“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
It isn't easy being a man. Among these difficulties are a general lack of support and validation. Men's issues are not openly acknowledged. Expressions of vulnerability and need are incongruous with the male archetypes which men are socially rewarded for enacting. As a result, men are often left with the unappealing choice between suffering alone and suffering in silence. Other men make a virtue out of a necessity. They identify so intensely with their roles that they are left bewildered as to why they remain discontent in the midst of their “success.” Those who cannot navigate these waters skillfully often flounder on the shoals of bitterness and resignation. They come to believe that this is just the “way things are.” However, safe passages exist – if one knows how to seek them out.
A male therapist for men.
Psychotherapy is one such way through. In a supportive and non-judgmental context, men are encouraged to discuss their real thoughts and feelings with a professional who will afford them respect and consideration. And this is precisely where a gendered match between therapist and client is so important. Research indicates that men are more comfortable talking about issues of personal relevance – especially sex, money, and aggression – with other men. There is a sense of safety that is derived from a shared frame that, for male clients, is becoming increasingly difficult to find in the counseling room. For psychotherapy, the old adage continues to ring true: “a good man is hard to find.”
Healing occurs in psychotherapy by means of the word. It is through the therapeutic conversation that problems are revealed, examined, and resolved. So one might reasonably expect that gendered differences in communication may influence the therapeutic process. For instance, women often consider conversation to be an end in itself, while men generally believe that talking should serve a clear purpose. Within the context of psychotherapy, this difference could potentially manifest either as a non-directive exploration of one's emotions pursued for its own sake or as a practical explication in order to overcome a defined problem. Since a good deal of psychotherapy's effectiveness is derived from the quality of the therapeutic alliance, a mismatch in client-therapist communication styles can create sub-optimal treatment outcomes.
Fortunately, this difficulty is largely avoidable. Most therapists provide details on their modality, which describes what they do in the counseling room. However, by learning more about therapists' approach, or how they perform their chosen modality, potential clients can make reasonable predictions about the likely goodness of fit responsible for the lion's share of positive outcomes. From a consumer's perspective, this is therapeutic “due diligence,” which can save the potential client a good deal of time, energy, and money. Dr. Taraban's approach is not for everyone. Fortunately, the Bay Area is home to many excellent therapists who utilize other effective approaches. However, if you find yourself resonating with the descriptors below, consider reaching out for a free consultation to confirm your initial impressions. Dr. Taraban's approach to psychotherapy is characterized by the following five elements:
Direct. The purpose of psychotherapy is to help clients achieve their goals. To that end, Dr. Taraban is dedicated to objective growth and practical results. Clients should feel as though they are making progress toward the realization of their goals with every session. This is effected most efficiently with a directive approach. By means of incisive and compassionate feedback, clients are empowered to make informed decisions with respect to their own behavior in the service of goal attainment. This process might be described as “therapeutic coaching,” in that clients are explicitly made aware of how certain behaviors differentially further or frustrate their aims.
Active. Psychotherapy is a meeting between two complete individuals. Though the purpose of the meeting is determined by the client, the therapist can best fulfill this purpose by remaining fully present. As a result, Dr. Taraban is an active participant in the therapeutic dialogue. He does not simply listen quietly or enigmatically answer questions with questions. Rather, he is thoroughly engaged in the discussion in order to move the client toward greater clarity and understanding. Using humor and erudition, Dr. Taraban creates a lively, discursive atmosphere in which any topic can be examined with curiosity and objectivity.
Challenging. Personal evolution isn't easy. The process of becoming a better version of oneself entails courage, persistence, and focus. It is a dynamic balance of holding on and letting go. Authentic growth also requires the humility to acknowledge that, if a problem could have been solved with one's present skill set, it would have been solved by now. Dr. Taraban specializes in helping men become aware of self-limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors that can frustrate even the best intentions. By respectfully challenging their assumptions about self and others, he encourages clients to see the world in a new light and to engage with it in new ways.
