Kevin is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who uses a strength-based approach rooted in authenticity, compassion, and understanding. His approach is informed by Attachment Theory, Family Systems Theory, and Emotionally Focused Therapy. See what he says about working with dads and fathers in this therapist highlight.
What have you found to be the most rewarding part of working with dads?
It has been inspiring to be a witness and a holder of space for dads to share their struggles, hopes, and desires while they search for connection and meaning. Being with them as they go through this process has been such a joy for me.
What have you found to be surprising about working with fathers?
I have been surprised at how much I enjoy working with fathers. Even though I am not a father at this point in my life, being with these fathers has been very meaningful because I get to hold space for dads and fathers who express raw emotions, the struggles of sleep, the joy of seeing their child walk, or say "dada."
What's your perspective on mental health for fathers?
A few thoughts come to mind, the first being that it seems rare to find a group where fathers can meet in a group setting and express vulnerability. Even out in the world, I have heard several dads share how difficult it is to walk up to another father and start a conversation about what it's like to be a dad, and sometimes they walk the other way and aren't even sure why.
Women tend to be more open to self-care. What are some ways that men can self-care?
Defining what self-care is is an important start. Self-care means I value and want to take care of myself. Self-care can sometimes be a buzzword that can lose its meaning. Taking care of oneself doesn't always mean isolating yourself from others. It could mean spending time opening up, being honest and authentic with a friend, co-worker, or trusted person. One of the most influential and important aspects of self-care is relationships.
Have you noticed more dads thinking about their mental health these days than before? If so, how?
This is a tricky question because there are few spaces that exist specifically for fathers to gather. In addition, the stigma around mental health continues to create barriers. When I see fathers and dads join the Dad's Group, it can become a place where dads can let their guards down and share some of their inner experiences, successes, and struggles with others in similar positions. It is such a wonderful sight to see.
What advice would you give young families about "doing all the right things" when it comes to parenting?
There is no way to get it perfect. Reading books, watching videos, and learning from other parents can be very helpful, but also looking into what aspects of your upbringing worked for you and what didn't might be the most valuable. Spending time (even 10 mins) thinking/reflecting on your own upbringing and values, the ones you hold dear, and the ones you don’t - is a great starting point. Also, remember that whether you are having your first child or fifth, there is an adjustment that has to be made by everyone. This adjustment can be challenging at times. You will need support from others, from family and friends.
What advice would you give to dads about "being the perfect dad?"
There is no such thing as the perfect dad. Some dads have learned to be attuned to their own emotional experience, which allows them to be more aware of their family’s needs. "Having all the answers" has been valued far too highly; it can be so powerful to hear a father say, "I don't know," which can create intimacy because there is honesty in the "I don't know." There are things none of us fully understand, and when we get honest about it, it allows others to see our humanity.
How can dads best celebrate themselves?
Take care of yourself - mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Society puts a lot of pressure on fathers, and fathers put a lot of pressure on themselves. Taking care of yourself will directly pour into other areas of your life. You don't have to throw yourself a party (unless you want to) to celebrate or honor yourself. Even going to the doctor, or taking a walk can be an act of honoring or celebrating yourself because fatherhood is a demanding job, and dads deserve to be fulfilled and valued outside of all the hard work they do.
Want to work directly with Kevin?
Kevin currently facilitates two support groups, Dad's Group and Adjusting To Parenthood. For more details, click here.