Manscentrum was founded in 1988 by a group of people who, professionally and in their private lives, had experienced the need of men for therapeutic support after divorces and other dramatic events. The purpose was to provide support, counseling and short-term therapy for men, and to work for improved cooperation andunderstanding between men and women.
The center is run by a private foundation economically supported by various public and private sources. The day-to-day operations of the center are maintained by 3 professional counselors and a part-time administrator. Each day the center recieves a great number of telephone calls. Information and services are provided by phone, and, in many cases, appointments are made. There are about 450 visitors per year. Sometimes women join their men, or even come alone, but family therapy is something not normally offered.
The center´s work is focused on finding solutions for the problems described by the helpseeking man himself either on the telephone, or at the first appointment.
The average visitor has found himself caught in something he cannot handle. It goes far beyond his experiences, and makes him feel helplessly lost. Divorces, family violence – all sorts of life crises – cause emotional trauma that in many cases make men unable to work, to sleep, or to eat.
The problems delt with include everything which might occur in everyday life. The group of men visiting the center closely reflect the social and proffessional makeup of the town and its surrounding areas. Middle aged men are in majority, but there are also very young men, as well as much older men.
Manscentrum does not offer long-term psycotherapy. Only a few men visit the center more than 10 times. After 3-6 meetings most visitors are able to handle their emotional and practical problems well enough to proceed on their own. When long-term professional treatment appears to be necessary, the man is advised as to where he may find it.
In general, any man may contact Manscentrum, but, problems already being handled somewhere else are normally not dealt with. A man exhibiting problems that obviously require other professional expertise will be referred elsewhere. Manscentrum, therefore, fills in the gap that remains between already existing official and private institutions.
The advantage of a politically and religiously independent center such as Manscentrum is that it serves to provide immediately required help only. The counseling is not regulated by any official legislation. No journals are kept, and all information about men visiting the center is kept confidential. The cost per appointment is 300 Skr. All together this helps men make their way to our doors. The alternatives, in many cases, probably would be for a man to get lost in the grey zone between social services and psychiatric care, or to turn instead to a bottle of something.
Men who struggle with problems of violent, or aggressive natures find their way to the center in groving numbers.In 1996 these men accounted for close to 25 % of all visitors to Manscentrum. The victimes in most cases are close relatives, mostly women and children. We also meet men who are violent to strangers on the street, in the pub, etc. In these cases, most victimes are other men. At Manscentrum individual counseling is still the most common treatment for men who batter. Since 1991, men are also given the opportunity to take part in a specially designed group therapy program. The methods used are modeled on several basic theories taken from The Center for Violence Intervention and Research in Montreal, Canada. Manscentrum has also developed a good set of approaches that, in most cases, help men to stop being violent. These ideas are now spreading throughout Sweden, Norway and Finland.
In 1995 Manscentrum took part in the creation of a Swedish network for studies on men. The network is a forum for scientists and others with an interest in men´s lives. Manscentrum also plays an important role in the International Association for Studies on Men (IASOM).