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Man Up! – Boot Camp on Male Resistance in Couple’s Therapy

Wednesday, November 20th 2019
12:00 PM EDT

Presenter: Dr. Alan Singer, PhD, LMSW

120 minutes

Learning Objectives:
  1. Recognizing and assessing for resistance. Examples: silence, verbosity, small-talk, asking the therapist personal questions, not keeping appointments.
  2. ‎Understanding men's resistance to therapy: Women are oriented toward conversation, feelings, and thought. Men are action-oriented. Men want to avoid shame, do not want to be seen as failing, and do not like being outnumbered thereby losing control. Asking a man to speak intimately about his life in weekly sessions with a person who is there to help him, might make him uneasy since it goes against the stereotype of the independent "Marlboro Man" who relies on himself and doesn't really need others (Sweet 2012).
  3. Overcoming male resistance by: Knowing enough about male norms and their impact on men in therapy Making therapy attractive to men Dealing with sexual feelings in the therapy hour Being afraid of male anger Responding to male clients who think we cannot help them
  4. Getting the male client engaged. Don't stop at just overcoming resistance! If you want to save this marriage, work your way up the therapy ladder: engagement, assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation, termination.
Agenda:

1-Recognizing and assessing for resistance 30 mns.

2-‎Understanding men's resistance to therapy 30 mns.

3-Overcoming male resistance by 30 mns.

4-Getting the male client engaged 20 mns.

5-Q&A 10 mns.

Resources for further study:
Forrest, Alan and Steigerwald, Fran (2004). An Examination of Gender and Ethics in Family Counseling. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 12(2), 174-176
Shepard, David and Harway, Michele (2012). Engaging Men in Couples Therapy.
New York, NY: Routledge.
Singer, Dr. Alan. (2011) Creating Your Perfect Family Size: How to Make an Informed Decision About Having a Baby. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.
Stosny, Steven (March 2009). Why Most Men Don’t Open Up in Couples Therapy. Psychotherapy Networker
Sweet, Holly Barlow (2012). Gender in the Therapy Hour. New York, NY: Routledge.

This webinar offers 2 NYS ED Contact Hours

Have you ever seen these two statistics side by side?  Of the 900,000 U.S. divorces annually, less than 10% of couples seek any form of counseling. ‎
And…of the 120,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers, 12% are men.

Could the astronomical divorce rate in the U.S. be related to the dearth of male therapists? Recruiting male therapists in an effort to decrease the 50% divorce rate would be productive, but it is not the goal of this seminar. This presenter seeks to educate and empower female and male therapists to better deal with a husband's resistance in therapy through increased awareness, hands-on techniques, and role-play exercises.  Traditional couples’ therapy is biased towards women as they tend to be the caretakers of relationships generally. ‎Thoughts, feelings, and emotions are the stuff that women are made of much more than men. Exploring emotions and feelings in a clinical setting might feel as familiar to a man as a walk on the surface of the moon. “Generally, women talk as a way to connect; men talk as a way to share information. Women are more comfortable with disclosing personal concerns and eliciting help. Men are often less likely to share and reach out and ask for help and are more likely to seek solutions and play the role of Mr. Fix-It” (Forrest and Steigerwald, 2004). One short-term objective in couples’ therapy is to describe what the therapy process is and how many sessions will be needed in order to achieve results.

Theoretical Constructs:
Stosny (2009) believes that men dislike therapy, not because they may have to “talk like a woman”, but because they hate that therapy forces them to experience the most heinous emotional state for a man…feeling like a failure.
Shepard and Harway (2012 p.4) assert that “One particular theme plays a central role in why many men struggle in couples therapy; that theme is the role of shame in men’s lives. The issue of shame manifests in both the male member’s vulnerability to experience shame in sessions and in the presenting problem that brought the couples into therapy. It is critical that the couple’s therapist knows how to use interventions and choose words that avoid inadvertently shaming the male partner.”   

