Dan Griffin on his NCAD Message about Men’s Trauma
Furthering a “Trauma-Enlightened” Conversation
Dan Griffin, an author and international expert on men and trauma, has a bone to pick with the behavioral healthcare system, and he’s not afraid of how controversial it may sound. “I don’t think it’s men who are failing treatment; I think it’s we who are failing them,” he said recently in an interview with Kristin Walker on Mental Health News Radio—one that proved provocative in its candid discussion of gender, the danger of man rules’ rigidity, and the concept of conscious masculinity. Listen to a list of all of Dan’s podcasts:
In effect, Griffin says the mental health system as it stands now doesn’t understand men’s trauma or socialization and he’s pushing back against labels to look at the depth and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the services that are currently offered. His solution to such? A trauma-enlightened paradigm.
Griffin says we’re approaching a sea change in the conversation about masculinity, particularly in how we address the intricacies of how male socialization impacts both men and women. If you ask Griffin, it’s a multi-faceted problem requiring multiple solutions, and he’s hoping to spur all of the above by furthering the conversation on men’s violence and trauma.
“Gender is such a critical part of our world and our conversation—and that goes for men as much as for women,” he says, highlighting the importance of talking about all sides of this issue. “If the conversation is men against women or women against men, we will never get anywhere. We have to be all in this together.”
“It’s been a pleasure to have the chance to talk with Dan, as he’s really spearheading a men’s movement,” says Kristin Walker, host of Mental Health News Radio, on the importance of furthering this conversation, which she admits can be uncomfortable for some. “Especially considering a good portion of our listeners are now men, it’s an important conversation to have and one that we’re happy to further with Dan, both in previous interviews and hopefully in the future.”
Griffin led a discussion on this issue at this year’s National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) in Denver, Colorado. We recently caught up with him to find out what main points he wants everyone to know about this evolving mental health conversation.
MHNR: What are the main points of your message from NCAD that you want people to be talking about?
Griffin: First let me say that I was really honored to one of the highlighted speakers, particularly as part of the “Gender Matters” track that CeDAR in Colorado has helped to create that exposes the invisibility of men, in some ways, in the conversation of gender. It’s a newer (and now permanent) track that I really appreciate for allowing a space for a message like mine, which is a controversial message and one that I’m certainly not hearing in other places, on tackling the complex issue of men’s violence and trauma
Because we have not had a good understanding of trauma, particularly men’s experience with trauma, I think a lot of our efforts toward dealing with men’s violent and abusive behavior has been misdirected, which can have severe negative consequences on men and their families. And when we bring a “trauma-enlightened” perspective into the conversation, we have a whole new way of dealing with men’s behavior and men’s experience and can better respond to men, both clinically and relationally.
MHNR: In your view, what’s the best way to go about spreading that message? Is it about training treatment providers, spreading awareness through media, or both?
Griffin: It’s such a critical message because men have such a huge impact on their families that I really think multiple avenues are critically important. This isn’t being discussed in the media. There are tons of stories about men’s violence, but very few if any connect the issue of trauma to those stories. And treatment providers aren’t trained to work with men effectively, let alone the complexities of men’s behavior.
MHNR: Was NCAD a place for you to start that conference with people, to further that national conversation?
Griffin: It was an opportunity to help initiate some of those conversations. Unfortunately, it was less a conversation and more a soliloquy. But the hope is it can generate a conversation in more people. We had a really engaged audience, and so I left feeling hopeful. Whenever I speak to people, I work to make sure that people leave with tools that they can immediately apply to their practice. So it’s not just increased awareness, as important as that is, but it’s about actual practice.
For more of Griffin’s thoughts on this issue, check out his interviews on Mental Health News Radio. For detailed guidance on how mental health professionals can facilitate “trauma-enlightened” concepts, find out what he’s up to next at www.dangriffin.com.
Tags: Gender Matters, Get Mentalhealthified, Kristin Sunanta Walker, Kristin Walker, Male Socialization, Men's Violence & Trauma, Mental Health Is Real, mental health news radio, Mentalhealthified, MHNR, National Conference on Addiction Disorders, NCAD, Not Changing the Name, Trauma-Enlightened, What is Mental Health?