Many men are hesitant to join a men’s group. Sharing one’s personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings – especially the distressing ones – with virtual strangers, might seem highly awkward at best, or an exercise in emotional masochism, at worst.
Ironically, the apprehensions men feel about sitting together, stem from the very issues group work is most helpful with: a sense of isolation, shame, the need for greater support, misunderstanding key information, and other healing factors.
Despite their initial doubts, participants often find great relief from group work. Feeling supported and understood by others, hearing other men share similar struggles, experiences, and perceptions, many participants are finally able to feel connected to others, both in their struggles and successes.
Recognizing shared experiences while breaking through one’s sense of aloneness is what Dr. Irvin Yalom, the founder of Existential psychotherapy calls “universality”. This major catalyst of change in group work provides the context for learning new adaptive coping methods, expressing difficult emotions in a safe environment, and helps members build self-esteem by helping others.
Whether it be a family or community, the group is the basic unit that helps us organize ourselves and our society, orienting us to our distinct place in the world. Many men have not been adequately equipped by the various “groups” they grew up in to cope effectively with the particular challenges men face. The power of the therapeutic group can both restore and introduce those innate capacities men possess to effectively engage with their current realities while building new connections within themselves and among peers.
Men Therapy Toronto has been offering men’s group therapy since 2016 with our popular 8-week Healthy Masculinity and Sexuality Men’s Group.
Brian Moskowitz MA (Cand.) is a therapist in practicum at Men Therapy Toronto completing his Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) at Yorkville University.