The impact of men’s psychotherapy groups on intimacy and connection in heterosexual men’s relationships with other men

Kenneth D. Manning, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

This dissertation has been moved to the following series:


This study was an exploratory investigation into the impact of men's psychotherapy groups on men's abilities and experiences of relating intimately with other men. Ten men who had participated in such groups for a minimum of six months were interviewed about changes in their perceptions of intimately relating with men within and outside their groups. Drawing on two bodies of literature, one describing gender role conflict, and the other describing close relationships, it was hypothesized that men would experience reduced gender role conflict if they were aided in developing skill in intimately relating. "Self-in-relation" theory, deriving from the women's development literature, was discussed for its usefulness in understanding mutuality in relationships and gender differences in orientations towards relationships. A Mutuality Typology including the steps, components and benefits of mutually relating was developed and refined by this study, and used in the data analysis.

It was found that men's psychotherapy groups can have a significant impact towards helping men develop skills in relating mutually, experience mutuality with other men within the group, shift in their orientations towards valuing, pursuing and maintaining intimate connections with other men, and improve their relationships with men and women outside their groups. Results indicated that increases in the experience of mutuality and in abilities in relating intimately with other men contributed to reductions in relational avoidance, isolation, alienation and negative comparisons with other men and gender role norms and increases in self-esteem, self-acceptance and empowerment in relating with others.

The results suggested that there is a strong relationship between reported changes in the experience of mutuality and relational abilities and reported shifts towards greater connection with other men. The results also suggested that there is a strong relationship between reported changes in orientations and relational abilities and the stage of group development described by the men in the study.

Much data describing those events and conditions that facilitated changes in men's relational abilities and orientations was also reported. That data generated numerous, potentially valuable implications for the forming and running of men's psychotherapy groups. Implications for further research were also discussed.