Should Therapists be Sensitive to The Gender of Their Clients? My Research Suggests that they Should.
Men and women can respond differentially to some types of medication (e.g. depression treatment; Bigos et al, 2009) in part due to naturally different levels of sex hormones. Psychologists, however, tend to overlook potential gender differences in the needs of their clients when it comes to talking therapies, and although we are much better these days at recognising the needs of people according to their sexuality and gender identity, we are much slower at recognising the gendered needs of the typical client. Even researchers tend to be ‘gender blind’, and usually fail to report the outcome of psychological treatment by gender (Parker et al, 2011). However, when researchers are sensitive to gender differences, they sometimes find very important issues e.g. Wright & MacLeod (2016) found that the long-term benefits of counselling for work-related problems in 305 clients were significantly better for women than men. This suggests that even the best stress management programme might need more than a ‘one size fits all’ approach for men and women.
A well-established gender difference is that women, in general, tend to focus on emotions as a coping strategy more than men do (e.g. Tamres et al, 2002; Russ et al, 2016), and men tend to want more of a quick fix to the problem (Holloway et al, 2018). Experienced hypnotherapists tend to notice these differences (Lemkey et al, 2017), and thus can be more gender-sensitive in their application of strategies and techniques.
At the end of the day, everyone is different, and there are more similarities than differences between men and women. But like other gender-sensitive therapists, I am alert to using approaches that are most likely to work best for my clients. This doesn’t mean that all men get treatment X, and all women get treatment Y, it just means that I am aware that men might prefer a faster solution with minimal discussion of their feelings, whereas for women talking about their feelings might be an important part of the process.
Give me a call and find out how I can help you with your particular issue.
Bigos, K. L., Pollock, B. G., Stankevich, B. A., & Bies, R. R. (2009). Sex differences in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of antidepressants: an updated review. Gender Medicine, 6(4), 522-543.
Holloway K, Seager M, & Barry JA (2018). Are clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors overlooking the needs of their male clients? Clinical Psychology Forum, July edition
Leiya E Lemkey, Belinda Brown, John A Barry (2016). Should we be more sensitive to the different therapeutic needs of men and women in clinical hypnosis? Findings from a pilot study. Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy & Hypnosis.
Parker, G., Blanch, B., & Crawford, J. (2011). Does gender influence response to differing psychotherapies by those with unipolar depression? Journal of Affective Disorders, 130(1), 17-20
Russ, S., Ellam-Dyson, V., Seager, M., & Barry, J. A. (2015). “I hate generalising, but…”. Coaches’ views on differences in treatment style for male and female clients. New Male Studies, 4(3).
Tamres, L. K., Janicki, D., & Helgeson, V. S. (2002). Sex differences in coping behaviour: A meta-analytic review and an examination of relative coping. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6(1), 2-30
Wright, K. J., & McLeod, J. (2016). Gender differences in the long-term outcome of brief therapy for employees. New Male Studies, 5(2).Tags: fight or flight, hormones, medical, meta-analysis, relaxation, stress management program, UCL, University College London