Who really does better at therapy a man or a woman?

Women and men can both go to therapy, can both talk about their feelings. It’s not that big of a deal to talk about feelings. I think that people are led to believe that men do not go to therapy, that therapy is something women do.

Why is so difficult in this case then, because we are talking about some serious traumatic experiences, they kind people don’t want to face.

Trauma can effect anyone. Women, men, children, old people…really anyone. It can effect major parts of a person’s life and their ability to function. Some trauma may be so severe that is causes PTSD.

Meaghan O’Donnell and David Forbes and Darryl Wade and Tracey Varker and Dzenana Kartal and Sarah Hetrick (I know that’s a lot of people really do a great job breaking it down for us in their meta-analysis Gender Difference in Outcomes Following Trauma-Focused Interventions for Post traumatic Stress Disorder: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

While the literature confirms it, yes women do better in therapy, the research does show that both men and women do better after trauma-focused therapy.

The criteria

  • an average age of 18
  •  70% had to have a major diagnosis of PTSD
  • 48 controlled trials were included here
  • 25 had both males and females
  • 18 had just females
  • 5 had just males

How did it work?

People in the study were put into random groups the groups were as followed:

  • Wait list or no intervention (nothing being done or waiting for something to be done)
  • Usual care, (normal therapy)
  • Attention control (nonspecific supportive counseling)
  •  Pharmacotherapy (drugs)
  • Non-trauma-focused (skills-based interventions)

What was it they found?

Overall women do better in trauma-focused interventions for PTSD then men

Why might the findings be limited?

  1. The diagnoses just had to be PTSD and the results of the trauma could be different a woman/man that was raped compared to a woman/man that had been in the war
  2. Maybe the treatment responses weren’t the same because expression of emotion is different for the men then the women…who knows?

What’s should be next?

The next steps should be looking at what is specifically helpful for each gender in therapy. Is it overall more helpful for men to use exposure therapy, while for women it’s talking? This could help more people get what they need.


Wade, D., Varker, T., Kartal, D., Hetrick, S., O’donnell, M., & Forbes, D. (2016). Gender difference in outcomes following trauma-focused interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 8(3), 356-364. doi:10.1037/tra0000110