Research has shown a man’s life is significantly affected by their work. Rochlen et al., 2012, identified how men’s choice of career and their job success impacts their sense of self-worth, and identity.
Men with gender-role strain (Pleck, 1981, 1995) report greater career counselling stigma, decreased willingness to engage in career counselling and greater needs for self-clarity, career information, and assistance with career indecisiveness (O’Neil, 2008; Rochlen, Blazina, & Raghunathan, 2002; Rochlen & O’Brien, 2002).
An alignment to rigid masculine identities and gender-role conflict is predictive of an overall reluctance of men to seek treatment of any kind, including work related problems (Rochlen & O’Brien, 2002; O’Neil, 2008). Further, over-identification with work success as a masculine ideal may contribute to a pervasive number of inter- and intrapersonal problems some men face (O’Neil, 2008).
It would seem that work is important for men because, through work, men make sense of who they are, what their role in their community is and what their lives mean. In addition, men who identify with traditional masculine ideals seem to need help and information about how to achieve their occupational goals but their adherence to masculine ideologies predicts a reluctance to access help (O’Neil, 2008; Rochlen, Blazina, & Raghunathan, 2002; Rochlen & O’Brien, 2002).
DBT is an excellent resource for clients who want to focus on the management of symptoms and the development of skills as an emphasis in therapy.
Here is a link to a great presentation, explaining the basics of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) in a very relatable and accessible way:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT Made Simple: Counselor Toolbox Podcast with Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
For many individuals, this is a very significant and helpful way of addressing self-harm, emotional dysregulation, suicidality, and significant relationship challenges which arise from highly conflictive and intense emotional states. DBT maintains it can be helpful for individuals who have some emotional vulnerabilities such as more frequent, intense and longer emotional reactions than others as well as those who have difficulty regulating emotion by identifying, labeling, understand and expressing emotions. It offers inter and intra personal skills training through mindfulness and developing intrapersonal effectiveness.
There are other treatment options, and research has found that mentalization based treatments and developmental trauma treatment strategies can be more effective at resolving the underlying causes of these reactions and symptoms rather than skills development and symptom management which is usually the focus of DBT.
Metaphorically, the symptom management is like trying to keep several beach balls under water all at the same time. We can work at it and get better at it but just managing the symptoms won’t release the pressure of coping with emotional dysregulation or interpersonal triggers of defensive survival strategies.
DBT is often experienced by individuals as a skill development and symptom management approach. It helps a lot and is a very important part of any treatment.
Yet, by addressing the underlying condition and the cause or source of the symptoms and resolving those issues – if we can let some of the air out of the beach balls. In other words, resolving takes some of the emotional energy out the reactions. The less energy we to use keep symptoms managed and under control and resolution of the triggers can be very liberating. This is the focus of trauma treatment and Mentalization Based Treatment.
By getting to the source of the underlying causes of emotional dysregulation, suicidality and reactivity, there can be such a psychological shift and release, that the energy is redirected from the symptoms towards greater internal wellbeing.
This maturation and healing can lead to a greater degree of meaning and life satisfaction as we engage in moving through our life’s journey with an increasing degree of satisfaction, maturity and completeness.
So, whether the objective is skill development, symptom reduction, or healing and facilitation of core change, both approaches are important and have varying degrees of interconnectedness.
Each person has the freedom, and the responsibility, to engage where they can most effectively engage in the process of change.
To learn more about therapy options visit my web site at
The art of building and maintaining a civilization is by one civil act at a time by each citizen.
Compassion, empathy, and dignity are the foundation of good morality and are much more human than moral indignation.
How to work with the relationships that Matter (your inner circle):
Enjoy the opportunities to build depth into relationships with the people you see most.
Find the things that draw you together. What are your shared interests? What makes a person a member of your inner circle? Build on those meaningful shared activities or values that bind you together. Review your history and find and emphasize the things which have made you close in the past.
Try a new activity together (a game, a meal, a recipe, a movie) something you agree to try together, just to try for fun.
Talk honestly and meaningfully about how the pandemic is affecting, or has affected, you and the people around you. Listen (without fixing) to each other’s real reactions and experiences without giving advice or making judgements.
Dare to have difficult conversations with people that matter to you.
Avoiding tough conversations is not a solution but only exacerbates a tension or conflict. It creates distance, which can be desired if the relationship isn’t that important, but if it is an important relationship, distance can erode the relationship.
How to have a conversation that matters.
Pick a shared time and place to have a conversation that works for both people. Talking about sensitive or important topics while multi-tasking or during stressful moments may dispose the conversation to derail. Collaboratively picking a time place that works for both sets the tone for a conversation.
