Mental Health Support for Men
Listen in on Episode 10 featuring David Koppisch, LSW (Licensed Social Worker, Therapist, Community Organizer, Social Work Educator), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional and HYR Podcast Producer).
PART 1 – Getting to know Heal Your Roots Wellness therapist, David Koppisch, LSW, and his journey from a social impact and community policy focus to a career in clinical therapy.
PART 2 – Men’s Mental Health, Helping Identify Emotions, and Cultivating Relationships Outside of the Household.
PART 3 – The Effect of How We Were Brought up, Childhood Relationships, Development, and Growth into Adulthood by Identifying Feelings within the Body to Better Express Emotion and Needs.
Content Considerations: Mentions of Mental Illness.
Some episode highlights include…
Tools to Navigate Transition, Particularly Within a Career
Cultivating Friendships Outside of the Household and Processing Negative Emotions
Building emotional support and connection. Figuring out what or who is their support network outside of a romantic relationship?
Expressing Emotions for Men or Men who Identify as Male
Social Emotional Learning and The idea of/need for Emotional Education for Young Children – What Is Social-Emotional Learning? | Committee for Children (cfchildren.org)
More About David…
David has been working in the social work field since 1994 when he earned his MSW from Temple University. He has spent the majority of his career as a community organizer in Philadelphia. He’s also served in policy advocacy, fundraising, and communications roles for several nonprofit organizations. He was co-founder of POWER: Interfaith Movement, a coalition that advocated for school funding equity, criminal justice reform, and living wages for service workers. He also served as director of strategy for a university-based action research center focused on student basic needs insecurity. Since 2012, David has been a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice.
David is a licensed social worker and recently began expanding his practice to include clinical work with individuals, couples and families. David lives in Philadelphia with his wife, two children and their little dog Franny.
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Kira Yakubov 0:00
In Episode 10, we have David Koppisch Licensed Social Worker and the newest team member of heal your roots wellness. In this episode, you’ll get to hear us talk about men’s mental health, helping them identify emotions and the importance of friendships outside of family. In addition, we also go through what it’s like to transition particularly within a career.
Hi, I’m Kira Yakubov, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice. Every episode, we talk with a professional from the mental health field to learn more about their approaches and specialties, and also their journey of becoming a therapist. In this podcast, we’ll uncover a deeper look at the world of therapy from new perspectives. You will meet the therapist of heal your roots wellness practice, and trust the colleagues from the community tackling mental wellbeing. Were your go to Network for practical and professional insight in mental health. Subscribe for new episode releases every other Wednesday.
Daniela Galdi 1:11
Hello, listeners, this is Daniela Galdi, your co host with Heal Your Roots Podcast.
Kira Yakubov 1:17
This is Kira Yakubov. David, thank you so much for being on today.
David Koppisch, LSW’s journey to therapy.
David Koppisch 1:21
Good morning. Thanks for having me. I’m David Koppisch, one of the new therapists with heal your roots wellness. Glad to be here.
Daniela Galdi 1:28
Congratulations, David are joining this fabulous team, I would love for you to tell our listeners a bit about why you started in therapy.
David Koppisch 1:38
Well, my journey to therapy, I’m coming to therapy a little bit later in in my career, relatively speaking. So I went to social work school way back in the early 90s. I got my master’s in social work from Temple University. And I was primarily interested at the time in what we call into the social work field more macro social work. So I was particularly interested in systems and how systems impacted people and how people’s environments and social environments impacted people and how policy impacted people. And so most of my work for almost 30 years in Social Work fields had been in that sort of macro area, right trying to work with groups and communities around how do we sort of change policies and change systems so that people can experience better lives and more equitable experience of life. And so did that for many years, was involved in lots of very interesting campaigns around policy issues here in Pennsylvania, here in Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, around issues of school funding and criminal justice reform and things of that nature. And through those years, I began to realize that one of the main things that really excited me about that work not only sort of working on some important kind of policy and macro issues, I began to realize that what really excited me and what I think I was perhaps best at in that kind of work was the one on one connections, the building relationships with people, hearing their stories, and really trying to help them sort of turn their own narrative and their own histories of struggle, and an often discrimination and oppression into positive change for themselves, their family, their communities, etc. And part of that work as a community organizer, essentially, is what I was mainly working is was a lot of what we would call one on ones. So our job was to go meet people and talk to people knock on doors, try to get them to talk to us and kind of hear what it was they cared about and whether they wanted to join with others to make some change. And again, as I reflected back on that work after a few decades and realize, boy, that’s the part that really turns me on. That’s the the one on one connections, the hero again, hearing people’s stories and trying to you know, ask the probing question to get folks to sort of open up and move from a place of either, you know, pain and frustration with what was happening in their community or in the world to to action, you know, that was always sort of brewing in the back of my mind, then the pandemic hits, right. It all of us. And like many of us, I began to sort of reevaluate, you know, my relationship to work, and my calling, as it were. And I just began to think, well, you know, what, I never actually pursued clinical work as a social worker, I had my MSW but I said, Well, you know, let me get my social work license at least and let’s Have that just to see what might might you know what that might bring later. So that happened, the pandemic sort of unearthed some, or highlighted, I guess, some challenges in my own family, in myself, mental health challenges and mental health challenges and the people around me. And I began to think the calling to do more direct clinical work, sort of grew from that as well, you know, I began to think, Okay. These are some issues hitting close to home. And, you know, given I’m, I’m, in my early 50s, have given my life experience and given my family raising a family experience, I began to think, is there a different way that I could be useful to people is there a different way that I could put my skills to use, and I just sort of felt the calling more and more towards doing doing therapy work. I’ll go way back for another influence, if you don’t mind. My dad was actually a psychiatrist. He was a family systems psychiatrist, and actually studied under one of the one of the sort of founding fathers of family systems therapy, Marie Bowen. And I remember growing up hearing stories of Marie Bowen, and my dad, you know, meeting him and going to his workshops and trainings and whatnot. And so my dad worked primarily with a work in public health settings, public hospitals, and worked with a lot of folks who were had substance use issues and other challenges and folks coming out of incarceration situations, and then he worked with some families on the side. But that was always in the background growing up in our house, just sort of like it was in the it was in the air, you know. So I think that certainly influenced me going into social work in general. But now, you know, several decades later, more specifically, you know, doing more direct work, doing therapy work directly with with individuals, couples, families. So yeah, so that’s sort of part of my journey.
