A typical image of American men getting together involves beer and sports, jokes and complaints about women, a little backslapping, and awkwardness at the least hint of intimacy. In this scenario men are simply tough and have no need to share their stories or sort through the substantial challenges of work, relationships, parenthood, friendship, health, money, sex, aging parents, and an increasingly complex world.
At the other end of the spectrum is the equally compelling image of the Lone Wolf, the man who somehow burst into adulthood with all the skills, knowledge and emotional grit that he would ever need, a man who can stand alone and face the world with courage and fortitude without blinking.
In either case men are supposed to accept the mystifying assumption that they should somehow know how to handle life's difficulties without having been taught, that it is a weakness to admit ignorance, that it is absurd to be relieved when other men reveal that they are struggling with similar problems. All too often our fathers--hampered themselves by the message to be stoic, by the demand to be a provider but not a nurturing parent, an enforcer of rules and not an encouraging presence--left us wounded and longing for an understanding mentor who would be pleased with our successes and helpful when we stumble, who could be playful and loving.
Picture this: a small group of men who are able to lay all that aside and trust each other with their private anxieties, men who share their hopes, disappointments, frustrations, as well as their moments of success and joy, who are able to admit that it is difficult to get out of bed some mornings, who may be tempted to drink too much, who are struggling to find or maintain a healthy relationship, who are willing to reexamine some of the pains of childhood that still seem to shape their lives; young men who are starting careers and finding partners, who face the daunting prospect of being a husband and perhaps a parent; older men whose work, relationship and sex life may have become routine, who feel their youth slipping away from them and their prospects unappealing; men approaching or beginning retirement who are trying to make sense of a new phase in their lives. Picture a room with men who know that it is safe to talk about these things because what is said in that room stays there, because their thoughts will be honored, considered, and reflected upon.
For over 30 years licensed therapists at The Men's Center have facilitated groups of 5 to 8 men who long to have a safe, confidential environment where they are able to come each week and see the familiar faces of men who know them in all their humanness, with all their strengths and foibles, and who continue to help each other to grow and flourish.
If you are interested in more information, please call Joseph Saah at (510) 644-8262 or Peter Tichenor at (510) 525-2411.
When: Each group meets once a week on a weekday evening
Where: 2931 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
Cost: $40 per weekly session (a 10 week initial commitment is required)