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Fish Out of Water: Exploring the Disconnect between Masculinity and Vulnerability

  • 09/22/2023
  • 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Farmers Table 1901 N Military Trl, Boca Raton, FL 33431


Fish Out of Water: Exploring the Disconnect between Masculinity and Vulnerability

Phil Treiber, LMHC, MCAP, CCATP, NCC

The therapeutic environment is typically associated with feminine traits such as empathy, compassion, vulnerability, and open sharing of feelings and emotions. Unfortunately, these qualities may be at odds with the traditional masculine traits in our society, which emphasize strength and avoidance of vulnerability. As a result, many men struggle to engage in therapy fully and may view vulnerability as a sign of weakness.

This discomfort with vulnerability can hinder men's ability to connect with others, including their partners, children, family, friends, and therapists. It can make therapy seem like an uncomfortable and foreign environment for them. Many men are frequently perceived as, and sometimes clinically diagnosed with, narcissism. While some of them may meet the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), in other instances, this presentation may act as a coping mechanism as a result of the way males are socialized. Unfortunately, commonplace terminologies like "narcissism" and "gaslighting" have become popularized and may be inaccurately applied, causing misconceptions and aggravating relationship issues, among other harmful consequences.

To better serve male clients, therapists need to understand the factors that contribute to male identity development and the challenges men face in therapy. By taking a tailored approach, clinicians can effectively engage with men resistant to therapy and help them achieve positive outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

1.       Gain an understanding of the challenges faced by men in today's society.

2.       Identify factors that hinder emotional growth in boys and their effects in adulthood, explore the concept of masculinity, and discuss masculine gender role stress (MGRS) & normative male alexithymia (NMA).

3.       Investigate the origins of narcissism and its potential impact on male identity.

4.       Examine the concept of gaslighting and its short- and long-term effects.

5.       Evaluate and develop effective approaches for working with men in clinical settings, including culturally sensitive and clinically appropriate approaches, as well as verbal and technical methods to engage with men.

2.0 General CEU Hours

Phil Treiber, LMHC, MCAP, CCATP, NCC

Phil Trieber holds multiple licenses and certifications, including Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and Masters-level Certified Addictions Professional (MCAP) in the state of Florida, National Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP), and National Certified Counselor (NCC). He graduated Summa cum laude from Lynn University in 2020 and was the first student in the mental health counseling program to be chosen as the graduate speaker at the 2020 commencement.

During his time in school, Phil gained experience as a clinical case manager in a detox, facilitated IOP groups, and worked as an individual case manager for clients with thought disorders. He presented at a national conference and contributed to a case-study book published for undergraduate psychology students.

After graduation, Phil worked as a primary therapist at a dual diagnosis mental health/substance abuse treatment center, where he focused on substance abuse, anxiety, trauma, and severe mental health and played a key role in developing the clinical detox manual and programming. As a consultant, he helped implement the programming across multiple states during a period of expansion.

In 2022, Phil left his job and founded Dude, Breathe Counseling, a private group practice dedicated to addressing men’s mental health issues. Phil has devoted significant time and effort over the last three years to studying men's mental health. He has completed multiple trainings, conducted his own research on the topic, and crafted a distinctive approach to working with men. He has been featured on multiple podcasts speaking about men's issues and has developed a culturally competent training program for organizations. Phil has several speaking engagements and podcasts scheduled over the next six months.

Phil's ultimate goal is to spread accurate information about men's mental health struggles, break down stigmas, and encourage men to seek the help they need to overcome their challenges.

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