Kira Yakubov 7:28
So much great stuff there. It’s almost like you have all the perfect components, and experiences and backgrounds to be such a great therapist. Even just having that systemic view, like firsthand, being in the community, understanding the culture, understanding how real life things impact an individual or a couple or family, and then being in that room, helping them therapeutically as well, I feel like that’s such a beautiful marriage of the micro and macro. And then also, I’m like, fangirling, over here over your dad studying under Bowen, because that was like, in my textbooks in grad school, like, what I refer to my case studies. So I think that is so cool that you were exposed to that.
David Koppisch 8:13
Yeah, I feel pretty, pretty lucky. And I didn’t know at the time, you know, this is like, wow, this is what my dad does, you know, but now realizing that was pretty, pretty special. It was kind of a special time and interesting time, I think, right? In the mental health fields in the late 60s, into the 70s. So yeah, I do feel pretty, pretty lucky that I had that my dad has an influence. And, and I appreciate you saying about the marriage of macro, macro and micro. And that that actually made me think of something that was also part of my thinking in the last five years or so. Having so heavily focused on macro for a good number of years, feeling like as a social worker wanting to round out my practice, you know, to have a more of sort of a 360 view or you know, 360 practice. So, hopefully, that is what I am able to bring into sessions is that is that sort of marriage of some macro understanding and some, you know, systemic understanding and, and the micro one to one work.
Daniela Galdi 9:27
That’s beautiful. I’m so inspired by you, David. I have a question though, if we can share for our listeners a little bit about who your father did study with and who this person is in the mental health world.
David Koppisch 9:39
So and Kira, please add and I’m sure I’m not going to get it all right. But Marie Bowen is was, you know, is still considered right one of the founders of family systems therapy, he was a psychiatrist. He created an institute which was Since still might be connected with Georgetown University in Washington DC, with others, right, and you know, a lot of these founding names get a lot of credit when it was many people involved, right. But he certainly gets a lot of credit for, at the time, a new way of working with couples and families, a more what we now a lot of us call sort of a more systemic view. And the idea that one person in a family who’s experiencing challenges and troubles, the way to approach that person is not just at with that person alone, right? The idea is that everyone, whether the fat, whatever the makeup of that family, whatever the structure, or the what it doesn’t, you know, doesn’t have to be a nuclear family, any whatever kind of, we all come from some kind of a family. And each of our individual, you know, life experiences and challenges are shaped by that. And if we’re going to sort of help somebody address a particular issue, whether it’s a substance use issue, or whether it’s another kind of mental health issue was that if we’re not actually looking at how the family is interacting, and if we’re not looking at how patterns of behavior have been passed down from generation to generation, often without us knowing, then we are likely not going to be successful in helping that person and that family kind of addressed their challenge.
Each person plays a role in creating the culture in the family
Kira Yakubov 11:34
Yeah, absolutely. And it was what helped me open my eyes up, I mean, grad school alone was like, incredible. But seeing that, I think, correct me if I’m wrong there, but if you remember, but I think that there was studies going on, or there was treatment centers for folks who had schizophrenia. And so they would take them out of their homes, and they would treat them in the facilities. And they would get better, they would have more coping skills. And then when the individual returned back to the family, the same symptoms, the same issues would return. And so the therapists and psychiatrists at the time started to recognize that it’s not just the individual that is struggling, this is also a symptom and an expression of what’s happening within the family system. Right. So each person plays a role in keeping the system going, whether it is healthy or helpful, or if it’s maladaptive. Right, so each person, whether it’s one of the parents, or the siblings, or a grandparent, whoever is involved, they all play a role in kind of creating the culture in the family, the rules in the family, how each person feels like they can behave, or what they feel like they’re supposed to do within the family structure. So it was really wonderful to kind of see like, okay, it’s yes, you can work with one person and help them. But if they return to the same environment, that’s creating the need for them to express themselves in this particular way. It doesn’t necessarily matter, we need the whole system to be a part of the healing process. And I think that’s when they started bringing parents and grandparents, and then recognizing that there’s hierarchies within the family. Yeah, so that was really interesting, too, to see that there needs to be a hierarchy within the family. So the parents or the grandparents, whoever the adults were, they need to be on a different level. And they need to be working on the same team and the children, or whoever the younger miners are within the family, or a different subculture of the family. Right. So if one parent aligns with one of the children that totally throws off the hierarchy with the other parent, or with the other siblings, so it was really interesting to see how all this plays into family therapy and helping people out
Daniela Galdi 13:53
in terms of the interactions and everything. How does that come into play? When you work with individuals now one on one?
