Thursday, December 13, 2007

Should females treat males?

There are many more female than male therapists and most patients are male. As we all know men and women are different, though old-fashioned science-ignorant feminists and post-modernist pseudo-philosophers would argue that gender is a purely social construct. But there can be no doubt that the body is different, the brain is different, and the mind is different. Luckily, nature has given us just about enough overlap in interest and abilities to live more or less happily side by side. :-)
I think few female therapists have the ability to behave outside of their nature, and naturally put more emphasis on areas and behaviours that work for them but that do not work for most men (with some exceptions as usual). Men do not mind talking about psychological and social issues, but we have an internal timer that rings after 15 minutes. We want to move on to something else. We do not need someone to listen to us, but someone that can help us solve our problems. We don't need someone who is constantly telling us Well done, but someone who shows us what we should do and in no uncertain terms tell us when we get off course. We want to do things and not talk about things.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi
This may be irrelevant to this post. I just wanted to say that drinking alcohol actually reduces my stuttering a lot, actually it become obsolete. But of course it's not a solution.

Now, I have noticed that people who stutter are usually smart, do you agree with me on this?

thanks

Tom Weidig said...

Some people also report that their stuttering is decreases with alcohol, but everyone reports that too much alcohol makes you and everyone else stutter more!

I am not sure stutterers are more clever. I think it is just a biased sample, because only smart stutterers write my blog, go to self-help groups, and so on... :-)

Anonymous said...

What a machist post.

Lorenza said...

I'm not sure this is a good argument. I would assume that a good speech therapist would be able to communicate in a way that is relevant and helpful for a either gender. Your portrayal of female therapists is based on stereotypical gender differences. In other words, you'd need some real research on what men need from a speech therapist and whether male speech therapist are more successful in treating other males, vs. female therapists...

Tom Weidig said...

Hi Lorenza,

>>> I would assume that a good speech therapist would be able to communicate in a way that is relevant and helpful for a either gender.

I agree a good therapist should. But this does not imply that female therapists in general do so!!

A provocative question: By your argument, you would also let a male policeman handle a rape victim, because a good policeman should be able to communicate in a way that is relevant and helpful for either gender?

>>> Your portrayal of female therapists is based on stereotypical gender differences.

Of course it is. And the reason is very simple, because these gender differences are real.

>>>In other words, you'd need some real research on what men need from a speech therapist and whether male speech therapist are more successful in treating other males, vs. female therapists...

Ideally yes, but practically not feasible to see whether there is a gender effect, so need to rely on anecdotal evidence.

Based on my experience of therapist, I really do think that female therapists are just not as effective with most male patients.

ac said...

I think your sample size is a little small, Tom. You personally may have found that you don't work well with female therapists, but you can't assume that all males have the same problem.

I lol'd when I read your "not practical" line. If there is a meaningful difference in treatment outcomes for male stutterers based on the gender of their therapist, then it should be measurable.

Sheesh, after your complaints about how stuttering makes it harder to land chicks you'd think you'd be happy about the imbalance!

Anonymous said...

I think it generally has something to do with rapport and that the techniques taught are effective. Rapport is what you are mostly talking about--and it's very important. Trust and affinity...
My son has seen both of the "certified" (I really do not remember what organization / specialty did the certification) specialists in our state. Both were men, even a male SLP student working under the first therapist. But the environment, or techniques, rapport just did not work. The second specialist is an amazing fit for my son. Great rapport and expertise.
Lynne

Lorenza said...

Hi Tom,

Some thought provoking answers, I hope:

>>> I would assume that a good speech therapist would be able to communicate in a way that is relevant and helpful for a either gender.>>>I agree a good therapist should. But this does not imply that female therapists in general do so!!

So, perhaps the problem is that there are few speech therapists that know how to deal with fluency disorders with a special approach for each gender? If that's your argument I might agree with you... I think there are few speech therapists that know how to deal with stuttering, let alone whether the subject is a male or female stutterer!

>>>A provocative question: By your argument, you would also let a male policeman handle a rape victim, because a good policeman should be able to communicate in a way that is relevant and helpful for either gender?

I don't think you can translate the "policeman scenario" to that of a speech therapy setting, for one reason: In the "speech therapy scenario", the female therapist is the one unable to communicate to the male patient appropriately, while in a "policeman scenario" the male policeman might be very capable of handling the situation with great tact and respect, but the victim might be at a too vulnerable state to deal with the maleness of her inspector. Thus, gender itself is a problem and plays a primary role in the "policeman scenario", while it's a secondary factor for a speech therapist as long as she/he is able to communicate effectively to a patient of the opposite sex.

