Challenging Gender Preference

Gender preference while seeking a therapist is common. As a male provider, I’ll share my experience working with preadolescent girls, teens, young adults and adult women. Women who prefer female counselors often feel uncomfortable with the idea of disclosing personal information to a man. It is also common that if a woman holds a strong preference for a female counselor it is due to some type of trauma or adverse experience that was perpetrated by a male at some point in their life.Such adverse experiences at any age often cause symptoms including mistrust, anxiety, depression, low self-worth, avoidance and intrusive memories. Relational problems and marital conflict are also common symptoms, as well as interference with social and workplace milieus. These symptoms often lead to mental health counseling.


When searching for a provider women often automatically search for a female. However, paradoxically, the first and oftentimes most therapeutic intervention for a woman fitting this profile is to make the uncomfortable and brave decision to engage in mental health counseling with a male. In so doing, an opportunity to develop trust and rapport with a male in a safe setting and with strong therapeutic boundaries provides an important intervention in and of itself.

Over time, clients learn that their broad belief about men as being unsafe, whether they are acutely aware of it or not, is outdated and adversely impacts their emotional and relational wellbeing. The formation of trust and rapport with a male marks the beginning of an internal shift. Through the process of rapport, disclosure and cognitive behavioral techniques female clients learn why their internal message about men is negative. They can then begin to reframe their thoughts and feelings which leads to a reduction of symptoms. A therapeutic relationship with a male provides an important therapeutic intervention that can lead to real change. The challenge of course is making that first brave step. My current clientele consists of approximately 65% women.

An important caveat is that if you feel that the emotional risk associated with working with a male therapist outweighs the potential benefits, vis-a-vis that you feel with some degree of certainty that it could cause re-traumatization, I would advise that you seek a female counselor. I am happy to provide referrals. For the rest of you, I would encourage you to honestly examine yourself and your discomfort. Do you feel uncomfortable, nervous or shy? This is normal and I encourage you to challenge your gender preference.

Mental health counseling can be hard. It requires openness, vulnerability and commitment. Part of the process may include challenging your gender preference.

Speak Your Mind


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Homer, AK 99603
(907) 602-2578

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