May 18, 2023
“When I found out…I said to my husband – ‘oooh, I’ve been assigned a man’!”
“Oh!” He replied. “How do you feel about that then?”
Fortunately for me, that particular client didn’t mind, and we went on to have a positive and fruitful therapeutic alliance. However, some seem to struggle with the idea of speaking to a man about their troubles. And being one (a man, that is) I wondered why. Why are people reluctant to talk to me?
I mean I am fully qualified and increasingly more and more experienced. Do I have an extra head or something? Or is it my fashion sense? (Always a possibility…)
Social stigma is the act of disapproving or discriminating against someone, or a group of people, based on features such as culture, gender, race and more.
Being a male therapist can be an interesting source of some cognitive dissonance. After all, gender stereotypes suggest that we men are supposed to be the strong and silent types. We hide our feelings. We don’t cry. It is often regarded as a weakness for men to do so. Given that description, it’s easy to see how some may believe that a man would not have the necessary empathic powers, that ability to understand and even feel the emotions of another in distress.
What would a white male like me know about dealing with the effects of prejudice or serious sexual assaults, if it comes to that?
I think a lot of people would think it’s understandable for a client seeking help after rape, for example, to want to see a female therapist. Seeing a male therapist might be too triggering for them.
But just imagine what a fully compassionate male therapist, who models a different kind of man for that client, can do to help them heal. The message that not all men are like that can have a massive cathartic effect for the survivor.
Change is upon us. I’ve noticed more recently that attitudes are changing that reduce the stigma associated with male therapists and men’s mental health in general.
You may have seen the Prince of Wales talking to well-known male football personalities on the television whilst they all agree that “it’s good to talk” (for members of both biological sexes and all genders).
Less well known, but just as significant from this point of view, is the work of British psychologist Paul Gilbert, who has researched and written at length about the healing power of compassion and developed his own therapeutic methodology, Compassion Focused Therapy. You may even have seen his bestseller, “The Compassionate Mind”, in your local bookshop.
No. I don’t think so - I think he’s always been there.
Compassion comes from life experience. From enduring distress of your own and having the desire to help another person in distress.
But not only that, for men it comes from having the wisdom, intelligence, or just sheer determination, to break through whatever blocks we may have on displaying and giving freely our compassion and understanding - being that they are the typical macho stereotypes or those who see compassion as a weakness.
Here’s the good news though: compassion isn’t a weakness. Kindness is a strength.
When the Cure sang “Boys Don’t Cry” back in 1979, they were being tongue in cheek! We do cry, and in my experience, there really is no better feeling than when that compassionate link between the two of us sparks the magic of healing. It’s something that neither of us will forget. Furthermore, I know that we men are finding our compassionate voices, rediscovering our compassionate instincts.
Disclaimer: This article has been designed for entertainment and informational purposes; it is not personalised medical advice. This guide may be a useful read to generate some ideas, however, please take advice from a medical professional.
Such a fantastic place. Super friendly and understanding team. Got an appointment really quickly. Such a calm and relaxing space. Thank you!
Liz was great, can't recommend Head Agenda enough! I went for 12 weeks in total and I feel like it has really got me back on track from the place that I was. Thank you!
Covers by Tom
Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Debbie here at Head Agenda! She has been absolutely amazing in getting me through what felt like a million and one problems when I first went in. I truly came to think of her as a friend and felt her genuine care and want to help me. I always came away from every session feeling lighter and much more positive and she's always been so friendly, sensitive and incredibly relatable. She has guided me through an extremely difficult time in my life and got me through and out of that dark tunnel.
The rooms were always comfortable and inviting and always made me feel at ease to talk
Thank you so much again, Debbie you're an absolute star!
I have had a few sessions with Debra. When I arrived for my first session she made me feel very comfortable and the session just flew by. Debbie really took the time to understand what I was saying and made me feel like she really wanted to help me through my problems. She has gone over and above expectations, supporting me through a very big decision. The rooms are very relaxing and comfortable and there is barely any noise from outside. I would fully recommend having sessions with Debra. She has really opened up my eyes to the reasons of why I feel the way I do and ways to try and reduce those feelings.
