The Power of Choosing a Male Therapist: Breaking Stereotypes and Finding Healing by David Norman, Clinical Psychologist

Ilze GroblerPsychology, Uncategorized

Embarking on the journey of seeing a psychotherapist can feel overwhelming. It involves sharing deeply personal experiences and finding someone who can create a safe space for exploration. We often consider factors like age, cultural background, and the ability to feel understood and supported. But have you ever thought about the role that gender plays in this decision?

Client Gender

Let’s talk about male clients. When it comes to seeking mental health support, statistics show that females are more likely than males to consult with a health professional. Research conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020-2022) found that 21.6% of females sought help for their mental health, compared to only 12.9% of males. This aligns with other studies that suggest males are less inclined to seek help for their mental well-being (Black & Gringart, 2019).

Why is this the case? One significant factor is the stereotype that men should be able to cope on their own and that expressing emotions or seeking help is considered “weak” (Sagar-Ouriaghli et al., 2017). Men often prefer quick-fix solutions and may not see extended “talking” therapy as an immediate solution. This mindset can lead to unknowingly neglecting symptoms of mental health issues, such as chronic tiredness, irritability, lack of interest, or thoughts of hopelessness, which could be signs of depression. Furthermore, instead of seeking professional help, men experiencing depression tend to resort to avoidant coping behaviours like substance use, social withdrawal, or distraction (Wilson et al., 2022).

Unfortunately, these coping strategies can lead to further problems in relationships, work, or even result in suicide. Shockingly, of the approximately nine people who die by suicide in Australia every day, over 75% are males (ABS, 2022). Moreover, men who experience suicidal ideation are less likely to seek mental health services (Hom, Stanley, & Jonier, 2015). Therapy can offer valuable support to anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Breaking Stigmas: Understanding the Essence of Therapy

Changing males’ perceptions about going to therapy can clearly be challenging. But it can help to gain a better understanding of what it means to go to therapy. 

First and foremost, think of a therapist as a specialized professional you turn to when things become challenging, just like a physiotherapist, dentist, or optometrist. Our brain, thoughts, beliefs, and interactions with the outside world are intertwined in complex ways. Sometimes, things go wrong, and seeking the expertise of a therapist becomes crucial for support and guidance.

Secondly, understanding the therapy process can also alleviate concerns. Typically, the first session involves sharing your issues while the therapist asks questions to delve deeper into what is happening. The therapist then collaborates with you to identify and define clear goals for therapy. Over subsequent sessions, the therapist draws on their training and experience to provide you with concepts, techniques, and a private space to better understand and manage your difficulties. Therapy may involve education, conversation, or developing strategies to practice during and between sessions. Ultimately, therapy concludes when the goals are sufficiently addressed, leaving you equipped with tools to navigate life moving forward.

Therapist Gender and the Choice of a Therapist

The gender of a therapist can also influence the therapeutic journey. Factors such as age, cultural background, or therapy style all come into play when choosing a therapist. The gender of a therapist can be especially important in providing a sense of safety, feeling heard, and receiving effective help. It’s a matter of personal choice. Research published in Counselling Psychology Quarterly (Seidler et al., 2022) revealed that men who saw a therapist of their preferred gender reported higher treatment satisfaction.

Potential factors that could influence the choice of therapist of one gender over another include:

  • Gender stereotypes, for example, that females are more empathetic, or talk-focused, whereas males are more practical and solution-focused. Even if there is some truth to this, it’s worth remembering that the stereotype does not hold for every therapist.
  • It may be helpful to get the perspective of a therapist with the same gender.
  • It may be helpful to get the perspective of a therapist with a different gender.
  • You may feel more comfortable to talk about specific topics with a therapist who has a certain gender. 
  • You may get validation from a male therapist that it is ok to express your feelings. 
  • You may be able to experience a therapeutic relationship with a therapist of a particular gender that helps to heal wounds from historical or current relationship difficulties with a person of a particular gender. 

If you’re considering therapy, take the above factors into account, including the gender of potential therapists. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to start with one therapist and decide to change to another if it better aligns with your mental health journey.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2020-2022). National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing. ABS. Retrieved from:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022). Causes of Death, Australia. ABS. Retrieved from:

Black, S. C., & Gringart, E. (2019). The relationship between clients’ preferences of therapists’ sex and mental health support seeking: An exploratory study. Australian Psychologist, 54(4), 322–335. [Abstract]. doi: 10.1111/ap.12370

Hom M. A., Stanley I. H., & Jonier T. E., Jr. (2015). Evaluating factors and interventions that influence help-seeking and mental health service utilization among suicidal individuals: A review of the literature. Clinical Psychology Review40, 28–39. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2015.05.006.

Sagar-Ouriaghli I., Godfrey E., Bridge L., Meade L., & Brown J.S.L. Improving mental health service utilization among men: A systematic review and synthesis of behavior change techniques within interventions targeting help-seeking. (2019). Am J Mens Health,13(3):1557988319857009. doi: 10.1177/1557988319857009. PMID: 31184251; PMCID: PMC6560805.

Seidler, Z. E., Wilson, M. J., Kealy, D., Oliffe, J. L., Ogrodniczuk, J. S., & Rice, S. M. (2022). Men’s preferences for therapist gender: Predictors and impact on satisfaction with therapy. Counselling Psychology Quarterly35(1), 173–189.

Wilson MJ, Seidler ZE, Oliffe JL, et al. (2022). “Appreciate the Little Things”: A Qualitative Survey of Men’s Coping Strategies and Mental Health Impacts During the COVID-19 Pandemic. American Journal of Men’s Health16(3). doi:10.1177/15579883221099794

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