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American Psychologists Publish Guidelines For Working With Men And Boys

The American Psychological Association has developed 10 guidelines to help practitioners working with boys and men.

The guidelines cover a range of issues and encourage psychologists to deepen their awareness, knowledge and skills in key areas, including the nature of masculinity, traditional gender roles and cultural diversity.

“For most leading causes of death in the United States and in every age group, boys and men have higher death rates than girls and women the age-adjusted death rate has been found to be at least 40% higher for men than women,” the APA states.

“The psychology of men, however, is rarely taught at either undergraduate or graduate levels. Therefore, compelling evidence exists supporting the need for guidelines for psychologists who provide services to boys and men.”

The ten guidelines include a focus on improving boys’ educational outcomes; the promotion of involved fatherhood; a call to tackle the social problems that men and boys face, such as the high male suicide rate; a recognition of the need for psychologists to develop male-friendly services; and a commitment to work at a systemic level with legislators and policymakers to improve the lives and health of men and boys.

The guidelines have drawn criticism, however, for their focus on concepts such as “traditional masculinity ideology”, “patriarchal masculine norms” and male “privilege and power based on gender”.


The APA’s ten guidelines for working with men and boys are listed below:

Guideline 1

Psychologists strive to recognise that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.  

Example application:
Psychologists are encouraged to expand their knowledge about diverse masculinities. Psychologists also can explore what being a man means with those they serve.


Psychologists strive to recognise that boys and men integrate multiple aspects to their social identities across the lifespan.

Example application:
Psychologists strive to understand the important role of identity formation to the psychological well-being of boys and men and attempt to help them recognise and integrate all aspects of their identities


Psychologists understand the impact of power, privilege, and sexism on the development of boys and men and on their relationships with others.

Example application:
Psychologists can address issues of privilege and power related to sexism in a developmentally appropriate way to help them obtain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to be effective allies and potentially live less restrictive lives.


Psychologists strive to develop a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence the interpersonal relationships of boys and men.

Example Application:
Psychologists recognise and challenge socialisation pressures on boys and men to be hypercompetitive and hyper aggressive with one another.


Psychologists strive to encourage positive father involvement and healthy family relationships.

Example application:
Psychologists strive to promote healthy father involvement and father engagement in treatment with their children and families.


Psychologists strive to support educational efforts that are responsive to the needs of boys and men.

Example application:
Psychologists can initiate changes in practices that will enhance the early school adjustment of boys who are struggling academically


Psychologists strive to reduce the high rates of problems boys and men face and act out in their lives such as aggression, violence, substance abuse, and suicide.

Example application:
Psychologists strive to understand the multiple cultural and individual difference factors that lead to aggression and violence in men and boys.


Psychologists strive to help boys and men engage in health-related behaviours.

Example application:
Help boys and men build health-promoting behaviours such as resisting social pressure to eschew health concerns, engaging in self-acceptance, fostering a positive identity, engaging in preventative medical services, and developing the habits of healthy diet, sleep, and exercise.


Psychologists strive to build and promote gender-sensitive psychological services.

Example application:
Psychologists also may strive to identify ways that psychological services can be more adaptive to the ways men have been socialised.


Psychologists understand and strive to change institutional, cultural, and systemic problems that affect boys and men through advocacy, prevention, and education.

Example application:
Psychologists strive to disseminate research findings to legislators and policymakers to inform public health policies and funding for research, prevention, and intervention efforts that can enhance the lives of boys, men, and their families.



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