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Men and women want different things from therapy

10 July 2017

When it comes to psychological therapy, men are keener on support groups than are women.

And, while most people don’t mind the sex of their therapist, when women do express a preference, it is almost always for having a woman therapist.

That is the conclusion of research published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology today by Louise Liddon from Northumbria University, Roger Kingerlee from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and John Barry from University College London.

The researchers surveyed 347 participants (115 men and 232 women) who have taken part in psychological theapy completed an online survey. The survey described various different kinds of therapy and asked participants how much they liked each, and their strategies for coping with psychological problems and ways they sought help were also assessed.

When the results were analysed, the researchers found that the men liked support groups more than women did and were more likely to believe that there is a lack of male-friendly options than women were. Men also used sex or pornography to cope with stress more than women did.

The majority of participants expressed no preference for the sex of their therapist, but of those who did, men were only slightly more likely to prefer a female therapist whereas women were much more likely to prefer females.

John Barry says:

“We found significant differences between men and women. Women liked psychotherapy more than men did, perhaps because of its emphasis on the sharing of emotion. Men liked support groups significantly more than women did, perhaps due to the emphasis on the sharing of information.”

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