Male emotional intimacy: how therapeutic men's groups can enhance couples therapy

Fam Process. 2010 Mar;49(1):109-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2010.01311.x.


Men's difficulty with emotional intimacy is a problem that therapists regularly encounter in working with heterosexual couples in therapy. The first part of this article describes historical and cultural factors that contribute to this dilemma in men's marriages and same-sex friendships. Therapeutic men's groups can provide a corrective experience for men, helping them to develop emotional intimacy skills while augmenting their work in couples therapy. A model for such groups is presented, including guidelines for referral, screening, and collaboration with other therapists. Our therapeutic approach encourages relationship-based learning through direct emotional expression and supportive feedback. We emphasize the development of friendship skills, core attributes of friendship (connection, communication, commitment, and cooperation) that contribute to emotional intimacy in men's relationships. Case examples are included to illustrate how this model works in clinical practice, as well as specific suggestions for further study that could lead to a more evidence-based practice.

MeSH terms

  • Couples Therapy / methods*
  • Culture
  • Emotions*
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Masculinity
  • Men's Health*
  • Mental Health*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Residence Characteristics