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One of the most exciting aspects of alive's non-profit Health Coaching Program is how it makes support more readily available to men.
Its coaches have a wealth of experience in men's issues, while the convenience and confidentiality of the weekly online phone sessions allow men who might not be comfortable with traditional counselling to feel more at ease as they seek to improve their health.
Keith Martin, a Kitchener, Ont. based expert in men's emotional wellness, recently shared some of his insights with alive on how coaching works for men. In the course of helping dozens of different individuals overcome their life challenges, he has seen how difficult it is for many men to confront the issues facing them.
"There are many stereotypes that are very unhelpful to men," says Martin. "They've been told that they should be able to cope, they should be able to handle anything, and that it's horrible to admit weakness because that's seen as a failure."
But attitudes about how men should conduct themselves and relate to other people are slowly beginning to change--for the better. "There's much more willingness on the part of men to talk about emotional health and emotions today than in our fathers' generation," Martin remarks. As a result, more and more men have turned to coaching as a means to achieving a better life.
Why do men come to coaching?
Topping the list of reasons cited by Martin is the imminent threat of their marriage or relationship collapsing. "It's a woman saying, 'If you don't get it together, I'm leaving.'"
Another reason is depression, which can manifest in poor performance at work, lack of interest in sex, or just an aching sense of emptiness. "Depression is a big thing for men," says Martin. "They wouldn't call it that, but if there isn't happiness, there isn't satisfaction in their life."
Men also come to a coach with the desire for an improved relationship with their children. "Often, men tend to be under-involved as fathers and as parents," Martin remarks. "It's a role men have abdicated to women. They find it harder to embrace being a parent: they either flee from it or they want to do everything, which they simply can't do."
How does coaching work for men?
Whatever their issue, most men enter into coaching in search of ready-to-apply answers. "Men are doers," Martin points out. "They like to do. They look for really practical things they can do right away. When they come to me, they recognize something's wrong and they want to fix it."
The job of the coach isn't to solve their problem for them, however: it's to guide them through a process of learning to solve their problems themselves. That's where the coach comes in--working with them to develop the skills they need to overcome their challenges.
How does coaching differ for men?
Physically and socially, men and women are different, and that entails different approaches when it comes to coaching. In coaching men to become better parents, Martin say he encourages them to "find ways to be involved that aren't like your wife. I can't parent like my wife, because I'm not her, but I can bring different things to the relationships I have with my children. For example, I can play with them."
But just as men and women differ from one another, individual males are not all the same, either. And at the end of the day, if a coach can help a man to find his own solution to his own unique problem, Martin believes he has done his job.
"I can't make him change, because that decision is ultimately up to him. What I'm trying to do is open doors for him, to make him see things more clearly, and hopefully he can take
For more information on alive's Health Coaching Program, visit alivepublishing.com or call 1-800-663-6580.