International Men’s Day this week saw Matthew McConaughey, Hollywood star, Oscar-winner and all-round acting legend, pop up on ITV daytime to explain about his own personal therapy.
McConaughey was a guest on ITV’s ‘Loose Women’, which was rebranded for the day as ‘Loose Men’, joining a male panel hosted by Marvin Humes from JLS, former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, radio DJ Roman Kemp and Love Island narrator Iain Stirling. They discussed male mental health, with the show saying that it is "vital that men talk as openly about their struggles” as the women on the show regularly do.
McConaughey said that "whenever I am feeling fragile, if I need to lean on somebody” he talks to a person close to him, his wife Storm in McConaughey’s case, and then also to his therapist.
He said: “"My wife can tell if I am overstressed, working too hard, things are getting on my back. Or maybe it's a certain date that reminds me of something that's happened, someone who has passed away. I talk to my therapist Dan. I will say to Storm, 'Do you think it's time to speak to Dan?'"
McConaughey then gave an excellent explanation of why talking to somebody who is professional and neutral can be a big help, no matter how strong a relationship is with a family member, spouse or friend.
He said: "Storm and I can have conversations but me and Dan don't live under the same roof. He gives me tools and I can take those home and maybe be a better person."
I think he has summed it up brilliantly. A good therapist will be empathetic and they will listen and they won’t judge you for what you say.
Friends and family can be like that as well, of course, but the relationship you have with a therapist is kept separate, boundaried from the rest of your life. You can say things and not worry about the therapist bringing it up years later at Christmas Dinner.
A qualified and trained therapist will also be able to give you an environment where it is safe to explore painful feelings and work through them.
In my experience, a therapist “giving advice” is not doing their job well, because change comes from within a person, not being told what to do by someone else, no matter how qualified or whatever they are.
For McConaughey it is tools, maybe it is also a chance to look at things differently, to be listened to and valued, no matter what it is that’s worrying you or how tough things seem.
If you’d like to talk to me about starting therapy, or have any questions big or small, please get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org or 07961 601 275. You can see more about how I can help you, the sort of therapy I can offer you and more at www.altyerstherapy.com