I find that men are sometimes more reluctant than women to enter a therapeutic relationship, so I am writing to encourage you if you feel you would like to give therapy a try, but are also a bit nervous about the prospect.  Your reluctance is understandable; women generally find it easier to experience their feelings and and also naturally share these feelings with others much more frequently than men do.

This was actually born out in research done by John Gottman on couples in conflict. He observed couples in various conversations while their physiological reactions such as blood pressure and pulse were monitored moment to moment. Observing the men’s reactions, he found that as soon as there was any hint of emotional conflict, the physiological indicators associated with panic reactions rose sharply and stayed at the new level, indicating experiences of sustained panic as long as the conflict was not resolved.  On the other hand, the women’s profiles, stayed relatively flat well into the discussion until there was overt conflict (raised voices, etc.). In other words, when you get defensive during emotional encounters you might be doing so as a way to cope with panic, while at the same time trying to appear strong and in control, as you have been taught men are supposed to do. 

Learning about this has helped me appreciate more of what it is like for men to be in therapy and to be more sensitive to their experiences of self-exploration.

If you are thinking about starting therapy, please feel free to call to discuss this further. My office is in Walnut Creek and you can reach me at (925) 948-0562. If I do not answer in person, please leave a message and I will call you back shortly. You may also email me at therapy@susanberger.net.