Have a clearly defined issue or topic to discuss and stick with it. As preparation for the conversation, see if you can write a one-sentence description of the topic you want to discuss. Ask the person to help you stick to that topic and let them know that you are open to discuss other issues with them but for this conversation you really want to stick to this topic.
Use the “I” voice to describe the topic and see if you can start most of your sentences with a ‘I” instead of a “you”. For example, instead of “you are so irresponsible”. Try saying “I feel like lots of responsibility is falling on me”. Or instead of “you always hurt me”. Try saying, “I have been feeling hurt when….” If you can reframe your language to the “I” voice, it will help you take responsibility for what is your real feelings and it will help your listener be less defensive because it sounds less accusatory.
Start by asking the person to do their best to listen and work with you to help you accurately express what you are trying to say. Reassure them that once you are finished you are very interested in their response. Tell them you are going to work to own you experience by speaking from the “I voice” and ask them, as best they can, to do the same. Once you are finished, ask them to repeat what they heard you say to see if you were clear and to give you the opportunity to clarify or correct miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Once you are clearly understood, ask the other person to respond and do your best to listen. If they get off-topic, remind them that you are very interested in talking about anything, but right now it is important if they can stay with the topic. Listen and reflect for clarity and understanding.
Once they feel understood respond again in the “I voice.” Once the topic is clear, see if you can brainstorm together and even write possible solutions down, perhaps on a whiteboard, so that you can just throw ideas on it for working through what you both think would work.
Consider any agreement as an experiment to try and revisit at an agreed-upon time to see if it helped address the issue.
Working with retail workers or people in publicplaces
Make eye contact and see the person. See if you can communicate warmth with your eyes because most of your face is covered.
See them as someone worthy of dignity who may be struggling with things you don’t know.
Treat them as you would want to be treated. Be cooperative and polite. Try not to take out your own fears or frustrations on them because they are just trying to do a job in a very difficult situation.
Do your best to recognize they may have had a tough day and have been treated very poorly by someone just before talking to you.
Kindness is Free
Kindness is free but a wonderful gift that is always apricated even when it is slow to be realized.
Oprah Winfrey and psychiatrist, Dr. Bruce Perry a, renowned psychiatrist and expert in the field of childhood trauma), bring the effects of trauma on children and their subsequent behaviours as adults, into the limelight with a shift in thinking, and the release of their new book, “What Happened To You”?
“What’s wrong with you” to “What Happened to you”: One of the most important things this shift in the frame of reference does, is to remove the judgement, allowing a place of understanding to form around what the trauma was to a child, and how it then impacted their behaviour as an adult.
Dr. Perry explains “the experiences you have when you are growing up, both good and bad, shape the biology of your brain and that sets you up for the way you see the world, the way you process experience, the way you interact with other people, the way you manage the physiology of your heart, your gut and your lungs.” These experiences then have impacts on our physical, mental, and social health. This is particularly true if the experiences are “toxic,” Dr. Perry notes. These elements affect also if we grow up with a sense of personal worthiness.
When Dr. Perry references trauma, he is actually referring to “an experience that can literally influence the way your stress response systems work and as a result, have a long-term impact on the person. The experience itself is not necessarily the trauma,” indicates Dr. Perry. People have different abilities to manage a traumatic event. One person may have long term effects to a trauma and the other may recover with little issue.
Why is it possible for someone to have minimal effects when exposed to trauma? Dr. Mike Dadson states, ”This relates to a person’s ability to manage a stress event. The first two months are key in the development of your stress response systems”. If there is chaos, threats, adverse events, or ongoing stress, the “biological development of your brain changes,” Dr. Perry identifies.
“When we look at kids who have lots of adversity with few relational supports, they have a worse outcome than kids who have a good few months and experience all kinds of wonderful things”, Dr. Perry states.
Dr. Mike Dadson explains, “When the first two months of a child’s life involve inconsistent, unpredictable life experiences, they are more susceptible and fragile than a child who has a stable background, which allows them to have a higher stress coping baseline, enabling them to return to normal much faster than a child who did not have the same stability”.
Click the link for more on this revealing interview with Dr. Perry’s insights on resilience and healing.
Further, in a recent news release, The University of Alberta announces the findings of their ground breaking new study, showing that “traumatic or stressful events in childhood may lead to tiny changes in key brain structures that can now be identified decades later.” While it has been well known for some time that adverse events or maltreatment in childhood in the early years puts them at risk for other mental health conditions, the study is the first to confirm changes to the brain.
According to Neuroscience news, “The resting brain repeatedly and rapidly replays faster memories of what a person has recently learned and practiced. The more a person replays the memory during rest, the better they become during subsequent sessions where they practice their newly learned skill.“