Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Developmental Relational Counseling: Applications for Counseling Men

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Developmental Relational Counseling: Applications for Counseling Men

Article excerpt

The male experience is framed by context, power, character, personalities, and relationships, which are interwoven in complex ways. Within these contexts, men navigate their professional and personal relationships with varying levels of awareness of their personal qualities and competencies, impact on others, psychological limitations, and interpersonal power and influence. This article applies the Developmental Relational Counseling (DRC) model (Duffey & Haberstroh, 2012) with men. Two de-identified case examples illustrate a counselor's work using DRC. Some details have been altered to protect client anonymity. As men develop the capacity to see others and themselves more clearly, they may become better positioned to participate in and enjoy their important relationships, using feedback, self-reflection, and a balanced self-perception.

DRC is a conceptual model designed to help clients (a) perceive themselves and others more accurately, (b) gain awareness of their degree of power and influence, and (c) deepen self-compassion and compassion for others (Duffey & Haberstroh, 2012). DRC is significantly informed by relational-cultural theory (RCT) and influenced by the Enneagram personality typology, cognitive theories, and narrative theories. We provide a review of RCT and a brief summary of how the other theories influenced the development of DRC. These summaries give context to the rationale and structure of DRC and its application with male clients. For a more thorough review of each of these theories, the reader is referred to Jordan (2010), Beck (2011), White and Epston (1990), Daniels and Price (2000), Duffey and Haberstroh (2011), Riso and Hudson (2000), and Palmer (1996).

Men in Counseling

Although men seek counseling services for myriad reasons, they tend to be less inclined to attend counseling than are women (Kakhnovets, 2011; Mahalik, Good, & Englar-Carlson, 2003). Given that some men are reluctant to seek help when experiencing distress, they are more likely to experience isolation, which may result in greater mortality and lower quality of life (Bonhomme, 2007). Reasons for male help seeking range from personal concerns; relationship issues; family dynamics; career situations; and various developmental, transitional, and, at times, debilitating crises (Mahalik et al., 2003). Although some men enter counseling voluntarily, other men do so in response to partner or family urging, or they are mandated by courts or human resource departments to attend counseling. As men navigate these experiences, many also negotiate relationships with partners, family members, coworkers, and friends (Greif, 2006).

Societal expectations of masculine self-sufficiency can complicate matters for some men (Mahalik et al., 2003), making support seeking and sharing of personal experiences challenging. At the same time, making oneself amenable to support and appropriate self-disclosure is an important aspect of deepened intimacy and increasing well-being (Uysal, Lin, Knee, & Bush, 2012). Developing these capacities is an important relational skill to explore in the counseling setting.

Counseling work with men is unique in some aspects (Good & Robertson, 2010). Counselors who effectively work with men seek to understand the unique social and cultural factors that influence masculinity (Englar-Carlson & Shepard, 2005). They work to clearly understand their male clients and their experiences (Good & Robertson, 2010). Counselors also appreciate the strengths of their male clients and the value of many socially sanctioned masculine norms (Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010), while challenging male clients to develop greater relational awareness and consideration of themselves and others (Jordan, 2010). Counselor genuineness, poise, and use of action-oriented strategies may help men assuage their preconceptions of counseling (Good & Robertson, 2010; Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010). …

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