Making the decision to go to counseling can be a tough thing to do for many people – especially men. Many men just flat out refuse to go to counseling even though it’s something they really need (and usually know it).
The question is, why? Why do so many men refuse to go to counseling? As it turns out, there are several reasons. But just because reasons exist doesn’t mean they’re valid.
Many men who refuse to go to counseling do so for the same reasons they refuse to ask for directions. What are those reasons? Take a look below to find out.
Reasons Why Men Avoid Counseling
Counseling can be difficult. It requires a someone to think and talk about topics that can be uncomfortable. Talking about uncomfortable topics is outside the comfort zone for many of us, but men in particular struggle with this. So, although they know they’d benefit from it, many men still refuse to go to counseling.
Want to know some other reasons why? Here are the top 5 reasons men typically cite when they refuse to go to counseling (or ask for directions):
1. PROBLEM SOLVERS - Men by nature are problem solvers. When a man's purpose and identity are primarily defined by solving problems, then he'd naturally respond like many men do when asked by their wives to go to counseling - "Why would I pay someone to fix something I can fix myself?"
2. WEAKNESS - Our culture teaches men that they're supposed to be strong and successful. Counseling requires us to acknowledge mistakes and learn how to do things differently, which some men see as weakness.
3. PRIDE - Men put a lot of importance on how they're perceived by others. Going to counseling, and all the implications it brings, can be a threat to a man's image. Some men will protect the image they want to project at all costs -- this is why I have several men who come to me for counseling designed for men and still refuse to check-in with our receptionist.
4. CHANGE - Going to counseling is about change. What change will be like is an unknown. And we all fear the unknown. This is why I often hear something like, "I'd rather get a root canal without pain killer than go to counseling."
5. CONTROL - One of the things that makes men most uncomfortable about being in counseling is not being in control. It's important to recognize that some men also use their refusal to go to counseling as a way to control their wives and marriages.
Benefits To The Men Who Do Go To Counseling
Not all men refuse to go to counseling. There are men who don't let the above reasons become barriers to going to counseling and they learn how to change and improve their lives. Those who don’t go usually stay stuck and unhappy for far longer than necessary.
In addition to improving mental, emotional, and physical health, counseling can also help make a man’s life easier. Understanding your role as a man, and what masculinity means to you and looks like within your world can be very complicated. Counseling can help a man better understand and decide what his role in his own life should be. Learning how to let go of certain beliefs and expectations can be extremely beneficial.
Increased awareness of your own thoughts and feelings is an additional benefit, and is crucial when it comes to overcoming destructive tendencies. Many of the problems men typically suffer with -- anger, depression, self-loathing -- come from the conflict between their belief of the way they should be and how they actually act and feel. The problems resulting from this contradiction can impose themselves on all areas of a man’s life and lead to unhappiness and pain.
These challenges show up most often in personal and romantic relationships because these go deeper than superficial work relationships or acquaintances. Once a couple really starts to know one another and experiences conflict -- which all couples will -- it can shine a light on and reveal these deeper issues. Often when a couple comes to counseling they discover that the root of the problems they’re having actually go back personal issues that one partner brought into the relationship and predate the relationship itself.
As a result, the men who are willing to go to counseling and accept help where needed are able to be better partners, parents, and friends. Those who continue to refuse to go to counseling for any of the reasons above often struggle in these areas. Unaddressed these struggles can lead to divorce, emotional issues, and an internal emptiness and loneliness that’s hard to articulate.
So, the most important question is, which man are you going to be?
Editor's Note: This post was originally published Apr 13, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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