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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