A Guide to Men’s Groups
Guest blog by Fredric E. Rabinowitz, Ph.D.
"Any men’s group that gives you space to explore who you are can be helpful."
The general theme for most men’s groups is to encourage positive psychological growth in its members. Men’s groups vary by structure, leadership, and the process by which they help men achieve their goals.
As a psychologist who has been facilitating and writing about men’s groups for the past 40 years, I will share with you the range of men’s group experiences and what you might learn from being a part of one.
There are several important elements to finding a men’s group that is best for you. The first is to know what issues, concerns, or goals you are wanting to work on.
Men’s groups can help with a variety of issues. Below are the ten most common questions that come up in my groups. If these are interesting to you, then maybe you are ready to benefit from the men’s group experience.
For a full list of questions, see end of article.
There are several different types of groups that are available to men. Below I review some of the most common types.
I run a therapeutically oriented men’s group that helps men feel more comfortable being more self-aware and expressive. Since many men tend to hide their more vulnerable selves in everyday life, just being open about anxiety, fear, desires, and frustrations can be liberating. Communication in group goes beyond talking about sports or external events. A well-run men’s therapeutic group can result in freed up energy for life activities and an expansion of the “toolbox” of interpersonal skills. In group, men can experience a sense of belonging and closeness that reduces isolation, frustration, and depression.
One of the oldest structured men’s experiences is run by an organization called “The Mankind Project.”
Its founders recognized the isolation that many men experience with each other and the tendency to rely on women in their lives to provide them with emotional support. The Mankind Project is a multi-tiered system of trainers, leaders, and members that has established itself across the world. There is a structured manual/book called Circle of Men (Kauth, 2015) that is used to provide common experiences for new members.
Unlike men’s groups run by professional therapists, a long-standing member who receives advanced training can become a group leader. Psychological growth in the Mankind Project is focused not only on establishing strong male friendships, but also on having each individual learn internal self-discipline so they can trust themselves intellectually and emotionally. By being less reliant on women, men can tap their inner strength and feel more empowered to take on tasks and personal missions in the real world.
Other men’s groups are often centered around a specific issue or concern.
Research suggests than many men have more difficulty finding friendship as they age. While informal men’s groups might occur through participation in sports such as golf, poker, or tennis, these groups do not necessarily fill the void of sharing what is really going on in one’s life.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find a men’s group, but there are some ways to try.
Importantly, you need to ask yourself what kind of experience are you seeking.
Ultimately, any men’s group that gives you space to explore who you are can be helpful.
Additional issues men’s groups can help you explore:
Dr. Fred Rabinowitz is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Redlands and a licensed psychologist in California. He also has a private psychology practice utilizing individual and group therapy that focuses on men and male issues. His latest book is Deepening Group Psychotherapy with Men (2019) published by the American Psychological Association. He is a past President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities of the American Psychological Association.