Transforming Trauma Episode 054: Men’s Groups, Toxic Masculinity and Developmental Trauma with Dr. Martin Lemon
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In this episode of Transforming Trauma, Brad Kammer, Senior Faculty and Training Director of the NARM Training Institute, is joined by Dr. Martin Lemon, a clinical psychologist who has been practicing in Chicago's western suburbs for more than 25 years. Dr. Lemon’s work focuses on the psychology of men and male identity. Beginning in 2006, Dr. Lemon developed a specific approach for group psychotherapy with men. Since he started his training in the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM), he’s continued to refine his approach to integrate what he’s learned about developmental trauma. Throughout the episode, Dr. Lemon shares how he integrates NARM into his work, both conceptually and in practice. Brad and Dr. Lemon also discuss their own personal experiences of trauma in the context of what is often called “toxic masculinity”.
Dr. Lemon shares about his own experiences that led him towards specializing in the psychology of men. Early on in his career he was introduced to the idea that men lack a broad range of access to what they are feeling. Dr. Lemon sees how this belief has been socialized within our culture and how it can limit the richness of potential deeper relationships for men. Dr. Lemon reflects on the relationship between fathers and their sons. He shares that often men have this notion that if they are nurturing towards their sons they may become “soft” and they won’t be able to make it in the world as adults. Dr. Lemon challenges this notion and explains how this idea misses the incredible benefits that open-hearted connections have. Nurturing, supportive parenting is what builds a capacity for resilience through the challenges of life.
Dr. Lemon began facilitating men’s groups to promote an opportunity for deeper connection between men. Dr. Lemon encourages the men in his group to be curious, reflective, and to allow space for one another to open up in a deeper way, beyond more surface-level connection. A theme Dr. Lemon has noticed throughout the groups is the distinction between persona and authenticity.
Since being trained in NARM, Dr. Lemon has incorporated what in NARM is called “contracting”, meaning asking what the participants want for themselves out of the group meeting. He also is guided internally by the NARM framework and shares about how he is better able to hold the complexity of the group versus only aligning with a “positive” position.
As their conversation comes to a close, Brad asks a meaningful question about what Dr. Lemon believes men need to feel more fulfilled and connected. Dr. Lemon shares that healthy vulnerability is the key to a deeper relationship with others as well as with oneself. Deepening one’s capacity for vulnerability seems to be the antidote to toxic masculinity.
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Dr Lemon is a clinical psychologist practicing in Chicago’s western suburbs for more than 25 years. He has a special interest in the psychology of men and male identity. Beginning in 2006, Dr Lemon developed a specific approach for group psychotherapy with men that he continues to refine in light of insights on developmental trauma that are emerging through his training in the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM).