I work with men. I know what they’re going through.
Getting that first job…
When Bill got his first job, his father approved because it was with a good company and had good benefits. It wasn’t exactly what Bill wanted to do for a living. It wasn’t the dream job. But it was dream-adjacent… or at least it would be in a few years.
Finding the right partner…
When Bill got married, his parents weren’t sure he was doing the right thing. His father called her his “better half” in public but, in private, he didn’t talk about her at all. He seemed to like her, though, as he smiled a lot when they were together. Bill saw a bit of effort in the smile, though… no crinkles around the eyes.
Settling into a new life…
Bill loved her, and even though marrying meant accepting that he wasn’t going to be hiking the Andes with a giant camera lens swinging from his neck…
There were other dreams… about responsibility, family, and finally growing up.
Coping with life’s curve balls…
When the company was bought out, Bill was taken by surprise. They put in their own people. Not to worry… after all, he was looking for a job when he had found that one.
He had two kids and a little savings. He didn’t have enough in the bank for retirement, and he felt crappy about that whenever he read a blog about how much he should have saved by now. (He didn’t yet know that almost nobody has enough set aside).
His wife was supportive – even more so when he found another job quickly. Her smile had been regular, optimistic, and a little forced. He couldn’t ask his dad for advice. He was supposed to be past that by now.
Keeping your head above water…
The house hadn’t put them in over their heads. It put them exactly AT their heads. The car payments, kids’ expenses (September and May were nightmares for scheduling and spending, and the credit cards came in handy), and upkeep on everything left them with two family vacations a year.
Bill could handle it. It bothered him that his house wasn’t increasing in value as much as he needed it to if his retirement plan was to sell it in 15 years.
Dealing with new loneliness in aging…
When Bill’s father died, he took with him a lot that Bill had never learned to ask about.
And his friends all had families now. They really only exchanged a few comments at lunch a few times a year.
Wondering if other guys are going through the same…
Bill looked at some of the older men in his life: at work, in the neighborhood… sometimes guys with whom he’d played golf. If they were stressed out, it didn’t show. They talked divorce and what to drive since BMW’s quality had gone to crap.
But everyone seemed to be keeping it together. Everybody seemed to be ok with four hours of sleep, so staying up late every night wasn’t that weird. He’d go back to the gym soon enough. He’d better… his monthly membership was expensive.
Fighting what’s creeping up beneath the surface…
Bill noticed he was getting angry… more often. And not at anyone in particular. He was nervous for no reason… and sleepless about half the nights of the month.
He never meant to yell at his kids. His dad had done that to him. But by the time he remembered not to yell at them or, worse, say something that landed like a boulder to the chest … he’d already done it.
Losing touch with those closest to us…
And he didn’t see his wife so much. She had her job and he had his, and they watched reality TV together and talked about how awful the people were who watched reality TV.
She mentioned a couple of times she didn’t like his drinking and had asked him if his ADHD medication was really necessary. They were awkward conversations, but they were usually over by the end of the last pitch to the Sharks on TV.
Admitting that we need help…
And when his wife told him he had to see a counselor, he did his two-second risk assessment (“How serious is she? Will she forget about this in two days?”) and decided she was very serious, and that she wasn’t going to forget about this in two days.
He also knew that if he didn’t do something, he’d be forced to make some big changes.
I’ve seen men drive themselves mad…
… with questioning, frustration, anxiety, and all kinds of things one can buy in a package store or online. Bill was one… and there are countless others.
What’s going on with you?
Do you have anxiety out of control?
Struggling on how to tell your parents you’re gay?
Are you going through a divorce?
Have you self-medicated with alcohol or other drugs… and discovered that they weren’t as easy to put down as you thought?
Or maybe you’re hoping like hell that your wife doesn’t look at your phone too deeply, because not all self-medication is done with substances.
What many of us have in common is this…
At one point, we’ve looked around and thought that everyone else has figured it out but us.
For far too many men I’ve known have lived with a sense that they were supposed to be on some journey all this time –growing, developing, and becoming more confident and powerful.
Someone was supposed to help with that, but it didn’t happen for all of us.
Instead, many of us just want to be able to sleep through the night. And there are all-too-many questions that we have trouble answering for our own sons.
Many of us feel trapped in a rut… one where we’re starting to conclude that doing good work and being nice to people isn’t enough – that it’s dangerously close to a recipe for a suck-ass life.
I started my career working with men.
I started in the mental health field 31 years ago as a psychiatric medic in the Air Force and have held every job from an overnight tech at a State Hospital, to a mindfulness and meditation trainer, to the Clinical Director of a 54-bed residential treatment facility.
So, I have a long history of working with men!
A diverse educational and professional background…
I’ve directed actors, charted stock prices for options traders, and lived abroad a few times. Along the way, I managed to get degrees in English and German, comparative literature, and counseling psychology.
After winning a nationwide screenwriting competition, I worked as a script doctor and independent film producer in Hollywood while living in Hawaii. I have won awards at several film festivals for my two feature films and three short works. I’ve directed and written over 40 commercials.
And for the last several years I’ve served as a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, and a lay Buddhist teacher.
I’ve had the good fortune to work in several fields that have allowed me to study how people work together, how they “click,” and what happens when they don’t.
Putting all this experience to work for you…
I teach overwhelmed men, women, and adolescents how to rewrite the stories in their heads that are holding them back. This often requires challenging the longest-held of assumptions we carry about ourselves vis-à-vis anxiety, mental health, addiction, and what we mean when we say we “just want to be happy.”
These experiences provide a foundation of storytelling and training that allows me to understand almost any issue with which you’re willing to trust me. Because of this commitment to understanding, I enjoy working with women and adolescents, especially as they navigate anxiety around experiences they’ve survived with the distressed men in their lives.
I help clients identify their thinking patterns with a film director’s clarity, a writer’s sense of language, and the instincts of a recovered adult. The language we choose reveals that our thoughts, not our feelings, play the largest role in where our anxiety begins and ends. The stories we tell ourselves dictate our paths.
The highest compliment I could receive…
I’ve been honored by the stories I’ve heard and the reactions I’ve gotten from men of all ages.
For me, the highest compliment as a counselor isn’t necessarily “I feel better.” Usually, it’s “Oh yeah, I’ve been sleeping well, but I’m still working on…“
I look forward to meeting you and to the work we can do together at Manbrain Inc.!