David Koppisch 14:01
Well, I, if it’s an individual session, you know, they’re coming as an individual, not as a couple or family. I still really try to emphasize with them and you know, get the story from them in the first few sessions about what is what is their family story? How did they relate to their family growing up? You know, tell me that story, what it was like to grow up, what was the what were the interactions? Like, do you have siblings? What were they like? How did you relate to your parents? How do you relate to them? Now? You know, how did they respond to you as a child when you had either, you know, triumphs or or, you know, troubles. And sometimes folks are really eager to talk about that. You know, sometimes people love talking about what that was like growing up and in other times you you get the sense that it’s kind of painful for folks to talk about that sort of gently helping people look back and really take a ticket. examine what it was like and what those interactions were like and, and, and what they’re like now, if they’re adult, you know, adult children, with adult siblings, what are those interactions like now, and help folks to make those connections between their own behaviors, their own thoughts, their own emotional life, and those interactions and those relationships with with family members, even if they’re not in the room, and they’re not a part of the therapy, the other people and maybe these people are actually some of them might be to see strength to help folks see that those played, and probably still play in a role in how they’re living out their lives.
Kira Yakubov 15:45
Absolutely. And I love that you mentioned what that looks like now, because I like to ask couples or even an individual when they talk about their family want to ask, before you answer this question, how would you describe, let’s say your father growing up? And how would you describe your relationship and who he is now, because those two are very different, right? The way I would talk about my dad as a kid versus now. And just recognizing that across the lifespan, we change, right? Like, our behaviors, our opinions, our perspective, how we treat other people changes throughout life. And our parents are humans too. They’re also changing and growing. So I love that you mentioned like before, and now too, because that’s really important too, is our relationship with, you know, our parents or family now can look very different from before. But those primitive experiences and perspectives can still shape how we interact with the world now, even if that relationship has changed. I know that you have a special interest or some experience working with men and men’s mental health. Is there. Is there any kind of approach or something that you find that is the most common kind of topic or something that you go into with men, when you do discuss mental health with them?
The sources of a healthy emotional life can narrow for some men over time
David Koppisch 17:04
I find and, you know, this is my experience. So I’m hesitant to make sort of broad, sweeping generalities, right, but in my experience, and it’s connected to my own personal experience, right, I think that Men of a Certain Age, we can sometimes have challenges around a couple things, the sources of a sort of healthy emotional life sometimes can narrow, I think, for some men over time, for a couple of reasons. You know, there’s been a lot said and written about male relationships as they get older, right. And so a lot of men, as they get older, sometimes have fewer and fewer relationships, maybe then they did right out of college right out of their 20s or something like that. And a lot of men, you know, sort of find themselves maybe feeling kind of isolated, maybe if they had children, and if their children are grown and out of the house, then there, they start to really feel it. Right. So I think there’s one area that I like to talk to men about in terms of like, what is your what’s your support? Network? Right, who do you hang out with? Right? If they’re in a relationship if they’re married their relationship? Who outside of that, right is important to you? Who outside of that are you spending time with? And that’s something I do encourage couples in general, sort of, like, try to make time outside of that relationship, which might sound counterintuitive for some of them. But really healthy generally, right? You need to have other sources right of emotional support and emotional connection. So I think, with a lot of men and people in general, but it’s a lot of looking at, are they putting some time and energy into cultivating relationships, friendships, in their 40s 50s 60s, etc, that and, you know, you, you, you start to hear that, that sometimes it’s a it’s kind of a struggle, sometimes for men. So I do like to spend some time there were some men, there is, I think, still sort of a struggle of figuring out making sense of what their relationship and you just mentioned it a minute ago care what their relationship with their father, right. What was that? Like? Do they feel sort of compelled to sort of mimic the way their father was emotionally? Now that they’re in adults, or are they feeling like you know what, that doesn’t work for me or that kind of masculinity, that kind of fatherhood. That’s not that doesn’t work for me anymore, but I’m Not sure how else to be? Because that was my only model, for example. So I do I do have those kinds of conversations with clients and figuring out, okay, well, let’s let’s look at, what are the positives that you’ve found positive traits, if we’re talking about their relationship with their father, let’s look at the positive traits, let’s look at things that you do want to sort of carry forward, right, and carry to if you have children to your children, or just living out your life, and let’s look at what things are not, aren’t just not gonna work for you anymore. And it’s okay, to sort of separate those, it’s okay to sort of be a different kind of man or different kind of father than your father was. So there’s a lot of that, I think. I’m just thinking of one one man in particular that I’m working with. And the pattern and I think this is fairly common, the pattern with him is that he feels like, he needs to be taken care of everyone, all the time. And his whole life sort of is consumed by what seems like a never ending treadmill of always worrying about and taking care of other people. And, you know, that has served him and and has served the people around him well, but it he is beginning to see that he is sort of exhausted, right. And he is starting to see that he doesn’t have much else outside of worrying about and taking care of and feeling like he has to financially and emotionally take care of, of all these people in his life, from his first marriage and the second marriage, other people in his family of origin. And so helping him sort of think about okay, the role is provider, right, the role which has been key to his identity. How do we preserve that? And how do we help you think about, you know, self care and other things that are going to help you sustain that over time? Because he’s starting to realize, like, he’s getting rundown, he’s getting, you know, he’s, he’s having physical issues. He’s, he’s feeling exhausted, and not really making time for himself, essentially, when it comes down to it. So the basics of how, you know, talking with some men about, are you taking five minutes for yourself in the morning, before you jump into work or jumping to doing something for the kids? Or, you know, are you are you literally taking out five minutes? Can you start with that, to begin to build in a practice of taking care of yourself?