‎This presenter will propose his own third theory of male resistance, the power and control model, in which the husband resents being outnumbered in each session by females two to one and doesn't believe he can get a fair deal on a level playing field. He's powerless and in the minority from day one, in unfamiliar territory, and frustrated because there are so few male therapists available. He has lost control.
Assisting Therapists in Overcoming Male Resistance
It Takes One to Tango: How to draw in the husband who refuses to attend sessions.
How to respond to aggressive and resistant questioning from the husband to the therapist. "We're married 26 years...are you even 26 years old?"
Teach, don’t judge.       
Listening: be interested not interesting.  

One of the most important take-home messages for a female/male therapist is, the husband must know from session one that you will be even-handed and care about his own priority agenda items. “‎Tell us your priorities Bill” is a much better approach than…”Bill, would you like to respond to Debbie’s accusations and descriptions of her disappointment in you?”  

It is for that reason that an excellent opening line in the first therapy is: What are you hoping to change about your relationship by coming today? It is this presenter’s goal to provide useful out-of-the-box tools such as this for female therapists. Using communication techniques that ‎we teach couples when speaking with husbands. “When women want to draw closer, we face each other, lock eyes in what has been called the “anchoring gaze” and proceed to reveal our hopes, our worries, and our lives. To women, intimacy is talking face to face, a behavior that probably evolved millions of years ago when ancestral females spent their days holding their infants up in front of them, soothing them with words” (Dr. Helen Fisher 2009). Therefore a female therapist should not use an anchoring gaze because a male finds it threatening.

Presenter Bio

Thirty years in private practice of clinical social work with an 80% success rate in saving couples on the brink. PhD and MSW in Social Work. Adjunct Professor of clinical social work at Touro Graduate School of Social Work. Director of Touro Jewish communal outreach, men's division. Former Executive Director of Shalom Task Force. Author, Creating Your Perfect Family Size (Wiley). Presenter: Nine Essential Principles for Counseling Couples on the Brink - NEFESH December 2018. Presenter: First NARME conference Houston, 2011. 

Learning Objectives:
  1. Recognizing and assessing for resistance. Examples: silence, verbosity, small-talk, asking the therapist personal questions, not keeping appointments.
  2. ‎Understanding men's resistance to therapy: Women are oriented toward conversation, feelings, and thought. Men are action-oriented. Men want to avoid shame, do not want to be seen as failing, and do not like being outnumbered thereby losing control. Asking a man to speak intimately about his life in weekly sessions with a person who is there to help him, might make him uneasy since it goes against the stereotype of the independent "Marlboro Man" who relies on himself and doesn't really need others (Sweet 2012).
  3. Overcoming male resistance by: Knowing enough about male norms and their impact on men in therapy Making therapy attractive to men Dealing with sexual feelings in the therapy hour Being afraid of male anger Responding to male clients who think we cannot help them
  4. Getting the male client engaged. Don't stop at just overcoming resistance! If you want to save this marriage, work your way up the therapy ladder: engagement, assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation, termination.
Agenda:

1-Recognizing and assessing for resistance 30 mns.

2-‎Understanding men's resistance to therapy 30 mns.

3-Overcoming male resistance by 30 mns.

4-Getting the male client engaged 20 mns.

5-Q&A 10 mns.

Resources for further study:
Forrest, Alan and Steigerwald, Fran (2004). An Examination of Gender and Ethics in Family Counseling. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 12(2), 174-176
Shepard, David and Harway, Michele (2012). Engaging Men in Couples Therapy.
New York, NY: Routledge.
Singer, Dr. Alan. (2011) Creating Your Perfect Family Size: How to Make an Informed Decision About Having a Baby. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.
Stosny, Steven (March 2009). Why Most Men Don’t Open Up in Couples Therapy. Psychotherapy Networker
Sweet, Holly Barlow (2012). Gender in the Therapy Hour. New York, NY: Routledge.

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  • NEFESH International SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0048
  • NEFESH International SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists #0046
  • NEFESH International is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors. #MHC-0082