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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Men's experiences of couples counselling culminating in the decision to discontinue Bull, Laura


Psychological help-seeking has historically been disproportionate between genders, with evidence to suggest that half as many men seek counselling services as women. The extent of physical and mental conditions impacting men as a result of their avoidance of health services places them and their families at enormous risk. When men attend counselling services, they are far more likely to discontinue prematurely in both individual and couples counselling. Further, researchers have voiced the absence of research exploring men’s experiences of counselling, particularly couples counselling, and the factors that promote a positive or negative experience. The purpose of this study is to add to the limited literature on men’s experiences of couples counselling through the use of phenomenological interviews. This research highlights the portions of participants’ experiences that contributed to their decision to discontinue, giving insight to the unique needs of these male participants in the counselling room and opening the doors for future research to determine the generalizability of these findings. Nine themes emerged from the interviews with five participants. These themes were: (1) Perceived counsellor effectiveness, (2) Counsellor bias, (3) Moving forward, (4) Getting derailed, (5) Readiness, (6) Feeling unseen, (7) Feeling unheard, (8) Discomfort with surroundings, (9) Partner openness. In addition, participants provided recommendations for counsellors working with men in the couples counselling field. These recommendations are included in the final section of the findings. This study offers deeper understanding of men’s experiences of couples counselling, and in particular, the experiences that contribute to the sense that counselling did not work. Based on these findings, implications for service providers and future research are outlined.

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