How to help men see that there are different ways that they can take care of themselves
Daniela Galdi 22:48
Hearing that, as a woman, especially, you know, it really adds another element of compassion. And so I really appreciate that we’re talking about this today, and that you’re able to hone in with men on their health in this manner, and helping them to see that there are different ways that they can take care of themselves. And without any negative feelings towards that any shame any, you know, I feel, and this is just my own personal observation, but the men that I have spoken with, within my work, it’s, you know, it can be shrugged off, like, be fine. And it’s not always the case, you know, we all need to be able to take care of ourselves and pay attention to our needs, and give it give our needs the attention that will help us to feel all the positive things you were mentioning. So I do have a question for you. In terms of earlier, when you mentioned you transitioned into getting this new degree right, and taking this new chapter in your life, were there things that you leaned into for yourself while taking on this whole new chapter? Going back to school? And all of that?
David Koppisch 24:04
Great question. The short answer is yes. You know, I think this is one of the wonderful things about therapy, one of the many wonderful things about the work that we are able to do as therapists and it’s the privilege that we have of really doing this kind of work because I really do feel like it’s a privilege because I think it in other other professions may be similar, but when I’m experiencing doing therapy work is that it can if we are open right as therapists if we are self aware, right, and an open to sort of the, the mutuality, you know, that I think does happen in therapy, whether we acknowledge it or not, and the reciprocity that I am constantly. I sort of want to thank the clients I’m working with because they give me insight. They helped me He reflects on my own, you know, personal relationships in my, my marriage and my relationship with my children and my relationship with others, you know, in helping them sort of look at what’s going on in their life. It does, it does sort of make me reflect, oh, okay, you know. So I have continued to learn and continue to have my own insights about, you know, what kind of what kind of spouse? Am I right? And how can I improve? And what are my own emotional patterns or habits or things I learned or didn’t learn, you know, growing up that I need to look at right and need to see again, what’s working and what’s maybe not working, in openness to continually change and get get be, again, a better a better spouse, a better father, a better friend, all of that, right? Yes. It’s definitely making making me think about all of that.
Why men have a harder time maintaining friendships and relationships outside of the family
Kira Yakubov 26:07
It’s actually funny, I think that I’ve noticed this trend, the more that I have paid attention to like my ideal client, or the type of presenting issues or, you know, clients that I like to work with is that it almost feels like a parallel, right? Like, these are issues or topics, or patterns that I either also partake in or have partaken in before that I’ve really worked through like past versions of myself or now, right. And I think that it is such important work. And it’s like a constant reminder, especially when I work with couples where I see a similar dynamic, like, oh, I can really see from like, a third perspective on bias, what this is like for each of them. And even thinking about my own relationship, or marriage, right, like, makes me a little bit more compassionate or empathetic, like to see it from different perspectives. So I think it does really help. It helps us as personally and professionally, both ways. So our clients provide a lot for us, too. It’s not just a one way street that we’re helping. So I definitely agree with that. And I want to go back for a second, when you were discussing kind of the main concerns that come up for men. And so I’m curious of what you’re kind of, whether it’s theory, or you know, from your own experience, why you think it is that men have a harder time maintaining friendships or relationships outside of the family. And if they’re, I’m assuming there might be a lot of maybe guilt or shame around wanting some personal time, or wanting to do something that’s fun, outside of the provider role, or identity that they’ve kind of put themselves into society has put themselves into their family expects of them, right? Like, what that what that might look like,
David Koppisch 27:54
oh, boy, you know, there’s many, many factors cultural value. And again, all of this is shaped by, you know, culture and family of origin and, you know, maybe faith upbringing, if that was present there for a person and what kind of, you know, career they might be in. So there’s, you know, many, many factors to, that contribute to, I think, a man sort of emotional and relational health. I do think for some, as you said that that provider role is certainly prominent for a lot of them. So again, if they had been the, or at least one of the main breadwinners in households, right. And if there were children in the households that they were responsible for, or partially responsible for, that, that those two roles can certainly push out much else, right, and become maybe their only identities, right. And when those things change, right, again, if there are children, and those children grow up and move on, that can be a major crossroads for for for a male who felt like, you know, that was their main role, you know, helping them helping bring them up helping put food on the table helped bring money into the household, and now those children hopefully are, you know, on their own. So what is what does that mean, right, if I spent so much time and of course, you know, all parents, I think experiences to some, some extent, but if I spent so much time 20 years, or more, maybe just focused on other people in the family, and now, you know, I find myself I’m 50 or 60 years old, you know, and now what, where do I put my energies, you know, so I think there’s some of that, as we know, is therapists and I think as we try to teach folks remind folks that maintaining an emotionally healthy and kind of relationally vibrant life takes time and energy, right? It takes work it takes you have to cultivate these things, you have to put time into reaching out to people, we have to put time into spending time with other folks outside of the household. And you mentioned, you know, maybe some guilt around that, I think it is hard. I think with men’s, I’m just thinking of my peers, most of us, you know, our parenting in a different kind of way that our, that our parents did. And I think there was some very positive expectation among a lot of fathers of my peer group of, you know, being more being more involved, right being trying to be more equal in childbearing child trying to be more equal in sharing the work of, you know, keeping up a household raising kids, which is certainly positive. That might have also cost us some challenges around, again, maintaining cultivating other kinds of relationships outside the household. So it has raised some some new challenges for us.
