Arturo hesitantly visited TFC’s office, reportedly being “very embarrassed” and skeptical about counseling. You see, as a 40-year-old Mexican immigrant, Arturo was raised in a machismo culture, which strongly influenced his traditional beliefs about masculinity and gender roles. His “machista Mexicano” identity was one reason it took him so long to seek treatment after experiencing continued physical and mental abuse at the hand of his wife. It was finally after his wife of 15 years had a child from an extramarital affair, that he sheepishly turned to TFC for help.
To say that it was difficult for Arturo to share his story is an understatement. While he seemed to feel more comfortable as the sessions progressed, Arturo continued to be nervous, but was optimistic about continuing counseling. During the third session, our therapist introduced Arturo to grounding and relaxation techniques, and gave him a grounding stone as a reminder to keep him feel centered, relaxed and at peace.
Arturo admitted to the TFC therapist he initially thought the main benefit of the counseling might have been to receive a character reference for his immigration process, but after securing the letter, he expressed a strong desire to continue with counseling. Arturo ecstatically updated his therapist – he could sense his former anxiety dissipating, his insecurities no longer the center of his daily thoughts. He was utilizing the grounding stone and felt its impact in his ability to manage his anger and impulses. He was able to problem solve like he never had before due to new techniques he’d learned.
After five sessions, Arturo let his therapist know how much she had helped him with confidence and self-esteem. He was so proud, he actually told his coworkers—mostly Mexican immigrant men, with that same strong sense of traditional masculine pride he came in with—that he had been coming to counseling. He even unabashedly told them about his grounding stone, and how helpful this has been for him.
During his most recent session, Arturo shared that he keeps his grounding stone with him at all times and is planning to make it into a keychain. He also continued to report significant improvement in his overall emotional state. Not only does he report control over his anger and impulses, but he has allowed himself to feel, accept, and express other emotions. He continues to use the grounding stone to manage anxiety and insecurities. Arturo is always thankful after each session, and reports willingness to continue making change.
Arturo’s transformation is notable. He has new perspectives on relationships and is hopeful about a future and about overcoming distress. Most importantly, he began to challenge and decrease rigid beliefs about men. He unknowingly promoted awareness about mental health, by sharing his story with other men with his similar views. With Arturo’s immigration letter, he is in the process to obtain a U-visa, which will provide him more opportunities for a better life.
About TFC's Dame La Mano Program
TFC’s Dame La Mano (DLM) program addresses the mental and physical health outcomes and overall functioning for Latino families by providing counseling and case management. DLM utilizes bilingual/bicultural workers, possessing an abundance of experience and knowledge in working primarily with Latino immigrants. Workers are very aware that Hispanic culture is very diverse, and clinical applications cannot be generalized for the whole population.