Good To Talk?

Posted on: 04 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

New research in the States suggests therapy for trauma is less successful in treating men.

New research in the States suggests therapy for trauma is less successful in treating men.

The findings from the study, carried out by the University of Alberta, looked into the differences between men's and women's responses to short-term group psychotherapy and came to the conclusion most women have been aware of for years - men don't like talking about their feelings.

The results, which have been published in the latest edition of Psychotherapy Research, indicate that women generally had better outcomes in both supportive and interpretive short-term group therapy compared to men. The research also showed that men were less committed to their therapy groups and were perceived by other group members to be less compatible than women.

But we should not be surprised by the results. "Our results may not be surprising, but they are important because they might help clinicians plan treatments more effectively for their patients," said Dr. Anthony Joyce, a psychologists in the University of Alberta's Department of Psychiatry and one of the authors of the paper.

The study focused on patients who had undergone 12 weeks of group therapy to treat a condition known as complicated grief, meaning they were unable to come to terms with the loss of a significant other and, in addition, were experiencing problems in work or in their social life.

The results of the study, which were based on surveys completed by psychotherapists and their patients, showed that symptoms of avoidance, depression, anxiety, and general distress improved in a clinically significant manner for the women but did not change to a similar degree among the men.

"It is becoming more and more clear from research conducted all over the world that gender is a key variable to consider when dealing with depressed individuals," commented Joyce. "The evidence from our findings certainly suggests that men may derive less benefit from a short-term group psychotherapy than women."

Dr. Joyce believes that in contemporary society there is considerable variability among women and men in the preferences, needs, and behaviours related to group therapies, but highlighted that the size of the study group was relatively small (12 of 51 people in the trial were male), and the results of this study do not suggest that group therapy does not help any men.

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