I’m a Counsellor……"but you’re a man!"
I don’t want to bore you with statistics that say this and say that… so I won’t. I recognise that certainly there are fewer male counsellors available and certainly there are less men accessing counselling (on paper). This is mirrored in an acute shortage of male nurses, primary school teachers, social workers and any other ‘helping role’.
Traditionally a helping profession, like counselling, fits within (contributing to stereotyping) well established views on gender defined roles. Male nurses will tell of the frequent bewilderment by those who ask what they do as a job. A role like counselling where ‘helping’ is seen as part of the role may be viewed as less attractive to men in terms of entering the counselling profession. We would like to think that we are in a more enlightened age (maybe we are), where all things being considered equal we would see more men in such roles but sadly this is not the case. The counselling world like its other counterparts struggles to attract men into the profession.
These ingrained beliefs are no different to attitudes around women in the armed forces; who up until recently were barred from frontline roles. There remain some ingrained beliefs and attitudes that persist what roles are performed by men and women. These beliefs often go hand in hand with the ‘It’s ok to talk brigade’ or the ‘women are more empathic’. This rigid thinking when unchallenged does nothing to attract men to the counselling profession and it may ultimately hinder men accessing counselling… but this is a discussion for another time.
There appears to be no quick fixes, no magic wands to what is a complex issue. The concept of gender specific roles is tangled and interwoven into the very fabric of gender itself (from a white western perspective). There are many roles that are defined by gender itself, ultimately leaving more questions than answers.