I honestly can't recommend Head Agenda enough. When I first enquired by email the response was prompt, professional and clear. I was very quickly assigned to Jane Hickson, who agreed to work with me flexibly around my work schedule. Although I didn't have many sessions, i can honestly say that attending counselling with Jane has changed my life considerably. She really helped me work things out. She was professional, yet kind the whole time. Also, the rooms and surroundings are very comfortable and calming.
Great service, really easy to find a therapist to match your needs - spoke to Amanda who was super friendly and made the whole process really painless - thank you!
I could not recommend Caroline at Head Agenda enough. I was very hesitant when it came to therapy but Caroline had provided me with the confidence to speak about my issues, no matter how big or small. She has constantly treated me with grace and respect, I am very grateful for her.
Interesting, insightful and has been no end of help for my self improvement. Can't thank these lot enough. I feel much more confident and optimistic going forward and it’s down to Mark and the Head Agenda team.
This was my first experience with counselling. I was always reluctant to seek help for whatever reason. With recent health issues I felt that it was the 'icing on the cake' and I needed help. Then I met the wonderful Debbie at Head Agenda. She has guided me more than I ever thought possible. She has helped me see what's truly important and helped me breakdown understand what once felt like big mess in my head! She has taught me so much and I can finally say, today, that I am ready to use her kind words and advice and see how I get on alone. I know she is always there though if I need her one day. I now feel I am strong enough, all thanks to Debbie.
Thank you so much, Deb! You've been an angel x
After years of been in and out of therapy I was sceptical about trying it again, I went in expecting to be disappointed. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The knowledge, empathy and approach Mandy took to with me was something i'd never experienced before. I actually feel excited to start a new chapter of my life and I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for Head Agenda.
I came to see Mandy in autumn 2019 for some CBT to deal with my anxiety which at times spiralled out of control for weeks/months at a time. Mandy was great, in the end doing a combination of both therapy and CBT to explore where the anxiety had come from, as well as how to put it back in its box. She was great at challenging me, which is just what I needed. An immediate affect was feeling significantly less nervous about flying. I now find myself in week 5 of the UK COVID lockdown, a time that is causing anxiety for so many people, and able to cope. Yes, I have felt anxious (who hasn’t!!), but it has been for a maximum of an hour or two, and not endless. I can highly recommend Head Agenda. Thank you.
I was lucky enough to be helped by Mark. I can't find any fault with him. He made me feel comfortable from the get-go. Professional but personable, paid more attention to what I was saying than I did! He seems very intelligent but not at all condescending. If you have any issues you would like to talk through, I would recommend Mark 100%.
Counselling will start this week but my initial contact with Head Agenda has been great. Lovely friendly reply to my initial email enquiry, followed by a phone call from Amanda who was very easy to talk and was very reassuring and helpful with all my questions and concerns.
I found Head Agenda through another website which recommended therapists. I have used Head Agenda for roughly 6 months and it has been a transformative experience. My therapist was professional, kind, understanding and helpful with making changes and seeing things in a new way. I can't recommend the experience enough.
Daniel was kind and helpful to my family member . Gave strategies to help with stress and anxiety that can use . Liked the practical exercises and has kept the list he made at his final sessions to remind him of all the positive things they talked about
I've been seeing June for a while now. I have tried a number of therapies and therapists over the years, but have never really felt heard or understood. I am able to be my authentic self with June, without any fear of judgement or embarrassment. She has an amazing way of challenging my thoughts, in a gentle way, but enough so to allow me to start to reconsider my own thoughts and feelings. She has already had a big impact on my life, and I cannot recommend her highly enough!
The office is lovely and calming, the other staff are always helpful and polite.
100% recommend Head Agenda!
Have had wonderful, sensitive support from Debra, who has helped me learn to take time to sit with my own grief rather than be present 100% of time for others. She made the sessions relaxed, and I will be getting in touch if there are more bumps in my road further down the line. Thank you.
