Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Psychosocial Intervention with Men

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Psychosocial Intervention with Men

Article excerpt

Many recent studies have stressed the importance of a gender-specific approach to achieve positive results in the mental health field. Nonetheless, the study of men and masculinity is relatively new, particularly with regard to psychotherapeutic interventions. Based on books from Quebec and the United States and the authors' experience in the field, this article summarizes the formulation of an emerging intervention model for therapeutic work with men. The 10-Point Intervention Model is based on the following criteria: concern for gender sensitivity, awareness of invisible biases toward men, and therapist countertransferences. We note that the socialization of men shapes and impairs their help-seeking behavior and therefore therapists must develop a therapeutic model adapted to men. The model proposed in this paper enhances work with men in social service agency settings. It also poses some important challenges for individual therapists and for the mental healthcare profession.

Keywords: men in therapy, intervention model, gender sensitivity, biases toward men, countertranference, help-seeking behavior


The development of specific approaches with men in counseling settings is relatively recent. In Quebec, the first research projects began in the social-protection field, especially in helping spouses with violent behavior (Guevremont, Lajeunesse, & Rondeau, 1986; Lindsay, 1984). Interventions with violent couples are still studied intensively today. Others (Belanger & L'Heureux, 1993; Dorais, 1988; Tremblay, 1989, 1996) tried to establish a more global vision of social intervention among men, "to propose a number of directions that could serve as the basis for an intervention model that could be qualified as masculinist" and which would no longer be limited to the sole context of conjugal violence (Tremblay 1989, p. 9; authors' translation). More recently, some authors have highlighted the knowledge clinicians have acquired in working with men in recent years (see Brooks & Good, 2001; Dulac, 1997, 2001; Dulac & Groulx, 1999; Home & Kiselica, 1999; Levant & Pollack, 1995; Pollack & Levant, 1998).

These approaches, which began at the end of the 1980s, include more dynamic interactive interventions. An increasingly structured intervention model is beginning to emerge. In this paper, we describe such a model based on the theoretical work of authors from Quebec, English Canada, and the United States as well as our professional experience as therapists and trainers working with a predominantly male clientele. This proposed model is based on 10 constituent principles that are explained below.


Given its anti-oppressive tradition, the field of social work is concerned with the impact of gender on therapeutic interventions. However, this perspective has mostly been applied to interventions with women. It is well known that any efficient intervention strategy must take into account the cultural background of the client, including the influence of gender stereotypes. Otherwise, we will lose key elements of the problem (Longres & Bailey, 1979). Feminist clinicians helped us understand specific issues in counseling women, notably guilt, low self-esteem, and dependency. Working with men requires an effort to understand the effects of male and female socialization not only on the client but also on us as therapists.

Masculinity remains a social construct, a product of history and culture. It is, as Weeks (1991) described, a continuing fiction. Rather than perceiving masculinity as universal, we strongly believe that there is, in fact, a multiplicity of masculinities. All men are different, and each man actively participates in the construction of his gender identity (West & Zimmerman, 1987). Given the diversity of masculinities, we must take into account the diversity of male self-representations (Connell, 1995) by emphasizing the complexity of the male experience (Wilcox & Forrest, 1992). …

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