Lessons from the Depths: Scuba Diving and Psychotherapy with Men

Lessons from the Depths: Scuba Diving and Psychotherapy with Men

by Jeff Sharp

An insightful look into working with typical male concerns in therapy, including pride, shame, armoring, and competitiveness.
I've had my psychology license long enough to have acquired a reasonable amount of confidence practicing my craft. But as a recently licensed scuba diver, I'm quite conscious of my limitations underwater. When I joined friends last year for a dive in Monterey Bay, I knew I would face cold water, rough surf, a rocky coastline, entangling kelp forests, limited visibility—and the unlikely but nonetheless unnerving prospect of encountering a great white shark. But I didn't predict the exhilarating, challenging and frightening events that would shake up and later clarify my sense of self, my relationship to others, and my goals as a psychotherapist.
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Jeff SharpJeff Sharp is a psychologist in private practice in Oakland, California. He has taught at numerous graduate schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, and supervised interns at several clinics. He has been involved in men's work in many forums throughout the past thirty years. Among his recent publications are articles on the training of psychotherapists, the crucial role of mentoring in our profession, and attachment and psychotherapy. Jeff became involved, fairly late in his life, in cycling, scuba diving, and percussion. He finds that these activities, along with raising a family, provide an inspiring complement to practicing psychotherapy. For further information about Jeff visit his website at www.DrJeffSharp.com.
Jeff, I enjoyed reading your article and now understand how your personal diving experience has helped you to perhaps better understand your patients and how it has shown you as well how vulnerable we all really are especially when faced with a "get through it or suffer the consequences" type of struggle. Thanks!
Christopher Caamaño
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CE credits: 1
Learning objectives:

  • Describe Sharp's perspective on competitiveness and shame in adult men.
  • Identify common manifestations of competitiveness and shame in male client presentations.
  • Discuss Sharp's approach to helping men work though these emotional challenges in psychotherapy.
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