How do you communicate your need for friendships outside of the home?
Kira Yakubov 31:19
So I’m just thinking about my dad, right? It just makes me think about like, when we came to America, all he did was work that was like, that was it, it was his main role was just to provide to make sure that we were all okay in a country where we’ve never been in, he never spoke the language didn’t know the culture, we’re learning this day by day. And he didn’t have a lot of friends, I didn’t see him hanging out with anybody, he was either working or at home sleeping, or eating or hanging out with us. And that was on repeat, or ever, basically, I mean, we would hang out with other family friends that also had kids. So it was like out of convenience for other family members. But I couldn’t say like, I knew who my dad’s best friend was, which is so strange, because I think for a lot of women, or even thinking for myself, like going throughout life without a best friend, or without a group of women that I can really bond with. Sounds really hard. That sounds really tough. Even if you have a partner, like just having that outside relationship, how you’re saying is so significant to our emotional, relational, mental health, physical health, all of that.
So I mean, I, that does add a lot of compassion, empathy for me thinking about that.
Daniela Galdi 32:31
yeah, and it raises the question for me, David, do you have any suggestions in terms of someone communicating this to their partner?
David Koppisch 32:41
This need for or this desire for? I need some other friendships? I need some other relationships here. That kind of thing? Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say that if a client were to come with that concern, or that question, say, look, I see the need that I really do need to put some time and energy into cultivating, you know, some friendships outside of my household. But I, you know, going back to the previous point, like, but I feel a little guilty, because I know that every hour or two or evening out of the house means I’m not home, you know, helping with the kids or helping my spouse or partner, whatever. So I think I would sort of help that person think through a couple things. One is, do do they think about how, over time, that time spent cultivating these other relationships and these other positive, healthy connections outside the household? How that will sort of yields positive dividends back, you know, in the, in the, in that relationship in that household, right? If they’re not already thinking about this, can they think about? Boy, you know, if I go out with this one friend of mine, and we go, whatever we go play tennis, or we go, whatever, you know, whatever the thing is, just to spend some time together, that’s going to make me when I come back, feel a little bit more energy than I might have for the kids, for example, that’s going to lift my spirits, so I’m going to be in a better mood, that means I’m going to be a better partner, I’m going to be a better spouse. So I think I would help them think about, like how to frame it that way, you know, like I can, I know this is hard and it takes a lot of logistics. Again, if we’re talking about a family with maybe young children, for example. It does take work it takes a lot of logistics right for one of the of the couple to be out of the household for for several hours. It does i i remember that. I’m sympathetic to that. And I’m working with a couple right now. Now it’s just so hard for them. It’s literally just almost it feels impossible for one of them to get out of the house for a few hours, which I don’t think I ever would have understood before I had my own shelter. And it wouldn’t have made any sense to me. And now that I’ve been through that I can very much empathize with what they’re going through. So we’ve had this conversation now it’s couples therapists we’re having, you know, together. And we’ve had that conversation, okay, and it will be hard, let’s, let’s help think through. And maybe it’s few weeks out, maybe it’s gonna take you a few weeks to even think about how one of you can get out for four hours on a Friday night. But let’s think of the positive benefits that that might accrue for all of you if you can make that happen. And let’s make sure it’s it’s, it’s, you know, roughly equal, right, that both, if it benefits a couple of the partnership, are both able to have those other outlets outside of the house. But I think thinking about this will make me a better you, will you you will like me better, I will be a better partner, I can cultivate some other part of my life, right? Of course, within balance within reason. I mean, there’s certainly the opposite problem or challenge that some couples have, right, where one one partner is, is too much having a life outside. And of course, it’s a whole other set a whole other conversation.
How do you help men work through their emotions when that was never modeled?
Kira Yakubov 36:28
I love that. So it’s indirectly right. In the long term, this will indirectly benefit you to Yes, both partners. I love that. That’s awesome. But it’s good it is it’s thinking about long term, right. And it’s not just in the now. But like you’re saying that it’s tough when you have priorities and young children who need you in this moment. And I think that’s important too, for helping us not get lost in that one identity. Right? It sounds like having that separate relationship. And having those other friendships outside the home is yes, I might be a father, a provider, a partner, all these things. And prior to all of this, I’m still this other person and have these other interests and have these other friends and can relate to them in such a different way than my partner or kids. So I think that’s important too, is helping not lose that other identity, or that other part of you through the process of you know, the lifespan and growing through a family. That sounds really important.
