Working with Men in AEDP
June 25-29, 2012
Harry Stack Sullivan observed that, “We are all more human than otherwise.” That is fundamentally true. Yet to reach that essential core truth, we must make our way through the very real gender differences in our neurobiology, as well as culturally created differences in gender. Far fewer men than women make use of psychotherapy today, even though the rates of serious problems, such as alcoholism, ADHD, and suicidality are far higher - as much as three times higher - among men than among women. The feminization of psychotherapy stems from the fact that its basic practices appear to be more congruent with women’s ways of engaging and often alienating to men sorely in need of therapy. This course explores these issues through the evolving nature of contemporary therapeutic approaches. AEDP is a healing-oriented transformational approach, which relies heavily on attachment theory in its clinical work. A challenge often leveled against AEDP is that its reliance on attachment theory, both in philosophy and particularly in stance, is female-centric and therefore not applicable to men.
This workshop is on a rescue mission: to rescue men from feeling bad about being men; to rescue attachment from the suggestion that it is for women only; and by showing attachment to be the robust empirically validated theory it is, to rescue AEDP from similar misperceptions because of its roots in attachment and empathy. In fact, AEDP, with its affirmation of strengths and its healing orientation, is a well-suited for undoing the shame of men feel about being in therapy. AEDP’s use of experiential techniques and the identification of categorical emotions (biologically rooted feelings that all of us feel regardless of gender) make it quintessentially suited to work with men in therapy and to help them transform their suffering into robust resilience, mental health and joy.
Rather than being prescriptive (especially since the presenter is not male) this workshop --making extensive use of videotape of clinical work with men in therapy -- will be collaborative, guided by AEDP’s dictum: “This is what I did and this is what happened.” Workshop participants and presenter will pool their experiences as human beings, as gendered human beings, and as therapists of both genders working with men and work towards evolving a therapeutic ethos of working with men. We will see how this process is awakened and facilitated through (a) the therapist's emotional engagement and attachment orientation, (b) experiential techniques and dyadic affect regulation, and (c) the metatherapeutic processing of experiences of feeling safe, seen, helped, and changed. And in doing so, show how AEDP is a deep robust practice that can hold similarity and difference of the two genders and allow individuals to discover themselves without having to leave gender consciousness at the door.
Celebrating maleness, while empathizing with its costs:
An introduction to AEDP
Attachment: Focus on protection and problem solving
Working with avoidant attachment
Aggression: Working with anger and aggression productively
Shame and Vulnerability
Emotional Intelligence: What men have to teach women