A Male Therapist.

            When my daughter first started Kindergarten, we waited anxiously to find out who her teacher would be.  Our school kept us in anticipation as they didn’t post the classroom assignments until the night before class started.  Considering a busy life and the excitement and importance of a good night of sleep, our family made the decision to just wait until the morning of school.  Afterall, we love the school and went through a lot of trouble to get into it.  How bad could a teacher they choose be?

Morning arrived, and like all first time Kindergarten moms, I was just as nervous as my daughter was.  We looked at the classroom assignment together and saw the last name, Wassather.  Ok, maybe a bit hard to pronounce, but could be shortened to Mrs. W.  We walked to class expecting a loving, kind, smart, friendly and qualified Female teacher.  To our surprise we were greeted at the door by a Male Teacher!

I will admit, I was shocked, Men don’t teach Kindergarten?  Where was the soft cuddly female I expected?  Mr. W. could see the look of dismay on my face and all I could say was, “we were expecting a female”.   Mr. W. simply replied, “well I am a male”. Internally a chorus of thoughts were running through my head, my daughter will never feel comfortable.  She will never trust a man.  She is scared of men!  This will never work!

At this point, I should call myself out, yes that is judgmental.  Yes, it was sexist, and yes, it was a stereotype, but hey I grew up in a world where men didn’t teach Kindergarten!  I had to really take a close look at what my own biases and judgements were.  I had to remind myself that I trust this school and that they trust him.  While glad that our school allows the parents to stay for a while the first day, I was skeptical but put on a strong face.  This will be ok, I thought.  It has to be.

And it was!  My daughter had an amazing 2 years, (our school has a K/1 combo class).  Our school is also a parent participation school so I got the opportunity to work with Mr. W, see him in action and to really change my biases.  He was one of the most caring Kindergarten teachers I ever met.  He had excellent classroom management skills, the kids learned a lot and he handled things well in each situation he was presented with.  The parents and I would giggle later when we reflected that in Kindergarten Round Up, the school decided to take all of the crying children and put them in the classroom with the kindest teacher who could meet their needs and help them with the transition in a kind, consistent and firm matter.

I am grateful that I didn’t listen to my judgements and my biases and took a chance on a male Kindergarten teacher. My daughter learned so much and I would have regretted not having done so.  As I think now that he was the perfect first school teacher.  I had to really re-evaluate my way of thinking becoming more aware of stereotypes and sexism, and how ingrained and prevalent they are.  My children are both comfortable with men now and can see them as kind, not scary.

I have been forced to look at this issue in my life once again as a Therapy Practice owner.  I like to have a diverse staff, I hire from different cultural backgrounds and thought it would be great to have both male and female therapist.  However, over the years I noticed that it was very difficult to fill up the schedule of my male therapist.  Turns out, I am not the only one with a bias.

In my profession, female therapists outnumber male therapists.  I think of the wonderful men that I’ve worked with over the years and how qualified they are but how much harder they have to work to get children and teen clients.  When I  worked at a school, the male counselors were treated differently than the females.  Female therapist were allowed to cover the window on our door for privacy, but the men had to make sure anyone could see in at all times.

Is this sexism?  Is it an unfair bias?  Is it founded on reality?  These are hard questions to answer.  However, I can’t deny that men are the perpetrators of abuse and women the victims, the opposite is true as well.  Women have been found to be perpetrators and men the victims as well.   The #metoo movement has called to light some of the horrific things that have been tolerated for far too long.  I support this, however I don’t want male staff to be demonized due to it.

It is an ongoing struggle for me to make sense of the existence of Sexual Assault, and balance the need for a guarantee of safety in an unsafe world.  What I have learned is that I have to make every effort to judge the person on who they are, not what gender they are.  Afterall it is my reputation on the line.  I have worked hard over the years to make sure that I am picky when hiring and that I only allow therapist to work for me that I trust.  Still I take safety precautions and work very closely with any new hire male or female, evaluating their work, asking for feedback from their clients etc.….

For a child or teen who is looking at therapy, seeing the person qualified for them is the most important thing.  Research shows that goodness of fit is the most determining factor in the outcome of therapy.  I hope that my staff will be looked at for their qualifications and skills and not their gender, race, sexual identity or age.  All therapists have something unique to offer and giving someone a chance who might be different then you expected can be an amazing opportunity for growth.

By:  Ingrid Higgins, MFT

Campbell Teen is proud to have two of the most professional, skilled and empathic male therapists on our diverse staff!
Mitchell Gale, AMFT (#115000)
(408) 628-0532
Telehealth Video Conferencing Link:

EMDR Therapy
Faith Based Counseling
Adolescent Specialist
Now Accepting New Patients!

Nelson Saez, ACSW (#75017)
​(408) 628-0532
Telehealth Video Conferencing Link:

EMDR Therapy
Parent Coaching
Adolescent Specialist
Now Accepting New Patients!