I wanted to talk a little bit more about men or individuals who identify as male expressing emotions, because I know you mentioned earlier kind of looking at the relationship that they might have with their father, and whether that is a role or that male script that they also want to take on and embody or not. And if you grew up in a not you specifically, but if someone grew up in a home where their father may not have been very verbal about their emotions, or if they didn’t even feel like their father had emotions outside of let’s say, anger, right? Or just either between happy or anger, right? I think that I see that a lot. In I don’t want to generalize, but a lot in men or older generations, it’s either anger or they’re happy. And then everything in between is a blur. And so I’m curious of how do you help men work through their emotions, when that was never modeled for them growing up? Or if it was modeled? Not in the most healthy way?
Identifying your partner’s emotions
David Koppisch 38:29
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. I think there’s a very simple tool that I often start with, which is the feelings wheel. So maybe some of the listeners are familiar with that. And if they’re not, right, it’s become a sort of a popular tool. And I, it certainly can help in sessions, right breaking out. And if folks are not familiar with that we can, we can maybe share a link or something to that. But there’s there’s different versions of the feelings we have, which basically are a chart that give starting with some of those basic emotions, four or five basic, you know, happiness, sadness, anger, but then giving sub variations of all of those and sub sub variations and so you basically have a kaleidoscope of very nuanced identified feelings and showing that visual to a client to say, Okay, it’s sounds like I’m hearing, I’m hearing anger pretty loud and clear. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s, you know, that’s, that’s some I hear that I get that. Let’s see if there’s something else underneath that. So not to kind of deny the mad or, or say, you know, no, you’re not feeling anger, you’re feeling these other things, but you say, okay, in addition to that, let’s see if this other feelings underneath that and and shouldn’t do that. And so showing them that feelings wheel and at first sometimes people are little, it feels a little, I don’t know, simplistic or a little, I don’t know, juvenile or something. But mostly over time, they’re like, Okay, yeah, I haven’t never thought of some of those words on this chart to describe what I’m feeling. I never, it never occurred to me to go a little deeper or think a little bit more specifically about this thing that I’m calling anger. And so, you know, so that chart is can be very helpful as a starting point. And then you and then after they can take some time, you know, maybe it gets to, I don’t know, maybe the feeling the point was jealousy, or envy or something underneath the anger and say, Okay, well, let’s talk about that. You know, let’s tell me about what is that like, for you? What does that feel like? So another sort of strategy is kind of connecting. And I think this is, I don’t know, if this is maybe harder for men, I’m not sure. But I it’s sometimes is feels a little challenging for men to locate that feeling in their body to say, Okay, where are you feeling that? And at first, again, that sometimes feels a little awkward for for, for men, clients that I’m that I’ve experienced? You know, it’s a little awkward to say, Well, where are you feeling that in your body? You know, it feels it’s not how we often talk about we were many, most of us were raised to talk, but again, with some with some practice, right? I’ve seen, you know, they can begin to say, oh, yeah, I, you know, I’m feeling that in my chest, you know, when I see a co worker, appearing, like, they’re getting some kind of a promotion that I feel like I should get, and I’m not getting or that I deserve something like that. I say I’m angry. But now I’m realizing it’s more about, you know, jealousy, or now I realize it’s more about loss, you know, because that was a goal I had, and I’m not getting that position. So it’s really about a feeling of loss, for example. Okay, well, where does that Where are you feeling that? Right? Where are you carrying? That? It’s often it’s, you know, tightness in the chest, or tightness and shoulders. And so then you can, you know, again, begin to say, Okay, well, let’s, let’s focus on that. So, you know, slow, you know, gentle step by step, not sort of pushing, you know, pushing too fast around, kind of identifying the emotions. For some it might be it feels might feel a little much too much at first. So, you know, slowly inviting them, showing them that visual, having them identify that kind of thing. And then if it is a couple, right, if that’s sort of maybe one of the challenges in that relationship is that there’s, maybe he is being told that he is not kind of expressive enough and not sharing enough that it’s sort of like, okay, now that we have a little better sense of what you are feeling a little bit more nuanced and more specific sense of what is going on inside of you, when your partner says X or does y. Now we can let’s practice. How do we talk about that? Right? How can we say that? And how can we identify, and this is a, you know, a big part of, I guess, Emotionally Focused Therapy, you know, so how can we talk to our partners from a position of, well, this is how I’m feeling. versus, you know, well, this is what you did to me, right? Or you, this is what you are? Right, it’s, well, this is how I felt, when I heard you say, that, that kind of thing. So hope that answers your, your question there.
