To Sam Cochran, PhD, students' ongoing interest in his practicum on the psychology of men and masculinity even though the number of students isn't large--is confirmation of the need for preparation in the area.
Students taking the University of Iowa counseling psychology professor's practicum meet with four to eight male clients weekly as well as with Cochran to discuss the gender-specific issues that arise during therapy, such as a reluctance to discuss emotions. Cochran also gives students an extensive reading list to consider as they work with clients (see sidebar).
"We've modeled the practicum as a response to student interest," he says. "This has emerged as one that every year a core group of students becomes interested in taking, and they learn it as they do it and as they talk about it."
The arrangement at Iowa is not a formal program per se, and it's rare for even having a specialized focus.
Few if any schools have an established curriculum on the subdiscipline of the psychology of men. If anything, a school has a course or two, such as those James O'Neil, PhD, teaches at the University of Connecticut or James Mahalik, PhD, leads at Boston College. Indeed, while APA's Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) was founded in 1974, Div. 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity) didn't come about until 1995.
Though still smaller than the psychology of women subdiscipline in terms of students, programs and resources, the psychology of men subdiscipline is nevertheless providing students with more courses, experts and research than ever before to prepare them for careers working in therapy with men.
Renewed focus in education
Indeed, the psychology of men and masculinity field really only begun to grow in the past 15 years, says Matt Englar-Carlson, PhD, a counseling professor at California State University, Fullerton, whose research focuses on masculinity. As such, many students still need to learn the basics of how men are unique--for example, they express their emotions differently than women--and what challenges they present in therapy. Englar-Carlson focuses on how students can assist men when conducting psychotherapy (see sidebar). But to best prepare them, he has his students challenge their own gender stereotypes.
"We've spent a lot of time working with the victims of men, and rightfully so, but we also have to see that men are in pain, too," he says. "So I tell my students in training to never assume, but to ask about their experiences."
Similarly, Chris Kilmartin, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington, looks for "teachable moments" when leading his class on the psychology of men. He shows that men are more than stereotypes--and that psychologists can help them understand that.
"I show a film in class about a fraternity violence education project, and in it, fraternity brothers talk about the problems and causes of gender-based violence," explains Kilmartin, author of "The Masculine Self" (McGraw-Hill, 2000). In the film, "Men's Work: Fraternity Brothers Stopping Violence Against Women," the students "are quite articulate and thoughtful about these issues, and students are often amazed to hear fraternity men talk like that," he says. "We need to provide an atmosphere that's safe for men to explore who they are."
Beyond the classroom
Psychology education on men and masculinity isn't restricted to the classroom. Several experts in male psychology are taking their message on the road.
Members of Div. 51 deliver talks and host workshops for psychologists looking to shift their practices' focus toward men. Cochran has conducted several workshops that use the book "Deepening Psychotherapy with Men" (APA, 2001), which he co-wrote with Div. 51 President Fred Rabinowitz, PhD.
APA offers an independent study program for continuing-education (CE) credits that uses this book and includes a test derived from it. (For more information, visit www.apa.org/ce/1080076.html.)
Meanwhile, other Div. 51 members, including Rabinowitz, of the University of Redlands in California, and division secretary David Shepard, PhD, of California State University, Fullerton, have hosted other CE workshops in California on working with men in therapy.
"Workshops on masculinity are being offered more, and I've received more requests for them in last few years," Rabinowitz says. "It's on the shoulders of our group to figure out how to get men in therapy and have it not be an alien world."
Also, Div. 51 hosted a CE program at APA's 2004 Annual Convention in Honolulu on how to develop a course on and effectively teach the psychology of men to graduate students. For more information on that workshop, visit www.apa.org/divisions/div51/Fall04bulletin.htm.
Div. 51 will again offer the four-hour workshop at APA's 2005 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. O'Neil, the Div. 51 chair of the Committee on the Teaching of Psychology of Men, along with Mahalik, Rabinowitz, Kilmartin and Clark University's Michael Addis, PhD, will discuss their techniques for teaching classes and help attendees learn to develop curricula for their own courses.
O'Neil, a pioneer in the area who has taught a course on the psychology of men at the University of Connecticut since 1990, is working with his committee to identify the most essential concepts to teach students and to develop the beginnings of a core content to the discipline.
For example, O'Neil employs a psychoeducational approach, in which he "creates the course so people can think about how it applies to their lives," he says. He puts information from the course in context for students by asking them to personalize the material, such as by having them assess how much they adhere to stereotypes. "This topic elicits a lot of emotion," he says. "There's really no way to look at this material without asking questions about the self."
Also at this year's convention, Cochran, Shepard and Rabinowitz will lead a Div. 51-sponsored event on teaching men and masculinity psychology. The three will perform a clinical demonstration of conducting therapy with men: Rabinowitz will be the therapist, Shepard will play the "client" and Cochran will provide analysis. The session is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 2-3:50 p.m.
Sam Cochran, PhD, a counseling psychology professor at the University of Iowa, includes extensive readings in his practicum on conducting psychotherapy with men. Some selected titles include:
Brooks, G. (1998). A new psychotherapy for traditional men. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gilbert, L., & Scher, M. (1999). Gender and sex in counseling and psychotherapy. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Kupers, T. (1993). Revisioning men's lives: Gender, intimacy, and power. New York: Guilford.
Levant, R., & Pollack, W. (1995). A new psychology of men. New York: Basic Books.
Rabinowitz, F., & Cochran, S. (2001). Deepening psychotherapy with men. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.