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A RESEARCH PROJECT BY: 5/1/2015 1. A Study of Male Clients’ Perception of and Experience of Relationship Counselling at the Marine Parade Family Service.

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Presentation on theme: "A RESEARCH PROJECT BY: 5/1/2015 1. A Study of Male Clients’ Perception of and Experience of Relationship Counselling at the Marine Parade Family Service."— Presentation transcript:


2 A Study of Male Clients’ Perception of and Experience of Relationship Counselling at the Marine Parade Family Service Centre (MPFSC) 5/1/2015EE 2 Authors: Lim Ching-Hwa, Jadelyn: Senior Counsellor, MPFSC. Koh, Evelyn Rochelle: Counsellor, MPFSC Goh, Esther C.L. (Dr) : Lecturer, Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore (NUS).


4 PURPOSE & RATIONALE OF STUDY Key purpose of study: To gain an in-depth understanding of the perception & experiences of male clients who sought counseling for relationship issues at the MPFSC 5/1/2015 4

5 PURPOSE & RATIONALE OF STUDY Three key questions:  What were male clients’ perspectives of counseling before and after counseling & their motivations for help-seeking?  How did men overcome barriers to help- seeking?  What were male clients’ experiences of the counseling process? 5/1/2015 5

6 OVERALL TRENDS & DEMOGRAPHICS Figure 1:distribution of cases by year of first contact and number of sessions (*up to mid 2011) *sampling frame for project is from Jan 2006- mid 2011) 5/1/2015 6 (*mid-2011)

7 OVERALL TRENDS & DEMOGRAPHICS 5/1/2015 7 Figure 2:Distribution of cases by presenting issue

8 OVERALL TRENDS & DEMOGRAPHICS 5/1/2015 8 Figure 3:Distribution of cases by spouse who initiated counselling

9 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY & METHOD Tapestry of three methods: (a) Trend analysis of data from Jan 2006 – mid 2011 (b) Qualitative approach In-depth interviews with 13 Chinese male clients who had completed counseling ( c) Focus Group Discussion with professional counselors 5/1/2015 9

10 PROFILE OF MALE CLIENT PARTICIPANTS Client Code Age Years married Presenting Issues EducationReligion Mr A 290.5CompatibilityDiplomaChristian Mr B 389Communication & EMA * -Christian Mr C 395In-law issuesDegreeChristian Mr D 355EMA *DiplomaBuddhist Mr E 382EMADegree- Mr F 427CompatibilityDiplomaFree-thinker Mr G 4718CommunicationDegreeFree-thinker Mr H 413In-Law issuesDiplomaFree-thinker Mr I398.5EMADegreeCatholic Mr J30’s2Sexual relationsDegreeCatholic Mr K40’s20EMASecondaryBuddhist Mr L398CommunicationDegreeCatholic Mr M5022EMADegreeFree-thinker 5/1/2015 10

11 MEN’S MOTIVATION FOR HELP-SEEKING  Improve marriage  Find solutions to problems within marriage  Act of care & responsibility towards spouse  Last-ditch attempt to “save marriage” where problems were severe e.g. on brink of divorce 5/1/2015 11

12 BARRIERS TO HELP-SEEKING I)Mainstream concepts of males:  male socialization / “masculine mystique” (O’Neil, 1981)  Power & control, autonomy & self-reliance o Help-seeking perceived as weakness or failure  “Gender role conflict” (O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David & Wrightsman, 1985): o Restrictive emotionality; values related to success & power; fear of intimacy and emotional closeness  Stigma : internalised stigma /”self-stigma” 5/1/2015 12

13 “definitely true because of the male chauvinist thing inside. We find that to come for counselling is really quite embarrassing but that is the initial part. Until someone told me that, when my co-colleague told me that it's a big picture, counselling is for the problem of the marriage.” -Mr A “I think as a man, usually in a type of manly family, we expect the man to be the leader or the figurehead of the family, and then as a figurehead of a certain family, you are expected to resolve issues for them and sometimes makes you to say, hey you don’t have these real issues(problems)” -Mr C “It is quite similar to having a male ego. Predominantly, we think that it's your family, we can handle the situation. Why would we need a third-party to counsel us or help us? This is within our household issue, so why should we let the third-party know? And it's like a Chinese saying, losing of face. “ -Mr E 5/1/2015 13 BARRIERS TO HELP-SEEKING

14 POSITIVE FACTORS THAT FACILITATE HELP- SEEKING  Encouraged by significant others e.g. boss, family members, peer group, church members or significant others – link to “subjective norms” (Azjen & Fishbein, 1980)  Clear goal & strong desire to fix marriage : enabling men to put aside ego or stigma.  Encouraged by others who have experienced counseling  Friends who shared about their experience  even for those who ended up divorcing 5/1/2015 14

15 PERSONAL GROWTH EXPERIENCED  Impact on thinking process  Improved communication & relationship  Improved understanding of self  Improved understanding of spouse  Improved understanding of the situation  Improved emotional management 5/1/2015 15

16 TECHNIQUES AND SKILLS MALE CLIENTS FOUND HELPFUL  Active & empathic listening : clients allowed to share & emotions surfaced  Creating safe space for communicating with spouse  Asking skillful questions instead of providing answers directly 5/1/2015 16

17 MALE CLIENTS’ PREFERENCE FOR FEMALE COUNSELLORS  11 out of the 13 males preferred a female counsellor  Less threatening to share with female counsellor  Male counsellor : male ego issue : portrayed as weak in front of another male “Sharing that my wife is sleeping with another man, definitely makes you uncomfortable. It’s easier to talk to a female than a male because somehow I feel that a female will listen less judgmentally. I think that guys (male counsellor) maybe they will feel like I’m a lesser man than him. For a man to seek counselling, it’s already a big step but if its going to be another man in front of me and I have to share, it will make the whole thing more difficult…” -Mr. B 5/1/2015 17

18  Female counsellors more emotionally-attuned, able to connect with deeper emotions  Female counsellors experienced as soothing, softer, patient, nurturing, “maternal”  helps males to let defenses down  Helped wives to hear from another female, especially empathic female 5/1/2015 18 MALE CLIENTS’ PREFERENCE FOR FEMALE COUNSELLORS

19 IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE  Positioning of counselor/professional:  Affirmation and acknowledging efforts of men  Sensitivity to men’s needs  Maintaining balance and “neutrality” between spouses  Establishing a collaborative partnership that empowers men & builds competence  Adopting position of “authoritative doubt” (Mason, 2005) : ownership of expertise (counselor), ownership of experience (client) 5/1/2015 19


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