It may be a surprise to you that being a male therapist isn’t much different from being a female therapist, certainly in my view. From my training I noticed there were a few minor differences but once I qualified and working in the industry I realised that the only difference was the perception in the minds of others.
There are indeed advantages and disadvantages being a male therapist. Throughout my training it was clear to me that the industry is pretty much female dominated. I did feel a little bit awkward walking in to the first day of my training to be a complementary therapist. I noticed I was the only male within my class. Some described it a bit like walking into the Lion’s den, but these feelings soon eased when I got used to my new chosen career path. There was the odd snipe from my classmates regarding the changing room facilities and the often female orientated coursework but I realised that taking it in good humour was my method of approach and it that seemed to work for me.
As my course etched nearer to it’s conclusion my mind began to think about working for myself and although feeling a little bit daunted by this prospect, it became a welcome distraction from my impending exams. I remember the day when I received a notification that I had passed my course, it was a moment of joy knowing that it was a step closer to fulfilling my purpose. My path had been clear from the start and, as it was to continue, I would learn that there were more obstacles to overcome.
Starting work in the ‘real’ world, as a male therapist, I began to see where my place was and this settled my early feelings of self-doubt. My own mind had been conditioned by others who scoffed at the prospect of a male joining a female dominated industry. On the other hand I listened to other business owners and friends who would tell me that it was good to see a male therapist addressing the balance and that they wished to see more males in the industry. I was also told that some women prefer a male therapist as the approach is different. This mental challenge became my first obstacle.
I have never been shy to face my fears and, as difficult as it can be, I feel it’s the best way to move forward. Adopting this attitude and with renewed optimism I began working for myself and building my business. Naturally I felt nervous a little but I wasn’t too shy in dealing with both male and female clients, having had plenty of practice throughout my training. This allowed me to be comfortable and competent with my new qualified skills.
Inquisitive of what I do, I have often been asked the question by others “Do females not find it awkward being touched by a male?” Others may see it through the old stigma of sleazy massage parlours but for me none of these thoughts ever enter my brain. “I’m a professional and I have a passion of helping others” is always my response.
I occasionally get a puzzled look when describing my line of work, mostly by males, may I add. I can see their brain ticking over questioning my masculinity. I have experienced plenty of crude remarks within a group of males, I’ve not being taken seriously and experienced mild discrimination. These outdated stereotypes rarely play on my mind, but at one time did make me doubt myself. Being true to myself and continuing on my intended path keeps me focussed and grounded. Constantly questioning my belief holds no value and is a waste of my valuable brain power. If I needed my path tested, my subsequent training in Counselling resulted in me being the only male in that class too, being used to it by now I was more than comfortable being in amongst the company of females.
In conclusion, whilst I have highlighted certain differences on my journey, I realised that when working in my chosen path it’s been a highly rewarding choice of career and has many advantages.
I have come so far and achieved so much in such a short space of time and I’ll continue to shine as a male in a still very much female dominated industry. Maybe this post will act as an inspiration to other males as I would encourage those thinking of embarking on the same path as myself to follow your dreams and don’t be put off by old stigmas or outdated beliefs. Be true to yourself and don’t listen to those who may be too quick to judge you.
Males sometimes have a different perspective or approach
Females often prefer male company
The ability to create your own path
Lack of Acceptance
Harder to achieve credibility
VISIONS FROM STONE - PODCAST 01
Visions from Stone podcast shares alternative health ideas, tips and modalities to help those who experience physical, mental and emotional pain and trauma.
VFS 01 _ Anxiety with Suz McDonald
"The more you avoid...the smaller your world becomes"
DISCUSSING ANXIETY with Suz McDonald
Suz helps her clients to realise the role that avoidance plays in their life and uses various techniques to help them release their fear.
Click on one of the options below to listen
We buy a tree then just throw it away, don’t we? Have you stopped to think that what you have isn’t just a tree? It’s actually a medicine chest in your front room.
Pine, Spruce and Fir trees are powerful natural medicines that are beneficial to our overall health. Our ancestors used them in healing ceremonies and their knowledge made them a staple to indigenous cultures from the steppes of Siberia to the forests of North America.
When you think of pine trees, what enters your mind first? It’s significance holds peace, long life, wisdom and harmony with the earth. Is that the perfect balance?
Here are three simple ways that pine can be used:
Sacred Pine Needle Tea
1. Bring water to the boil
2. De-stem and remove the brown papery sheaths at the base of the needles
3. Chop needles into half inch pieces to help release the essence
4. Place 1 tablespoon of chopped needles into a mug, pour boiling water on top and steep 5-10 mins
5. Squeeze lemon into the tea for flavour or use as a garnish
Benefits: Pine Needles are loaded with Vitamin C along with Vitamins A, E and B and have antimutagenic, antioxidant and antiproliferative properties which can help to prevent the accumulation of cancer cells.
Use as an Oil
Pine Oil has an uplifting and a fresh smell that can help alleviate headaches, pain and boost your mood. It works when the aroma reaches your olfactory system and this alters the chemicals in your brain. Diffusing the oil is the best way to let the aroma circulate the rooms of your house leading to a beautiful fresh smell which may help to ease any congestion and help breathing. Try a few drops in your bath for a rejuvenating experience.
Use the nuts
Have you ever heard of using pine nuts in your salad? Inside the pine cone are small fruits that can be used as a snack which can help to boost your energy, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve vision.
