Men and Intimacy

Psychotherapy Networker • 2 Comments

A Relational Approach to Helping Male Clients


According to Patrick Dougherty, the biggest problem men have in psychotherapy isn’t that intimacy and the language of emotion is such foreign territory, but that therapists expect so little of them. In this clip, Patrick explains what he means and demonstrates how raising the bar for male clients expands their capacity for relationship and intimacy.



Patrick Dougherty has been in private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of Qigong in Psychotherapy: You Can Do So Much by Doing So Little and A Whole-Hearted Embrace. This clip is taken from her session in our men in therapy video course:

A New Blueprint for Engaging Men in Therapy
There are new approaches for engaging men in therapy—informed by neuroscience and proven effective—that can help you dramatically improve positive outcomes in your work with men and couples. Explore the latest findings on gender differences and master science-based strategies for working with men. Learn how to:

  • Avoid common missteps that trigger men to shut down in therapy

  • Gain and retain therapeutic leverage with resistant male clients

  • Approach the issue of male shame and defuse it effectively

  • Address taboo issues including sex, emotions, and fear of intimacy

  • Expand the therapeutic use of your voice, face, and body to strengthen connection with male clients

  • Engage men’s emotions—including fear and rage—as part of healing

  • Enhance men's capacity for empathy, connectedness, and intimacy

  • Recognize distinctive features of male depression and integrate education and coaching into your treatment

  • Recognize and address transference issues that male clients experience with female therapists


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Topic: Children/Adolescents | Couples

Tags: coaching | depression | emotion | empathy | Esther Perel | fear of intimacy | intimacy | men in therapy | neuroscience | psychotherapy | science | sex | sexuality | Terry Real | therapists | therapy | Men | Patrick Dougherty

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2 Comments

Thursday, March 12, 2015 2:44:46 PM | posted by Joanne (Jodi) March Moore, LPC, NCC, BCETS, CCH
My practice attracts many male clients who are drawn to careers and lifestyles that might in some ways set them apart from the general population (e.g. special forces operators, warriors, firefighters, law enforcement officers, fighter pilots, CEOs, CFOs, physicians, attorneys, and yes, psychotherapists). Likewise, men from other walks of life come here.

My experience has been that no generalization will fit any population, especially one defined by gender or sex. I have encountered many who could not understand the meaning and purpose of "intimacy" or "empathy" despite tremendous efforts on the part of many people to help them comprehend these critical concepts. I have encountered many who were well versed in these "languages" and had been speaking them from their first words. Amazingly (not really), I have met just as many women with these same characteristics.

What I have discovered is that the patient's or therapist's characteristics are not primary factors that determine how well we communicate and connect in session or their effectiveness. Instead, it is the relationship we build between us from the first session onward and the therapist's ability to meet the client where he is and walk with him from that place to the destination point set at the first session.

There is no "one size" approach. Learning my patient's view of life and his experiences of living help inform how I will approach him and the way I communicate with him. I become whatever he needs me to be in the span of the hour we share. I adapt to his way of thinking, communicating, and valuing (as long as it is not destructive or negatively nuanced) so that the distance between us decreases. Throughout, I maintain my own clinical judgement and perspective, with clear focus on our goals. I challenge, listen, joke, employ concrete language and examples, focus on instrumental strategies, and work to match his rhythm. All the while, I model open mindedness, use subtle psychoeducational strategies to increase understanding, and model the specific behaviors and skills he may lack. I make it the patients decision to choose to try something new. But, I have no problem confronting complacency or stubborness. Likewise, I have no problem, hearing out a man who has a concern about something that I've said or that happened in session. I try to use everything that happens between us to move him forward.

These relationship dynamics foster trust and mutual respect. Depending on the iseues thag btough him to therapy, I begin to see real change. In most every case, I soon see him beginning to consider different and new perspectives. He often begins to accept influence from me and others, to be more adaptable. I see movement and growth, healing and resolution, and greater ability to understand himself and others. He is often more open to alien concepts and can entertain and even experiment with new ways of thinking and behaving. In the end, I often see lasting change, growth, and healing.

None of this is possible without the dynamic and ever evolving relationship that fosters those outcomes.

Monday, March 16, 2015 4:44:32 PM | posted by Jim McKinley-Oakes
Jodi, Thanks for taking the time to share your eloquent and important response