Kira Yakubov 44:10
Absolutely. No, that was a really great breakdown. I mean, it sounds like really taking the time to fill the foundation of emotions, naming them being able to recognize them, then being able to express them in in an effective way, which I wish we were all taught. Right away. I know, we’re talking about men specifically. But I think on a grand scheme, I wish we were all taught this because I didn’t learn this growing up. I mean, I learned it however, the culture and my family discussed emotions, which we didn’t write. So it was I think that this should be a class in like elementary school, right? Like, what are your emotions? How do you acknowledge them? How do you talk about them? I wish I hope that that is something that will soon be implemented in our school system, because I think that’s going to be really valuable for people growing up, just having that knowledge that That’s such a great
Daniela Galdi 45:00
perspective, I really hope that we add that into to the curriculums happening, because, you know, we have health class, we have gym, and it makes me think about what David mentioned, like the physiological aspect of like, where are you feeling it to brings in a whole other realm of identification for, for those emotions? And, gosh, I just keep thinking, to your point here, like, how effective could it be to be taught this as children? How to navigate these, how to identify them? In our thoughts, how to identify them in our bodies, and all of that. So I’m really glad that came up. And I mentioned the physiological two, because in episode nine, actually, David, it’s interesting, because we talked a lot about like nonverbal communication and things like that. And it parallels so well. So I love that you brought those elements into it as well, that being a strategy that you that you can hone in on as well, for your clients and the couples,
David Koppisch 46:03
I find that with some of them, and I’m currently working with two, there’s a tendency to sort of operate cognitively primarily, right? operate from the head, right. And, you know, from an, from an analytical perspective, right, so talking about what is going on in their life, or with their partner or with their, their, whatever challenges that are bringing them to therapy, purely from kind of an intellectual stance, right, an analytical stance, and it’s helping some of the men to sort of not, you know, not dismiss that, but to add to it, an emotional way of looking at what’s happening as well. So, and it’s very interesting. So I will ask, sometimes, well, how did that make you feel? Or how are you feeling now? What was the feeling like when that happened, or when they sent this to you? And I and I, many, and again, you know, how we were taught or just how we were brought up? I get not a feeling in response to that question, but a but a thought, right? Or an analysis. And so it’s like, okay, I hear that. Let’s bring it back to the feeling the emotion and again, it’s, it takes practice with a lot of folks, right. And it’s the sort of like, ABCs, right, affective, behavioral, cognitive, a lot of clients and a lot of men working with so much in the cognitive, right? Well, let’s, let’s, let’s open up a little bit to these other ways of being right. We’re not just cognitive, and we’re not just emotional, we’re behavioral and cognitive and emotional. So let’s, let’s shoot, let’s see if we can give you some more tools to, to, essentially, more, have a more wide experience of your of your life. Right. That’s really essentially what’s what you’re doing. But it’s very interesting, you know, how do you feel and you get a? Well, I thought that okay, well, let’s try that again. How did it make you feel? Well, I, you know, again, analytical response. So, practice gentle reminders. That’s, that’s, you know, that’s what it takes. For a lot of folks.
The role models in the households and their impact around emotion.
Kira Yakubov 48:40
It’s really funny. I’m just thinking next, I have two older brothers. And I mean, I’m the youngest girl. I’m very emotional. I don’t know if you guys as the therapist, right. So I’m a lot more in touch with my feelings. And when I would talk to them about things, it would be like, well, this is this is what it is, this is the logic, this is the rationale. A you might feel this, but it is not going to impact the results. So push it away, have a different time for not in front of me. And let’s talk about the logistics of this, where it is what it is, right? I’m just being pragmatic about it. And it’s so interesting. I’m curious of it. Do you think it’s because there is a a discomfort of feeling the emotion associated with the thought or that’s more of a protective mechanism? Or they just haven’t practice being in the emotion as much because we all feel it? Right. It’s just how it comes out.
David Koppisch 49:29
Great question. I think my conscious that it’s the last two things that you said that it’s for some, and I you know, everybody’s different. So for some it could be protective. Right? Is it and again, this is I think this cuts across all genders. I think there’s some protection in sticking with the intellectual way of responding to things right or intellectualizing things. It’s a little maybe little distance provides some protection. And that maybe that’s a that’s an adaptive, you know, technique that that actually might be needed for that person. So you have to think about that. Right. And it’s also I think, for a lot of us, that’s what we’ve learned, like you said, learning to be that sort of logical analytical role as a male, you know, these are again, these are careful not making too broad generalizations along gender lines. But certainly that’s, that is something that many men, I think, feel like they sort of learned, grew up with, or was expected of them. And I And again, it goes back to the earlier conversation about Yeah, what was what were the role models in the households, right? What was the How did that shape? There? If again, we’re talking about male clients, adult male clients? How did growing up? What were the models in that household from parents and other adults? Around emotional expression? Certainly, that is a factor.
Kira Yakubov 51:12
And I only say taking it, when you hear them, hear some clients sticking with the logic of it, or like, I feel the thought, or I feel this thing? I think it’s funny. I mean, it can be any gender, right? It depends on the couple, it could be either way. But I like to ask them, Are we talking logically? Are we talking emotionally right now? Because a lot of times, we use the same words, and we think we know the meaning, right? But we don’t. Someone might be talking through their emotions, and someone is talking through the logic, and the words are making, like, I know the words you’re saying, but it’s not landing, because we’re speaking in a different language. Right? So it’s like, okay, like, can we have a moment for just the logistics? And keep some of the emotion out? And then can we have a conversation with just the emotions and like, now, how can we blend these in a way that each person has space to bring up whatever is coming up for them? So I like that you bring it back to that? Because it is it’s a different language or an experience altogether?
How many times do you use the phrase “I’m going to be more mindful of that”?