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“Your travelling where?” came the response after explaining where my next adventure lay. “I am travelling to one of the largest, remote and inhabited parts of the planet, the Amazon Jungle”, I triumphantly declared towards my friend Melanie, who was still startled from my outburst. This was a common theme that had a predictable direction each time I told others of my impending fate.
I had decided to finally take the plunge. It was July 2019 and I was 2 days away from boarding 4 aeroplanes with the final destination being the Amazon Jungle, it felt good and I can assure you I was very much looking forward to getting away. I had remained calm, until now, but I think the realisation of just how far away I was going began to hit home. Being calm changed to being excited.
This was not a rash decision by any means as I had been planning my trip for 12 months. I had researched this inside out starting in 2018 after watching a video on alternative medicine in the Amazon Rainforest. It immediately struck a chord within me how the indigenous tribes of South America, Peru in particular, survive in extreme solitude cut off from the outside world and from mainstream society. I was engrossed at how connected these people seemed to be with the earth, nature and the plants within the Rainforest. Their medical wisdom comes from plants and trees and they were talking about a brew that enhanced this connection. You drink this brew in small cups and this provided you with great insight and knowledge. It’s called Ayahuasca.
I have always been fascinated by the power of insight. It’s something that ignites a flame inside me and reading books by Anthony Williams and Caroline Myss provided lots of examples of how they use their insight in a medical sense. Both are able to tell what problems an individual has and what is needed for them to be better, with little, or no examination. My palette was wet with excitement as I had never heard before of such a thing. Imagine just looking at someone and having that insight and knowledge to be able to just know what was wrong. I was hooked and I wanted to learn this for myself. I wished this to be part of my life journey and I strongly felt I could offer this benefit to others. With the kindling smouldering, my journey of knowledge had just began.
The first thing I realised was that, in developed countries, there was a stigma attached to Ayahuasca and there was a lot of bad press and reports of people dying. I understood that this brew was not to be taken lightly. It is not a drug, it is medicine and that is not always clearly stated in the myriad of information that’s available. Images of a hippy retreat with hedonistic ravers sprung to mind listening to loud music and taking copious amounts of illegal substances alerted my cerebral cortex. I soon learned that these images were probably as a result of an overactive imagination which my mother always told me I had. Whilst I understood there was an element of risk, I already had that kindling smouldering and it felt right to continue my research and discover how and where to go to experience this medicine.
Ayahuasca is illegal in some countries but in Peru it’s widely available. In fact, in Iquitos, which is classed as the gateway to the Amazon, is situated in the North of Peru, there is an Ayahuasca boom and the fascination with Ayahuasca has swelled the tourist trade in recent years. This could be classed as the second boom in the history of Iquitos as the city was famous for Rubber production in the late 19th century. When this trade was killed off, the city suffered a decline in fortunes and with little government support the city saw a rise in poverty. The lack of government support remains the same in this decade but the steady stream of tourists wishing to sample a plant based cocktail has swelled the pockets of many local businesses that keep meals on the table for their families.
In some shops in Iquitos, Ayahuasca is sold freely to some in an ethical manner and others I would wage a guess, not very ethical. Ayahuasca is made, largely, from a combination of two plants. Ayahuasca is a vine that attaches itself around the Chacruna plant, the two are mixed together and when drunk can induce a psychedelic episode. If administered in a safe, controlled and ethical manner it can open the doors of your perception and provide higher insight and knowledge of the existence and purpose of life.
My evolving research revealed that there are a number of venues that legally facilitate the partaking of Ayahuasca and they are dotted around different parts of South America. I felt drawn to Peru and I looked at many websites and read a dozen books on the subject to help inform me of the best choice. I settled for a retreat called The Temple of the Way of Light based deep within the Amazon Rainforest, cut off from civilisation. There were no roads and to get there it was only accessible by boat and then by foot. Since booking my flight, bouts of self enquiry flooded my brain continuously, and I questioned…..What am I doing? and Do I really want to go this far for this experience?
In the next instalment I will describe my departure from the UK and my arrival in South America and my first impressions of a truly magical country.
I discovered the wonderful benefits of Camu Camu whilst in Peru. It’s found in the Amazon Rainforest and is sold on market stalls in Iquitos and it’s a great refreshing fruity drink. It comes from a small bushy plant (Myrciaria dubia) that grows by the riverside and its form comes in the shape of small berries. It’s pretty sour to taste so it’s often sold ready-made up or in powder format to mix yourself at home.
It is considered a superfood due to its extremely high concentration of Vitamin C (1) as well as other powerful compounds. Vitamin C helps to strengthen your immune system and acts as a powerful antioxidant by combatting oxidative stress (2) which is a condition that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
When I bought it on the street in Iquitos, Camu Camu was sweetened but now when I make it at home, I just mix it with water and drink it. I used to have trouble with inflammation around my left ankle and I looked at alternative ways to combat the pain. After drinking Camu Camu regularly I found a reduction in pain which helped ease my inflammation. Some studies have shown the Camu Camu is effective in reducing inflammation (3). Other benefits that may be delivered by consuming Camu Camu are reduced weight (4) and healthier blood pressure (5).
As with any other health products, it’s important to do your research, and if your thinking about buying some, shop around and only buy from respected and ethical companies.