Clare Cogan – Hypnotherapist specialising in male mental health
Stats show that more men are reaching out for mental health support. Have you seen a rise in men attending your clinic?
Yes, definitely. There has been a significant rise in the last few years in particular. I have noticed that they are not the type of men I would expect would come. They probably appear less open. My approach is very evidence based and men seem to like that as they go away and do their research and then believe in what I’m talking about.
Is there a common theme among your male clients?
The trigger points are usually issues within their relationships, stress, physical symptoms such as heart problems, high blood pressure, sleep issues, weight issues such as compulsive eating, lack of competence at work. Many of these things have signposted to them that they need to address their stress levels.
Where women talk about their issues in a more abstract way, men tend to talk about things in a context relevant to their daily lives.
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are rising in men. What are the main benefits of hypnotherapy when treating these?
What appeals most to men about hypnotherapy is that they don’t have to over-analyse. We look at the neuroscience and the way the brain works and then apply that to helping them in how they can move forward with the situation they are in.
Having that understanding of what’s going on in the brain when you are depressed is fundamental. When people in general understand why it is happening, it enables them to take control. It empowers them. Men in particular need to see that journey and why this type of therapy is going to work rather than just chatting without an end goal.
I use a very different approach with men, knowing how their mind works, and having done so much research around this, there has to be a strategy set in place from the start. It’s the same principle as when I’m working with boys rather than girls.
When I was a social worker, I found men in particular tended to want to test my metal. Often men are sent by their wives and boys by their parents. They have to feel that they can relate to me. Otherwise they will just play lip service.
It is so important that we continue make mental health support as accessible to men as possible. These men are role models for their sons. If they are emotionally reticent, we’re going to get another generation of boys who can’t share.
We don’t have that avenue and understanding with these younger boys. Many of them are angry. But it is not socially acceptable to be angry and to act out. But this is because they are in their primitive brain and their stress buckets are full. There is a lot more judgement. If someone is anxious or depressed, they receive more empathy.
It’s about taking the lid off holistic health care and the fact it is for everybody.
What other health issues / conditions do you see in clinic?
Depression, anxiety, anger, stress, past trauma – all of these are dressed up in all sorts of different ways.
Suicide rates are higher in men than women. Why do you think this is?
Because of the lack of social acceptability for men to be emotionally open. We need to shift this.
If you are worried about a man who is close to you, be it your husband, family member or friend, what are the main signs to look out for to know that they need professional help?
People tend to look for withdrawal. I look for anger and frustration, where people may be flying off the handle more easily than usual, blaming other things (usually work!). It’s easy to hang it on that. It’s about their coping ability – these are signs that they are not really coping.
What is your main message to men and boys who need support but haven’t yet reached out to a professional?
My message is that there is help and understanding out there. It’s not okay to put up with extreme feelings and emotions and dismiss them or have them dismissed. You shouldn’t have to feel the need to be strong for everybody else’s sake. While this may have been the traditional male role, things are now changing. Now men can reach out and find the help they need.
If you’d like to talk to Clare, confidentially, about anything that is troubling you or somebody you care about, then please get in touch.