With decades of experience working with hundreds of men as a psychologist, University of Redlands Professor Fred Rabinowitz is now sharing his insights in a new book, published in March by the American Psychological Association (APA), called Deepening Group Psychotherapy with Men: Stories and Insights for the Journey.
The book includes the APA’s “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,” which was created to help therapists work more effectively with their male clients by addressing the complexity and social pressures regarding masculinity. Developing the new guidelines was the result of a decade’s worth of collaboration between Rabinowitz and 30 other psychologists.
In his practice, Rabinowitz says he works with male patients who feel trapped by society’s expectations of what it means to be a man. These clients have internalized expectations about masculinity. As a result, his patients don't cry in front of others, can't connect with their partners, refuse to see a doctor until it's too late, and deal with frustration by turning to violence.
Rabinowitz took a personal approach to writing the new standards, which felt right, he says, because readers could then see the issue of masculinity through his eyes.
“Part of what I’ve learned is that so-called ‘winning’ isn’t the only way to feel good about myself,” he says. “Most men don’t share what’s going on inside. It’s problematic because everyone’s looking at the outside and they never know what’s going on in the inside with themselves or each other. It would benefit everyone if men operated with more authenticity and genuineness rather than engaging in ego-driven actions.”
In an interview with The New York Times, he adds, “We see that men have higher suicide rates, men have more cardiovascular disease, and men are lonelier as they get older. We’re trying to help men by expanding their emotional repertoire, not trying to take away the strengths that men have.”
For more than 30 years, the University of Redlands scholar and clinical psychologist has led a community-based men’s therapy group, with some members traveling hours each way to participate in weekly meetings.
What makes his clinical practice and men’s group popular is that he is skilled at prompting men to open up. “Eighty percent of the men come back year after year,” he notes. “They enjoy sharing what they’re thinking and being understood as part of a trusting relationship.”