Why do men rarely seek treatment for traumatic experiences?


The usual generalized responses about "male culture" are critical and insulting, portraying men as shame-filled fakes, who are fearful of emotion. The truth may lie closer to the differences in which men and women approach problem-solving--something I have learned as a marriage therapist--as therapists are overwhelmingly female (I was one of two men in my graduating class as an LMFT).

Let me tell you what I mean. Perhaps many female therapists want to focus on insight and exploration of emotions, when what men want is solutions to problems. With traumatic experiences, I can see how the dynamic might be amplified. The pain just needs to go, after so many years, and examining emotions closely usually just makes things worse. This is like a doctor testing the range of motion on a broken leg (which is true for men or women). There are times for that, but trauma is different.

EMDR therapy for trauma offers solutions rather than endless talk, usually *fast* solutions. Rather than re-hashing memories, EMDR activates the brain's natural processing power to place traumatic memories in the past, removing flashbacks, anxiety, irritability, intrusive thoughts, and many other common symptoms.

Furthermore, there is no "numbing" involved--the EMDR client keeps the good memories and trashes the traumatic ones. Many soldiers in particular are troubled by the thought that healing their symptoms will prevent them from honoring their fallen friends' memories, and with EMDR it doesn't have to be like that.

Men, you don't have to live with these things. Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, irrational anger, shame--all of this can be healed. You're not unusual. More men than you know have had traumatic experiences in childhood. About one in five boys has been sexually abused, and many more have been physically abused or chronically shamed. Even if on the surface you've "put your traumatic experiences in the past" without resolving them, chances are that's why you're so irritable, anxious, and have difficulty in your relationships.

If you are done wasting time on the past, it's time to see a trauma therapist. EMDR therapists generally work the same way, but many men find it easier to speak to another man. If that is the case, contact me by phone, email, or with the contact form on this site's homepage.