There was an interesting story in the New York Times last week about the gender imbalance among psychotherapists. Apparently men are opting out of the field. Why is that? Well, my best guess is that it has to do with the topics that are often dealt with in psychotherapy: love, sex, relationships, children, human connection – you know, women’s issues. Okay, I’m being a little facetious here, but not entirely so. Isn’t it true that the topics I just mentioned are in fact considered primarily the domain of women? If someone is having an emotional crisis, aren’t men strongly socialized to believe the appropriate response is to keep a respectful distance and keep one’s mouth shut?
And then there’s the way in which men are stereotyped, as demonstrated in the quote picked by the Times journalist:
“They were all female, and they did give me some comfort,” said Mr. Puckett, 30, who works for a domestic-abuse program in Wisconsin. “But I was getting the same rhetoric about changing my behavior without any challenge to see the bigger picture of what was behind these very male coping reactions, like putting your hand through a wall.”
Is “putting your hand through a wall” actually a typical male coping reaction? Or just a stereotype that really doesn’t apply to most men? Because I think it’s these kinds of stereotypes that make men believe that the more emotionally aware side of life isn’t their strength.