Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Introduction to the Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy/Introduction Au Numéro Spécial De la Revue Canadienne De Counseling et De Psychothérapie

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Introduction to the Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy/Introduction Au Numéro Spécial De la Revue Canadienne De Counseling et De Psychothérapie

Article excerpt

This special issue of the Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (CJCP) is dedicated to articles focused on men. We have chosen this topic not because men are more deserving of a special issue than women. Neither have we picked it because the term "men" has any inherent simplistic meaning in Canadian society's diverse understanding and enactment of gender, biological sex characteristics, and sexuality. As guest editors, we live and work: in academic environments that cause us to aspire to understand the soeiocultural notions and constructions of what it means to "be a man." We have written this editorial as a call to action in the service of men in Canada and abroad, based on over 14 years of working with men in groups and individually in our clinical practices. It is with only slight setf-consciousness that we offer readers our perspectives* realizing that we hold but two opinions in a sea of many. If this issue stimulates conversations in clinical practice, as well as research and theory in our profession, then we have moved closer to our goal: to help the many men in our society who suffer iu silence, despite the available counselling and therapeutic services meant to assist them.

Until our goal is reached, however, the counselling profession is failing men. Not all men, and not in any gross or negligent way, but failing them j ust the same. As counsellors, we learn how to work with many different client populations as part of our multicultural practice and diversity training, yet the male client (man and boy) is one subcultural group that has not been well served by our profession. Compared to women, men still kill themselves more often, are incarcerated at higher rates, and drastically under utilize the helping professions that are meant to, ostensibly, assist them with the problems and troubles that plague them.

TRADITIONAL MALE SOCIALIZATION AND THERAPY

Over the last 14 years, we have worked extensively with Canadian military men - a population that reflects a common set of masculine attitudes and reactions to seeking and receiving help from counsellors and therapists. In terms of male culture, military men are perched atop the hierarchy of socially traditional notions of what it means to be a man. They are highly trained, highly skilled individuals who know how to kill people, shoot guns, blow stuff up, drive tanks, and defend those who cannot defend themselves. Many of the men with whom we have worked would never have darkened the door of an individual therapists office to deal with their "issues." The common reasons cited often sound something akin to "I'm not crazy," "That's for people who can't handle their shit," "I'm not weak," or "What the fuck good will it do to talk about things that can't be changed?" Unfortunately, these kinds of perceptions and reactions are not limited to the military. In fact, they are shared by traditionally gender-socialized male clients across all careers, family backgrounds, and ethnicities throughout Canada.

In reading the above, it may seem somewhat anachronistic to speak of "traditional masculinity" in such a pluralist and multicultural society as Canada. It is our experience, however, that there still exists a traditional masculinity within the multiple interpretations and experiences of men in our society. Unfortunately, this traditional masculinity can often be seen as synonymous with "less refined," "less evolved," and "out of touch" with the "way thing: are" in a relativistic society.

We instead offer the idea that traditional masculinity is complex, nuanced, and not well understood by our profession. We also offer here that there are both healthy and pathological expressions of every identity formation, including traditional masculinity. It is beyond the scope of this editorial to examine in any detail the literature on masculinity and maleness, but we would direct readers to authors such as Warren Farrell and Ken Wilber to explore more explicit treatments of the topic of traditional male socialization and its expressions. …

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