Counseling is not always very friendly to the man and he often bails from couples counseling unless, unless…
What if we helped him feel successful and gave him the knowledge he lacks? What if we encouraged him to practice the skills to the point of mastery before asking him to use them in a game situation? When the couple is in counseling, the stakes are very high. People do not come in quickly when they see a problem. The woman usually asks the man and he stalls. He says, “Let’s try to fix it ourselves.” Any surprise there? Men do the same for fixing the house, the car, medical issues. Men were taught that to admit not knowing how to fix it is tantamount to being a loser. Not true, but that is what they were taught. “Unless you know how to fix your house, you are not a real man.” As if, at birth, all that information is downloaded into his brain and that is what it means to be a man. Again, not true, but we hear these messages and they warp us if we don’t challenge them and think for ourselves.
“Tell her what you need,” repeats the therapist, as if the man understands the directive.
Hey counselors, try this:
“We all have basic needs in life. For example, in counseling, many people say they want to feel seen, feel heard, be understood. They may want reassurance of some sort. I have a list of needs right here for you to reference. We don’t expect you to come in with all the answers, so here is the list right here. So, take a peak at this list and see if you can identify a few needs right now and let her know what you need. Then request what you need and the two of you determine if that is a need you get met within the relationship or if it is a need you meet yourself or with your family or friends. You will get the need met; it is just a matter of timing and setting and people involved. So you feel confident knowing that your needs will be met. There is less desperation, less urgency, fewer demands on the relationship itself. When you are confident that your needs will be met, then the relationship is less likely to suffer the weight of your needs. Okay, so from that list, or your own ideas, what do you need right now?” For the man who is new to counseling, does not have this vocabulary or life experience, you have reassured him that you will not embarrass him, that he can count on you to have his back and he will not experience being trapped. He is less likely to resist counseling when he knows that you will set him up for success. He gets the felt sense that he can rely on you and that his feelings, his needs, his preferences are important to you. That is the meta message in preparing him to be successful. Imagine sending him and her an article on that, or better yet, an audio since the percentage of men who read those types of articles is not very high. Again, set them up for success.
What are some common needs? Everything that follows on this particular blog posting is not my original material and I have cited the source.
The following list of needs is neither exhaustive nor definitive. It is meant as a starting place to support anyone who wishes to engage in a process of deepening self-discovery and to facilitate greater understanding and connection between people.
We have another nonviolent communication list that might also be of interest to you: a list of feelings.
to know and be known
to see and be seen
to understand and
celebration of life
The contents of this page can be downloaded and copied by anyone so long as they credit CNVC as follows:
(c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication
Website: www.cnvc.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find a PDF of feelings and needs here: https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/learn-nonviolent-communication/feelings/