Talk therapy is a highly effective treatment for depression, even though depression may be the last thing we ’d want to talk about.[1] A lot of men don’t like the idea of talking about feelings and emotions. That’s okay – talk therapy can still work, because there’s a lot more to depression than feelings. Thoughts, behaviours, and lifestyle issues all play a role in depression, and a skilled therapist can work with us to focus on whichever of these elements may be holding us back. Together, you and a therapist can work on developing new strategies and skills for relating better to others, coping effectively with whatever curveballs come your way, regaining a sense of control in your life, and leading a more enjoyable and satisfying life. Our HeadsUpGuys Therapist Directory can help connect you with a qualified therapist near you.
Man doing talk therapy

Talk Therapy – Consultation with a Health Professional

It’s important to keep in mind that talk therapy is different from everyday conversation. First of all, it’s confidential. Therapists have strict rules about keeping our personal information private. This can help us  to develop a sense of trust so we  can talk openly about the issues we’re facing.

Another important difference is that talk therapy happens outside our normal everyday social circle. The therapist’s opinions are solely for the purpose of helping us with our difficulties. In other words, the therapist is not there to judge or to evaluate us  in the way that sometimes happens among friends, family, co-workers, and team-members.

Finally, talk therapy provides an opportunity to consult with a trained professional who can give us  extra support, an outside perspective, and expert guidance to pinpoint the issues that contribute to our depression and work with us  to better understand and solve these issues. See our Guide to Talk Therapy for Men to learn more.

For tips on making the most of talk therapy watch Spencer’s Tip Video: Talk Therapy, Talking to a Pro and Aidan’s Tip Video, Talk Therapy Stick With It.

Common Concerns

Sometimes guys might have certain attitudes or misperceptions about therapy that get in the way of connecting with a therapist. Here are a few of the more common concerns that come up.

I can figure things out on my own

Smarts have nothing to do with it. Sometimes we need an outside perspective for a different take on what might be contributing to our depression.

The therapist will force me to talk about feelings and want me to cry

There’s a lot more to good therapy than talking about feelings. If we don’t want to talk about feelings, a therapist is certainly not going to force us to and won’t try to make us cry.

Therapy is for pointless complaining

Far from being an open forum for whining or complaining, therapy is hard work. Between figuring out what’s behind your depression, how different issues play out in certain areas of your life, and developing new skills to overcome depression and prevent its recurrence, you’ll put in a lot of hard hours.

Forms of Therapy

There are many types of therapies; so it might feel a little overwhelming to get started. Some types of therapy are more symptom-focused and teach us  techniques to reframe negative thoughts and use certain behaviours to keep our  symptoms at bay. Other types of therapy are more focused on getting at the root of our  depression, helping us  understand why we  feel a certain way, how particular issues play out in our lives  (like in relationships), and what  we can do to stay healthy.

Research on these different types of therapy indicates that no one type is best and that the theoretical model behind the therapy is much less important than the relationship between you and your therapist.[2]

Most good therapists don’t limit themselves to one specific type of therapy. Though they may have a general orientation that guides them, they’ll blend different types in order to best fit our situation.

DIFFERENT WAYS THERAPY IS PROVIDED

Therapy can be provided individually, in a group, for couples, or for whole families.

Individual therapy

Most therapy that is provided by professionals in private practice is done so individually. Here, you meet with the therapist by yourself to work on whatever issues are contributing to your depression.

Group therapy

Teams can accomplish great things. Similarly, talk therapy can be done in teamwork, in the form of group therapy. A lot of men feel uncomfortable when they first try group therapy. This feeling usually subsides as the unique benefits of group work become apparent. In fact, once they give it a go, a lot of guys discover that it’s just the thing they needed.

Couples therapy

People go to couples therapy to work on challenges in their relationship, which could be contributing to a guy’s depression. He and his partner learn how to work through their issues, communicate better, and develop relationship skills to avoid future problems.

Family therapy

A family is a team and if one person on the team is affected by something like depression, all are affected. Family therapy helps everyone work together to resolve conflicts and improve family interactions.

Therapist talking to couple

Finding a Therapist

There are several ways to find a therapist to work with, including the following:

  • Talk to family members and friends for their recommendations, especially if they have had a good experience with therapy.
  • Browse the HeadsUpGuys Therapist Directory to find a qualified therapist in your area who has experience working with men.
  • Many provincial, regional or state psychological associations operate location services that put individuals in touch with licensed clinical psychologists.
  • Ask your family physician for a referral. Tell the doctor what’s important to you in choosing a therapist so he or she can make appropriate suggestions.
  • Inquire at your place of worship.
  • Look in the phone book or on the internet for a listing of local mental health associations or community mental health centres and check these sources for possible referrals.
  • Face to face, in-person meetings, are ideal, but there are also a growing number of online counselling options available.

Ideally, we will end up with more than one lead. Call and request an initial appointment, either by phone or in person, to ask the therapist some questions. For more in-depth advice on finding and choosing a therapist, see our How to Find a Therapist page.

Man at group therapy session

Selecting a Therapist

Selecting a therapist to work with is a highly personal matter. It may take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection we have with our therapist is essential. We need someone who we can trust—someone we feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects, someone who will be a partner in our recovery. Therapy won’t be effective unless we have this bond, so take some time at the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to shop around and to ask questions when interviewing potential therapists. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We should look  for therapists who have  experience in working with the problems that  we  have on your plate.
  • We   want to make sure that the therapist we choose has been put through the paces by appropriate training programs – check for credentials and professional registration.
  • If the connection doesn’t feel right, chances are you won’t get the most out of therapy – trust your instincts here.

For more information on talk therapy and links to several articles, see our:


References:

  1. Cuijpers, P., Quero, S., Noma, H., Ciharova, M., Miguel, C., Karyotaki, E., Cipriani, A., Cristea, I., & Furukawa, T. (2021). Psychotherapies for depression: a network meta-analysis covering efficacy, acceptability, and long-term outcomes of all main treatment types. World Psychiatry, 20(2), 283- 293. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20860
  2. Wampold, B. (2015). How important are the common factors in psychotherapy? An Update. World Psychiatry, 14(3), 270-277. 10.1002/wps.20238