Women Outnumber Men in Mental Health Profession

A recent article discusses the reasons why male mental health professionals are few and far between. The feminization of the mental health field has been examined for decades. Currently, men represent only twenty percent of psychology degrees earned today, down by 50 percent from only four decades ago. Young male social workers are barely visible, and they account for only 10 percent of all professional counselors practicing. Membership rolls from the American Counseling Association suggest that even the marriage and family counseling landscape is lacking male professionals. The mental health field believes that this trend could cause many men to avoid seeking help when they need it.

“There’s a way in which a guy grows up that he knows some things that women don’t know, and vice versa,” said David Moultrup, a psychotherapist in Belmont, Mass. “But that male viewpoint has been so devalued in the course of empowering little girls for the past 40 or 50 years that it is now all but lost in talk therapy. Society needs to have the choice, and the choice is being taken away.”

The shift is due to cultural and economic influences. Over the past two decades, managed care has decreased incomes drastically. And even psychiatry, which is still male dominated, has resorted to pharmacological treatments. “Usually women get blamed when a profession loses status, but in this case the trend started first, and men just evacuated,” said Dorothy Cantor, a former president of American Psychological Association who conducted a landmark study of gender and psychology in 1995. “Women moved up into the field and took their place.”

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Mary Losey

    May 26th, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    Another reason might be the historically low pay that mental health professionals get. In my home state (FL) grade school teachers with a bachelors make more than an MA level mental health counselor working at a non profit center. Both fields deserve more pay and both are female dominated.

  • Lydia K.

    May 26th, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    “…But that male viewpoint has been so devalued in the course of empowering little girls for the past 40 or 50 years that it is now all but lost in talk therapy. ”

    Wow! Little girls are we? Careful you don’t show your chavinistic side there, sir. You sound like you really grudge that empowerment rather than seeing it as only fair that both sexes have equal opportunities in life and work.

  • jake

    December 9th, 2018 at 8:28 PM

    he was literally talking about children.

  • kel

    May 26th, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    it could be seen as both a good thing and a bad thing. good because it is unlike other professions that are male dominated and bad because it can really lead to a prejudiced view in marriage therapy.

  • hampshire

    May 27th, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    The document clearly proves the clear win by the women over men in mental health profession. Pay structure is a concern though and it should be improved anyway to encourage more professional.

  • runninfast

    May 27th, 2011 at 4:40 AM

    But am I not correct in saying that more women are pursuing college than men are these days? And maybe this is a more natural fit for females then men. As a whole women seem more caring than men. I know that is not always the truth but I think that society in general would state that this is a notion about women that many of us have. Raising awareness about this could get more men into the field, just like with teaching, but I also think that a little more respect is going to have to be doled out to the profession in general to entice many new college grads down this career path.

  • helenwelsh

    May 27th, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    I think it’s because women are naturally more empathic than men are. Everyone knows this, everyone accepts it, and there is evidence to back it up.

    If women are naturally able to do the job well, then I really don’t see what the issue is.

    Mr. Moultrop sounds like he feels threatened by the increase in female psychologists and counselors now. The old boy’s network must be crumbling before his eyes.

  • Brandon RA

    May 27th, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    I would think having more women than men in a profession would be something to cheer about.But a lot of people here point to the pay scale differences and I am disappointed to learn of it.

    Is it true anyway? As for me,I think there are more women in this field because they generally prefer this profession more than men and are even better at handling things like these.I also believer at women are mentally more stronger than men in general.

  • Suzanne Gibbs

    May 28th, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    @kel: No matter what the gender divide is, there will always be a few amongst any group of professionals or workers that are biased in favor of their gender. That’s because of their nature, not their job.

    These types of individuals would do so in other situations apart from just work. You’ll always run across them in life.

    That’s just how it goes, and you can’t do anything about that. It won’t change until they do and there’s none so blind as those who will not see.

  • Reece Small

    May 29th, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    @Lydia K: There is some truth to his statement. In the quest to get women ahead, society has let men fall behind severely in many ways.

    The rise of the feminist movement did help, but never did bring about equality. All it did was invert the scales instead of balancing it out.

    But the second anyone tries to empower men, they get shouted down. Why?

  • Sadie Wilson

    May 30th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    @Reece Small — You ask why? Because men have had it too good for too long! Women have had to fight for every right they have today, both over their bodies and their careers. Men had those same rights handed to them on a plate.

    Don’t think that glass ceilings don’t exist anymore because they do. Salary imbalances between the sexes continue to be an issue so excuse me if I don’t shed a tear if men think we’re getting too big for our boots and oppressing them now! That’s a laugh.

    The truth is they can’t stand the competition, that’s all. It kills them to think there are women out there who are smarter and better at their job than they are.

  • sean

    May 30th, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    I know that from my own personal experience a couple of years ago when I needed a therapist to get my life back to some semblance of sanity I looked for a male therapist in my town and the options were not overwhelming. I wanted a man because I felt like he would be better able to relate to my issues than a female. But I eventually had to end up driving an hour to find one because there just was not one where I lived. The relationship worked out great and making the drive was for the ebst but still it would have been nice to have more choices that I felt comfortable with.

  • Celeste Bloom

    June 3rd, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Excuse me as I wear the mantle of devil’s advocate here. If I was a man I too would prefer to talk to a man. It’s the same as me preferring a female gynecologist. If I had to see a male one, I wouldn’t go as regularly as I do.

    I’m more comfortable talking to my own sex about intimate, personal issues- both psychological and physical.

    I don’t see why it would be any different for a man. Male counselors should be accessible to them. It’s only fair.

  • Cassie V.

    June 16th, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    If there’s a need there for more males in the counseling profession, then that need should be addressed.

    Plenty of businesses and the military visit schools to encourage youngsters to go into their field when they are on the verge of making career decisions and deciding what university or college to attend and course to take.

    Why can’t the organizations that support and train psychologists and therapists do the same? Raising awareness would help, as would a salary increase.

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