David Koppisch 52:09
For sure, there’s an expression that one of my mentors has used that I think, and maybe it’s a popular expression, but when you hear a client say, I feel that dot, dot dot, you know, you’re going to get a thought, not a feeling. So I feel that they are ignoring me. Right? I feel that this person didn’t deserve the promotion that I got, right? Well, those are not feelings, right? Those are sort of factual statements of, you know, I feel that. So as therapists, I think when some and we all do it, right. I feel that we can pause and say, Okay, let’s take that out. And see how we could finish that sentence. Right. I feel sadness, I feel regret. I feel guilt. You know, that. As opposed to, I feel that that generally gets you to a thought, not a feelings.
Daniela Galdi 53:08
Yeah, that is very interesting. I’m curious, I’m going to be more mindful of that. I’m curious as to how many times I express my feeling, using that I feel that statement, and really tried to pull back and hone in on just isolating it to I feel, insert emotion. It’s usually like five emotions. It’s not only just thought. Well, this has been amazing, David, and I love the perspective you’re giving I love that we were able to learn more about you and your journey and becoming a therapist, your background, Kiera, you, you brought in so much about the dynamic between families. And both of you just going back and forth on that. It’s really amazing. And so I just want to take this moment to ask, do you have anything else David, you’d like to share with the listeners either about your approach and specialties? We can even go even personal with? You know, is there something you want to share with them that they might not know about you? That can be golden? No?
David Koppisch 54:23
Sure. Well, it’s related to what we’ve been talking about. But another area that I’m very interested in working with folks on men, but all clients, this issue of life transitions. Having experienced several in my own personal life, in terms of family life transitions, and work and career change, changes. And I do feel especially now right and it’s been a lot of talk around how the pandemic has really forced so many of us to sort of rethink work rethink our Relationship with work. It’s a it’s been for many people not not all have had the ability to do this. But it’s been for many people a chance to kind of re reinvent and try different different things. So I’m very interested in that sort of particular issue with with folks of a doesn’t have to be sort of middle age, it can happen in almost any adult age. But the sort of, I feel like I need to make some kind of a work, change career change in my life, and I’m not sure how to go about that I’m afraid to do that. Or I spent 10 years training for this kind of work and have been in it. And now I realize, oh, my gosh, I hate this, right, what what do I do? You know? So, I see, I see a considerable amount of that. Also, again, going back to the sort of people who have had children of a certain age, and maybe they’re older, and again, they sort of help support that family for 2030 years doing a certain kind of work, and now they find themselves, Oh, wow, I, maybe I could do something different now. We’re all working longer, it seems like that has since been the trend over the last many decades, right? Maybe, maybe some of our parents or grandparents retired at 60, or 65. And I don’t know, too many people are able to do that as much anymore. So I think a lot of us are thinking, you know, boy at 50, and this was sort of my experience, right? I could have a whole other, you know, potentially Right? And, and hopefully, we have a long healthy life, you have a whole other career. Now, when that might not have been thinkable, maybe a generation or two ago. Right? So helping folks think through those transitions, right, allowing people to, to imagine a little bit different, a different way of being. And then even very specific within that is, you know, pretty much my whole career is spent has been spent in the nonprofit world, and mission driven sort of values driven people and organizations. And, you know, I think that worlds is also going through a lot of changes. I think that there’s a lot of talk about the sort of the way we maybe treat folks who work for those organizations who are tending to get paid less than maybe in the private sector, but because it’s mission driven, that’s sort of, you know, the reason why we do that work, I think there’s been a lot of sort of rethinking and reckoning almost in that in the whole nonprofit sector that I had a lot of first hand experience with. And there was a lot of people, again, with the pandemic, also questioning like, Well, boy, I have I have these values, I want to live out my values and work. I thought it was through this kind of nonprofit work. And now I realize there are just maybe as many frustrations there as I find in other sectors. And now I’m confused. What what do I do so very interested in that whole sphere as well.
Kira Yakubov 58:16
This has been the fastest hour, I feel like I could talk for another go into more depth. This has been awesome. David, thank you so much for sharing all this valuable insight. Is there. Is there any and you don’t have to Is there anything personal that you’d want to share about yourself that clients might not know, or just something fun that you want to let the listeners know about you?
David Koppisch 58:37
Sure, well, I grew up the youngest of seven children. So big family, and a lot you learn a lot in a big family. Bring those kinds of experiences, to my work as well.
Kira Yakubov 58:55
Very cool. Thank you for sharing that. That’s I had three in my family. I thought that was too much. But
Daniela Galdi 59:02
all right. Well, David, thank you so much for speaking with us today. And we are so excited to share this episode and then have you back in the future. So before we sign off, if you can just share with our listeners, how they can contact you or get in touch follow along in any way. Please do.
David Koppisch 59:20
Sure. And thank you both. Thank you Danielle. Thank you Kara. This has been great. It’s been a privilege to share and I really thank you both would welcome anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about whether I could be a good fit for you as a therapist, please reach out info at heal your roots wellness.com is probably the best way to to find me.
Kira Yakubov 59:44
So if anybody wants to read a little bit more about David’s bio can head over to www.healyourrootswellness.com Thank you for being here and thank you for listening and I hope everyone has a great day.