Original Articles

Young Men as Peer Counsellors: What's Under the Overcoat?

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 20, issue 4, 2010, pages: 569–579
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2010.10820415
Author(s): Nick DaviesUniversity of the Witwatersrand,, Gill EagleUniversity of the Witwatersrand,


The aim of the study was to investigate masculine role identifications amongst male volunteer peer counsellors. Based on focus group interviews with young men (n=12) aged 16 to 18, the juxtapositioning of masculinity and the role of counsellor was explored. The data were analysed by means of critical thematic analysis. The boys displayed considerable anxiety concerning how they might be perceived as counsellors and engaged in two main interlinked discursive strategies in order to retain an alignment with the masculine. Firstly, the young men worked hard to make associations between dominant masculine identifications and occupying the role of peer counseller and emphasized their masculine ‘credit’. Secondly, they attempted to masculinize the actual activity of counselling, in part by divorcing it from its associations with the feminine.

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