Positive Psychology With Male Clients
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Positive Psychology With Male Clients, Dr. Mark S. Kiselica demonstrates his active, strength-focused approach to working with men. Positive psychology focuses on client strengths rather than psychopathology, which works well with male clients, as many men feel uncomfortable appearing vulnerable and being open with strangers.
Throughout the process of building rapport and assessing therapeutic issues, Dr. Kiselica looks for the good in the client and shares what he sees through comments and observations. These comments not only build the therapeutic relationship but also encourage expansion of positive attributes in the client. As the client's strengths grow over time, these positive traits will displace most dysfunctional behaviors.
In this session, Dr. Kiselica works with a male client in his late 20s who feels a lot of pressure in his life to provide for his girlfriend and their son. By emphasizing the client's strengths as a provider and a father, Dr. Kiselica helps him to see how much he has to offer and how he is in many respects already living up to his vision of what it means to be a good man.
Mental health professionals, social scientists, and members of the media rarely proclaim the beauty of boys and men and their ways of relating to the world. Instead, when the subject of boys and men is discussed in the professional literature, the popular press, or public forums, the conversation is usually focused on either the bad things that men and boys do or how the male socialization process scars boys and men for life, leaving them chronically flawed and in dire need of fixing (Kiselica, 2006).
Although the intense attention devoted to these issues has generated a greater awareness about some of the serious social problems that are mainly perpetrated by males (e.g., violent crime) or primarily suffered by boys and men (e.g., suicide), it has also discouraged an understanding and appreciation for the many good things that boys and men do (e.g., caring for family members) and the great strengths associated with traditional masculinity (e.g., healthy self-reliance; Kiselica, 2006). However, over the past several years, there has also been an increased interest in positive psychology (see Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Snyder & Lopez, 2007), whose purpose is to foster well-being and resiliency in people through the study of strengths and virtue over disease, weakness, and damage, and the application of therapeutic strategies that are designed to build in people what is right rather than solely focusing on repairing what is wrong (Aspinwall & Staudinger, 2003; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Nevertheless, approaches to counseling that focus explicitly on the positives of clients are rather rare (Seligman, Rashid, & Parks, 2006). Even rarer is a helping perspective that looks at the strengths and contributions of boys and men.
Consistent with a positive psychology perspective, the purpose of this video is to demonstrate how psychologists can tap traditional male strengths to promote a happy, well-adjusted life in boys and men.
Drawing from the work of Levant (1995), who observed that there are several attributes of traditional masculinity that are valuable for male development; Kiselica, Englar-Carlson, Horne, and Fisher (2008), who proposed a positive psychology model of boys, men, and masculinity; and Horne, Jolliff, and Roth (1996), who designed a model of optimal male development through the life span; Dr. Kiselica demonstrates an approach to counseling and psychotherapy that accentuates the following healthy behaviors and traditions of boys and men:
- male relational styles
- generative fatherhood
- male ways of caring
- male self-reliance
- the worker–provider tradition of husbands and fathers
- male daring, courage, and risk-taking
- the group orientation of boys and men
- the humanitarian service of fraternal organizations
- men's use of humor
- male heroism
Dr. Kiselica acknowledges that this list of strengths is representative rather than an exhaustive inventory of male assets and that some of these strengths overlap to some degree. He also recognizes that the strengths discussed in this DVD are social constructions that are neither male-specific (e.g., many women have worker–provider roles) nor based on biologically-determined sex differences between men and women, and therefore can be considered human strengths.
Dr. Kiselica intends to emphasize the ways that males demonstrate these strengths and how mental health professionals can consider each strength as a building block for fostering wellness and honorable manhood in boys and men.
Mark S. Kiselica, PhD, is a professor of counselor education at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. He is the author of over 100 publications and 80 conference presentations, most of which are focused on the subjects of counseling boys and men, especially teenage fathers, and on the process of confronting racism.
His publications include five books: Multicultural Counseling With Teenage Fathers (1995), Confronting Prejudice and Racism During Multicultural Training (1999), Handbook of Counseling Boys and Adolescent Males (1999), When Boys Become Parents: Adolescent Fatherhood in America (2008), and Counseling Troubled Boys (2008).
He is a fellow and former president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity, a former consulting scholar for the Country Boys Community Engagement Outreach Campaign, and a member of the American Psychological Association's Working Group to Develop Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men. He is also a member of the National Advisory Board for the Quality Improvement Center on Non-Residential Father Involvement in Child Welfare.
Dr. Kiselica is the editor of a book series on Counseling and Psychotherapy with Boys and Men.
- Horne, A. M., Jolliff, D., & Roth, E. (1996). Men mentoring men in groups. In M. Andronica (Ed.), Men in groups: Insight, interventions, psychoeducational work (pp. 97–112). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Kiselica, M. S. (2008). When boys become parents: Adolescent fatherhood in America. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
- Kiselica, M. S., & Englar-Carlson, M. (2008). Establishing rapport with boys in individual counseling and psychotherapy: A male-friendly perspective. In M. S. Kiselica, M. Englar-Carlson, & A. M. Horne (Eds.), Counseling troubled boys: A guidebook for practitioners (pp. 49–65). New York: Routledge.
- Kiselica, M. S., Englar-Carlson, M., Horne, A.M., & Fisher, M. (2008). A positive psychology perspective on helping boys. In M. S. Kiselica, M. Englar-Carlson, & A. M. Horne (Eds.), Counseling troubled boys: A guidebook for practitioners (pp. 31–48). New York: Routledge.
- Mortola, P., Hiton, H., & Grant, S. (2008). BAM! Boys advocacy and mentoring: A leader's guide to facilitating strength-based groups for boys. New York: Routledge.
- Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55 (1), 5–14.
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