It’s a well-known fact that men and women can have very different life experiences and experience different mental health issues in different ways. For example, men are much more likely to commit suicide, become homeless, and be victims of violent crime than women. Men, for reasons known and unknown, are also a lot less likely to seek help for mental health issues.
In 2019/2020 it was found that “Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.” – Mental Health Foundation ( https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/statistics/men-women-statistics)
Are men less likely to seek help because of the lack of male therapists? Maybe. In 2014, BACP found that less than 20% of their practicing counsellors and psychotherapists were male. (Reference: https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/archive/28-april-2014-men-and-counselling ). There is a definite gender imbalance in the talking therapies sector and the perception of counselling as mostly ‘women’s work’ needs to change if we are to address the mental health treatment gap.
Has the gender imbalance become more balanced since 2014? Well, we are still seeing new students coming to us who are both male and female, though females still disproportionately outnumber males in all study years. We continue to graduate and accredit both male and female psychotherapeutic counsellors and psychotherapists. We welcome applications from men wanting a career in psychotherapy as we know how important it is that the therapy community reflects wider society in every diverse aspect. We know that more and more men are seeking help with their mental health, which is a step in the right direction.
We have been speaking to one of our graduates, Carl Jones, about his experience of training as a psychotherapist and what has happened since.
Carl, tell us a little about what led you to want to start studying psychotherapy.
I had been working in an industry that was renowned for having to be seen as masculine, I am not an alpha male but had to pretend to be someone I was not, eventually, this led to me having mental health issues and needing to leave the industry due to poor coping mechanisms (alcohol) and to seek therapy.
How did you find the training experience?
Firstly I trained at York St John University gaining a BA and then PgDip in counselling and psychotherapy, while I enjoyed the experience I felt I was not focused enough so I contacted the Ellesmere Centre and signed up for the TA101, this was exactly what I needed, I felt connected to the TA model and decided to study further, I enrolled on the full course and found the experience challenging and beneficial to my practice.
What’s happened since you graduated?
I work as a pluralistic psychotherapist with TA, neuroscience, and Existential Psychotherapy at my core, I have worked for IAPT since I graduated but for the past two years I have worked as a psychotherapist for Humberside Police and I have a thriving private practice.
What does a typical week look like for you?
Busy! I work Monday to Thursday for Humberside Police and Friday and Saturday in private practice, I do a fortnightly turnaround with most clients but once every couple of months I try to get away for a weekend.
You work both in an employed role and in private practice. Does that work well together?
Yes, I have a lot of independence working privately and I also have structure from working in paid employment, I have holiday pay and a pension from the police as well as job satisfaction in both roles, It is the perfect balance for me.
In your experience, what are the advantages of being male in a female dominated sector?
I believe the advantages are for the clients really, they get more choice as some clients will prefer to see someone of the same sex or of the opposite sex, they have choice and there is the chance to bond and in some instances, this can be a reparative process if the client has come through or is going through a toxic relationship.
Are there any disadvantages that you have found?
Not really, there are challenges for sure, I have found that trust can sometimes be difficult for some clients initially and this presents a useful challenge in how we experience the therapeutic relationship and gives us the opportunity to show authenticity.
What advice would you give to any men wanting to start a career as a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Be sensitive and acknowledge your potency in the room, work on the relationship early in therapy as this is where trust is built, training is where this can be practiced in skills groups. Also use the opportunity training offers, note the different dynamics that may be present in male & female relationships and most of all be aware and accepting of the changes in yourself as there will inevitably be some. Be yourself!
You can learn more about Carl Jones and his private practice at Carl Jones – Counselling Directory
Thank you to Carl for this wonderful insight. If you are a man or woman wanting to explore a career as a psychotherapist or counsellor, please do get in touch.