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|Case Studies Mar/Apr - Page 12|
The men referred to my boot camps come from therapists not as fortunate as she. Many of them complain that it's hard for some women therapists to understand, much less appreciate, male dread of failure, which permeates all the "ways to be masculine" I've seen in difficult men. I'm certain that dismissing dread of failure as a gender stereotype exacerbates it.
As to my attitude about why men "fail" therapy, I don't believe that men fail therapy at all. Therapists certainly fail men, often because they stress context and process more than behavioral outcome.
Generalizations about gender, like those any other a therapist makes, should only be considered as verifiable tendencies (not capacities) and used as guides for intervention. That therapists must be sensitive to the many exceptions to all tendencies seems too obvious to note. Incidentally, gender tendency predicts more accurately than any contextual variable. The exploration of the contextual variables that Bograd cites is, in general, appealing to women, but it conforms to the worst stereotypes that many men have about therapy and is part of the reason that thousands of men reject it out of hand.
As Bograd notes, the exploration of gender roles and ways to be masculine or feminine aren't part of the actual therapy I do. The mutual compassion that heals couples arises from the motivation to relieve suffering and promote mutual well-being, not from being sensitive to whatever roles or generalizations men and women may lapse into when cut off from their deepest values about themselves and each other.
Steven Stosny, Ph.D. is the director of Compassion Power and author of You Don't Have to Take It Anymore: How to Turn a Resentful, Angry or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One and Love Without Hurt. Contact: email@example.com.
Michele Bograd, Ph.D., is a couples therapist in private practice at Arlington, Massachusetts. The editor of several books on gender and family therapy, she' long been involved in the feminist movement in family therapy.
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