn to drugs and alcohol not only for recreational use, but for escape. Men are more likely to externalize their emotions, which can lead to behavior that is aggressive, impulsive, and assaultive. Often alcohol and other drugs are a significant cause.

Assaultive and abusive behaviors can destroy relationships. One in four women will experience domestic violence sometime in their lives, typically from a partner who has been drinking or taking other drugs. Most often the violent conflicts result from issues related to a perceived attack on "my manhood", the man not feeling respected by his partner.

Are you Self Medicating?
Are you Self Medicating?

High usage of alcohol, because it is a depressant drug, can often lead to clinical depression. When men are depressed they often suffer in silence. The depression results in a pervasive low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment in life, reduced energy, diminished activity, and poor self esteem and self confidence.

Mental Health Issues can affect Sexual Performance
Mental Health Issues can affect Sexual Performance

Because men often define their manhood by their ability to perform sexually, chronic alcohol and other drug abuse can have a negative impact on sexual performance. This can result in a man feeling inadequate, unworthy and impotent: depressed.

Depression can lead to a bleak and pessimistic view of the future which can also then lead to thoughts of suicide. The suicide rates for men are four times higher than for women.

High suicide rates among men has been acknowledged by health experts as a major health problem in the United States. The highest rate of suicide for men is between forty five and sixty five years of age. There is also an increasing rate of suicide among younger men who rarely seek help before their deaths. Men over sixty five have the second highest rate of suicide among men.

These statistics are mentioned to highlight some of the results of the stressors and challenges that affect men's lives on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be this way. There is hope.

Psychotherapy for Men Opens Up Opportunities for a More Complete Life

The irony is that men are typically problem solvers for everyone but themselves. There are many venues for men to experience their real selves. Psychotherapy is one important place because it occurs in a safe professional environment with a therapist that has a significant background in treating men looking for a more fulfilling life.

Therapist has been involved in Men Support Groups for many years and has attended many men retreats. These experiences have led to a real appreciation of men's issues and the need for support and friendships; developing a life not lived in isolation and loneliness, but a life emotionally connected to a significant other, children, and friends.  

With the growth of the women's movement, men have new opportunities to also assess their lives and roles in new ways. Men can create a life that better fits their personality rather than trying to meet the image of a cultural male stereotype.

Psychotherapy for Men

Beyond the impact on a man's personal growth, the implications of men dealing more effectively with their lives has many other implications. When a man faces their stressors and challenges openly and honestly many remarkable things can happen.

For instance one of the most important impacts that is occurring in our society is that men are taking a more active role in the lives of their children.

Research has shown that babies as young as three are searching for masculine role models. For a long time researchers have been studying the negative impact of fathers spending so little time interacting with their new infant babies. A lack of quality father time has been found to have so many long term ramifications for children.

A Father's Bond Provides the Foundation for a Child's Healthy Future
A Father's Bond Provides the Foundation for a Child's Healthy Future

Mental health professionals have come to prioritize that bonding and healthy attachment occurs by both parents with a new born baby. When a man becomes emotionally connected to their children at any age it provides the child with a greater opportunity to have a healthier and more satisfying life.

Give the Gift of Commitment to your Children - Psychotherapy for Men
Give the Gift of Commitment to your Children

It has been said that the psychological absence of fathers from their families is one of the great underestimated tragedies of our times. Often a son interprets this absence as evidence of his own lack of self worth. Emotional absence of the father can have a long lasting impact on a son's self esteem, how he views women and relationships, and how he will parent his own children in the future.

Lack of an emotional connection to father also affects a man's daughter who constantly observes how father relates to mother. Father is a role model for the daughter's future relationships with men because research has indicated that a daughter will consciously or unconsciously seek a man similar to her father.

Men in committed relationships live longer and have more satisfying lives.
Men in committed relationships live longer and have more satisfying lives.

Needless to say a man's effort to develop a healthier and more emotionally connected life enhances and improves all of his relationships, especially when he makes the effort to enrich his life with his significant other. Men in committed primary relationships live longer and have more satisfying lives. Creating a strong emotional bond with a partner has long term affects on all aspects of a man's life.

The ultimate goal of providing psychotherapy that focuses on men's issues is both preventative and developmental. Preventative in assisting men to find ways to avoid the problems that are destroying the lives of so many men in our society. Developmental in providing men with an environment to envision a life that is created from a man's own unique needs, goals, and dreams.

There is hope.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.
Mary Englebreit

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