>>> Your portrayal of female therapists is based on stereotypical gender differences.>>>Of course it is. And the reason is very simple, because these gender differences are real.

I'd say there are few women (and men) that fit stereotypical descriptions 100%. There are many women that are rational and straightforward, as well as men that are sensitive and caring.

>>>In other words, you'd need some real research on what men need from a speech therapist and whether male speech therapist are more successful in treating other males, vs. female therapists... >>>Ideally yes, but practically not feasible to see whether there is a gender effect, so need to rely on anecdotal evidence. Based on my experience of therapist, I really do think that female therapists are just not as effective with most male patients.

The fact that proper research is not feasible does not justify for someone to jump to conclusions based on one's own experience, though... I'm a med student so I'm particularly aware of it, I guess...

I do think you might have a point in what you wrote. What caught my attention is the "absoluteness" of your arguments, which may just be a matter of wording. How about: "Do female therapists need more training in handling male patients?"...

Lorenza said...

And yes, I do stutter!

Tom Weidig said...

The absoluteness of my arguments is more a matter of rhetorics, because I present the typical case. I am also sick of adhering to the political correctness. Yes, I could have written: Should female therapists to be trained to deal with male patients? But I feel like I need to restrict my thinking and tip-toe as I need to be careful that I do not hurt anyone's feelings.

Of course, no-one is 100% man or 100% women, as there is a natural variation. Some men are very "female" and some are extremely "male", but the majority is just "male". The same for women. So I am talking about the typical man and the typical woman.

Tom Weidig said...

>>>I think your sample size is a little small, Tom. You personally may have found that you don't work well with female therapists, but you can't assume that all males have the same problem.

I said that this is only based on my experience and my understanding of men.

>>> I lol'd when I read your "not practical" line. If there is a meaningful difference in treatment outcomes for male stutterers based on the gender of their therapist, then it should be measurable.

OK. I am saying that such an experiment is difficult to do, because

1) not even standard trial are easy to do due to relapse, adaptation to the environment when recordings happen, natural fluctuation of speech, and so on. I WOULD BE HAPPY IF RESEARCHER SOLVED THIS ISSUE!!

2) looking at gender differences is even a step more difficult, because you need to filter out the effect of the therapist. For example, a female therapist might be more effective that a male therapists because she is just a better therapist despite showing gender bias but would have been even better being male.

3) you need to exclude the effect of the therapy form itself. Some therapies might be more male... Some therapies might be more immune against gender bias like stuttering medication for example.

So in all, it is difficult to do. Maybe one can do questionnaires.

But if even here, I am not sure it is useful. Many men might say that they feel comfortable working with a female therapist and find it irrevelant, also so not to be then as sexist. So did I. But the more I see and the more I see male therapist the more I realise this difference.

>>> Sheesh, after your complaints about how stuttering makes it harder to land chicks you'd think you'd be happy about the imbalance!

That would be an interesting post question: Would you trade fluency for sex? Fluency for finding the one to marry? Fluency for no penis?

ac said...

>>> That would be an interesting post question: Would you trade fluency for sex? Fluency for finding the one to marry? Fluency for no penis?

I don't know if blogger does polls, but that would be a good question for one. I'd frame it the other way, considering (I imagine) most of us who keep an eye on this blog stutter - what would you trade for 'normal' fluency. Or more concretely - if there was a drug that reduced stuttering symptoms drastically, but made you impotent and infertile, would you take it?

Adrian said...

This is a good thread. There is another issue that has been overlooked. Tom makes a good point about some female therapists inability to connect with male clients. But I think in some cases a male client is either unable or unwilling to connect with a female therapist. Especially with a shy awkward teenage boy like I once was. I was never comfortable with my female therapist at that age. In fact, I asked my parents to find me a male therapist, but, not being in a metropolitan area, they were unable to do so.

I do think a stutterer (male or female) should have access to a therapist of the same sex. But for men this is often not an option.

Anonymous said...

How about working out the statistics of the proportion of male speech therapists/pathologists generally and then the number of those men in the profession who work in the area of fluency disorders. I think it would actually be a high proportion. The special interest groups for stuttering I am involved in have a higher attendance of male therapists than many of the other areas. Sadly there are all too few male therapists/pathologists in the profession.

Anonymous said...

It depends on the country. In Brazil, where I live, there are much more female than male therapists.