The new Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology (Barry et al, 2019) consists of 32 chapters from 50 authors from all over the world. The final chapter of the book summarises the elements that make for an effective therapy with men. It demonstrates that many of the features seen in hypnotherapy are ideal for men. Three of the key elements are listed below:
1/ Tailor therapy to the client’s personality
Most therapists will agree that therapy should meet the needs and capabilities of the client. An extension of this principal was created by US psychiatrist Dr Milton Erikson, who is sometimes called ‘the father of modern hypnosis’. His technique of utilisation harnessed the characteristics of the client to help make therapy more effective. The interesting thing was that he could do this even when characteristics did not appear, at first glance, to be useful to therapy. An example of how this relates to men is male-typical patterns of communication, such as banter; instead of taking a client’s banter as being a sign of avoidance of emotional contact (as many therapists might do), Erikson used what his client said and the way it was said to develop rapport and facilitate other therapeutically useful phenomena.
2/ You can take a horse to water…
Some psychologists are catching up with what Milton Erikson used to great effect in his therapy. Recent research shows that although men and women both benefit from sharing feelings, men are less inclined to want to do this. Trying to force men to talk about their feelings risks making them shut down, but talking can often be facilitated by using indirect methods, for example, starting therapy with techniques that allow men to talk without forcing them to share their feelings in a way that is uncomfortable to them. There are many ways in which this principal can be used in hypnotherapy.
3/ Focus on fixing the problem
Research shows that when men are distressed, in general they are less inclined than women to want to talk about their feelings and more inclined to want to fix their problem. This means that the traditional ‘talking cure’, with an emphasis on sharing uncomfortable feelings, may be less appealing to men than to women. In contrast, hypnotherapy is probably the most solution-focused therapy you could wish for, and usually focuses less on talking about feelings and more on fixing the problem.
To improve therapy with male clients, hypnotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors are encouraged to study Chapter 32 of the Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology & Mental Health.
Barry JA, Kingerlee R, Seager MJ and Sullivan L (Eds.) (2019). The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Liddon L, Kingerlee R, Seager M & Barry JA (2019). What are the factors that make a male-friendly therapy? in Barry JA, Kingerlee R, Seager MJ and Sullivan L (Eds.) (2019). The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health. London: Palgrave Macmillan
The Handbook (or single chapters) can be purchased here https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783030043834#aboutBook