My experience with Head Agenda has been liberating for me! I would recommend anyone that’s thinking of getting help to look no further.
Highly recommended! One of the best investments of my life. A very friendly, kind and professional team. The atmosphere of the place is also great: very calm and relaxing. I went to try CBT and after a few sessions, it worked! I am happier and know myself much better now. I will always be grateful! Thank you, Mandy.
Head Agenda has been brilliant for me whilst going through a turbulent time in my life. Mark has been amazing. Calm, kind, professional, a complete expert who helps you work through anything whilst providing you with a range of tools you can use. He increases your self awareness and does it with such a positive reassuring presence that lets you feel relaxed and confident to talk to him. Can't recommend Mark and Head Agenda highly enough.
Jonathan at Head Agenda was absolutely fantastic. I felt very comfortable throughout. Really positive experience.
Debra has been absolutely wonderful in helping me understand my mental health. She’s made me feel so calm and relaxed in sessions. Couldn’t recommend her enough!
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Debbie who I had many sessions with earlier this year. At first I was very hesitant but was by far was the best decision I have made and I am now in a place I could have only dreamt to be in a year ago. I could not recommend Debbie highly enough and genuinely want to thank her from the bottom of my heart.
I've just finished my last session with my therapist - Debbie, and I can't thank her enough for helping me through a difficult time in my life and seeing the light. I was very apprehensive at first, I've never had counselling before and I was in denial about my problem. But speaking to Debbie is one of the best things I've done, she is friendly, caring and it felt natural talking to her, and she gave me the tools I need to help get better. Very easy booking through Head Agenda, would highly recommend.
Fantastic service and help through some tough times. Natalie has been wonderful over these last few months.
Debra was very kind and understanding, she gave considerate and constructive advice, we cannot thank her enough for all that she did to help!
Head Agenda were great, and really helped me with my issues. The space was great quiet and private it did not feel intimidating. My therapist Jonathan, took the time to understand my problems and was really helpful and easy to approach. Would recommend.
First ever experience with counselling for myself, and it has helped my tenfold. Would recommend to anyone.
I can't begin to describe how incredible Darren has been in helping me with my mental health. He enabled me to respect and love myself for the first time in a very long time. I have come a long way since starting my sessions and I will be forever grateful to Darren for facilitating my process of healing. I highly recommend Darren and Head Agenda!
I am glad I went to Head Agenda, great staff and Mark was really helpful and friendly. If you are unsure about going to see anyone then maybe just book an appointment and discuss it with them. Even if you think you are mentally strong there is always room for improvement. I feel like Mark has helped me find the right path to go forward in my life. I would recommend this company :)
Excellent service. Really useful. Helped a lot. Thanks
I went to Head Agenda to try to tackle my severe anxiety. My therapist Jonathan was really helpful and kind and I now feel more equipped to manage my mental health. The space is calming and welcoming. I would recommend Head Agenda to anyone who is suffering and who needs professional support.
I've been seeing Mandy for a year now and she has transformed my life. I can't thank her enough. Having seen numerous therapists over the years I've never found anyone so effective. Mandy has a wealth of knowledge and I've found her very easy to open up to. Cannot recommend highly enough.
About 4 months ago I decided to try therapy and was recommended Head Agenda by my girlfriend. After getting in contact with them I was assigned to Darren and over that period of time I found him very helpful, I would definitely recommend him and say it was a really positive experience
Can't rate Head Agenda, or my therapist, highly enough. I had my first appointment within two weeks of enquiring and began CAT therapy with Jonathan. His kind, caring and friendly approach instantly helped me to feel relaxed, leading to several breakthroughs during our sessions. My therapy with Jonathan has been genuinely life changing; this is by far the best money I've ever spent. I now feel calmer and more content, and have the tools needed to enjoy better mental health.
If you're ready to put in the work, I'd definitely recommend Head Agenda.
I couldn't recommend Juliet enough. She is a warm, kind and caring therapist who pulled me through a challenging, dark time. I am forever thankful for all her support, wealth of experience and tools she provided. Thank you Juliet x