Solution-focused. Understanding the origin of a problem is often unnecessary to solving it. Indeed, this level of analysis is appropriate only after successful implementation of a solution with an eye toward preventing similar problems in the future. Many psychotherapies are past-oriented. They operate under the assumption that processing the experiences that gave rise to one's issues is sufficient to resolving present difficulties. This is not true. Regardless of when a problem was created, it is always maintained in the here and now. Consequently, Dr. Taraban focuses on addressing present conditions in order to mitigate difficulties efficiently and effectively. Clients cannot build a better past – but the choices they make today can construct a better tomorrow.
Time-limited. Psychotherapy should not be an endless process. Like a good physical therapist, a psychotherapist should constantly be working toward his own obsolescence. This is because a treatment is ultimately successful when it is no longer needed. Dr. Taraban is not looking for “professional patients.” Rather he works with clients to restore and surpass their previous levels of functioning as quickly as possible so that they can get on with the business of living. To that end, treatment is generally brief and intensive. Once clients have attained their goals, the therapy is re-evaluated and, if appropriate, discontinued.
Types of Clients.
Dr. Taraban has worked with hundreds of men on a variety of issues, including: depression, addiction, anxiety, and loss. However, most of his clients fit loosely into one of three categories. These categories collectively represent his clinical expertise. If you find your situation reflected in one of the following archetypes, reach out to determine how Dr. Taraban can help you move forward into a better life.
Finding my way.
This is a young man (typically 16-26) who is struggling to find his place in the world. He may have limited success in the academic and professional marketplace and consequently finds himself increasingly withdrawn and defeated. Since he is still figuring out who he is and what he wants to do, this young man generally lacks internal structure and self- direction, and so remains largely (or entirely) dependent on his parents. Emerging into his adulthood, he finds the prospect of autonomy baffling and unobtainable. The good things in life — a stable career and satisfying relationships — seem to be consistently out of reach.
With such clients, I often assume two complementary functions: therapist and coach. In the former role, I help the client identify and neutralize limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors; in the latter, I train the client in self-discipline, long-term planning, and behavioral economics. Results include authentic confidence, higher achievement, and increased self-sufficiency. In building a life worth living, clients become engaged with the present and hopeful for the future.
dealing with women.
This is a man (typically 26-46) who has difficulty securing or maintaining fulfilling relationships with women. Perhaps he is interested in finding a romantic partner, but has not yet been successful in attracting the kind of woman he desires. Or perhaps he is involved in a long-term relationship, but often feels that his needs consistently go unmet. Despite his sacrifice and commitment, he finds that he is increasingly taken for granted or even openly disrespected. Sex and intimacy have cooled considerably or disappeared entirely. As a result, he feels trapped in a relationship where he is continually expected to “do more, for less.”
With such clients, I help men understand the “game of love.” With an increased awareness of the dynamics of the sexual marketplace and the principles of female attraction, clients are able to disabuse themselves of the maladaptive scripts that so often prevent them from enjoying mutually-satisfying relations with women. Results include more frequent sex, low-conflict relationships, and improved quality of life. Women are only mysterious if you don’t understand them.
reconnecting with purpose.
This is a man (typically 30-60) who has arrived to wealth and security only to discover that “something is missing.” He has achieved the goals on the path laid out for him by society: a high-paying job, a nuclear family, status and respectability. Though he has done “all the right things,” he feels alienated from his life. Such men either fall into a comfortable stagnation in which time passes ever more quickly or lapse into a frenetic hedonism in an attempt to rekindle their dormant vitality. Identified with the roles they have been rewarded for occupying, they find that they have sacrificed their freedom and authenticity for material success.
With such clients, I help men reconnect with their inner truth and clarify their higher purpose. In the process of becoming the conscious authors of their own lives, clients learn to prioritize their individual happiness by manifesting their life's purpose with courage and humility. Results include higher energy levels, increased positive emotions, and a deep sense of personal fulfillment. There is always another mountain to climb. What will be your next summit?