mental health and the frum community

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  • #607489
    phdmom
    Member

    as a frum mental health professional, and someone who is an FFB and will always ask daas torah if i have a real ethical dilemma, i am bothered by the attitudes that many have in the frum community towards the profession. i understand that ppl are often wary of things that they dont know much about, or there might be ppl who have had a bad experience who may be biased towards all therapists due to a singular incident.

    in all of my education and training, i have not learned anything that was contrary to halacha or hashkafa. in fact, the theories of change in counseling are very much parallel to the halachos of teshuva, as well as working on your middos. the recommendations for marital counseling are very much in line with taharas hamishpacha.

    unfortunately, the problems in society filter in to our communities, whether diagnosis, or the average marital and family problems which can lead to divorce or children going OTD. it bothers me tremendously that therapy has gotten such a bad rap in the frum community, and oftentimes, people will consider therapy only as a last resort when things have gotten really bad.

    what’s up with that? what needs to happen for people to understand that therapy, with a licensed specialized therapist, can really help a situation, and sometimes save a marriage or a life, before things become so bad, that it’s often difficult to come back from.

    #933946
    funnybone
    Participant

    Find a talmid of Rav Avigdor Miller and you will get an ear full. He had heard of some horror stories with advice that psychologists had given and was anti-psychologist.

    #933947
    genuine
    Member

    A few horror stories do not reflect on an entire profession. PhDMom, +1!

    #933948
    phdmom
    Member

    @funnybone, i would be interested to hear more specifics, because R’ Avigdor Miller was a smart man, and even if there were some horror stories, i would be surprised to hear if he was really anti psychologist, or just cautionary about finding the right one with the right hashkafos.

    #933949
    aries2756
    Participant

    One cannot consider what happened a generation ago. There are so many Frum therapists today, and I might add who are extremely necessary, that what applied a generation ago no longer applies. When I counsel a couple, even as a life coach, the first thing I tell them is this: “I am neither on your side nor yours. I am on the side of the marriage, that is the important focus here, the survival and success of the marriage, so lets make that our goal and work in that direction”.

    If I see that either one is truly hung up and can’t move forward I will suggest that they seek other forms of therapy because they are not at a stage where “coaching” is enough or will be effective. Only people who truly want to improve and make their marriage work can actually improve in a “coaching” arena because they have individual goals and truly want to work on themselves rather than force change on their partner.

    Different therapies work for different people according to their issues and needs. One first needs to recognize that they indeed have issues. Then one needs to recognize that they NEED help. Those are the first two hurdles to getting better. Once they have managed those two huge hurdles they can navigate some true work towards a better life. No one can help anyone that doesn’t want to help themselves. Therapy is not a miracle. It is hard work and one has to be willing to engage and take a good hard look either in the past, the present or towards the future. Sometimes one needs to take a good hard look in the mirror and get to know the person who is staring back at them. These are not easy tasks for many people.

    And for some people it is just a matter of needing someone to talk to, relieving themselves of questions and ideas that have plagued them and bothered them but they have no one to discuss these things with. It can be a huge burden on someone’s mind and heart when they just don’t have anyone to talk to.

    #933950
    Bustercrown
    Participant

    Be wary of those, even a so-called Rov/college teacher, who without formal training deems himself to be a counselor and has actually encouraged divorce to couples who could have worked out their problems, only to have the couple later discover that he had personal interest in seeing the couple divorce.

    #933951
    TheGoq
    Participant

    I appreciate very much what you have said phdmom growing up i could have used some help in this area but my father would never have allowed such a thing, it is only when i grew up and moved away from home that i got that helping hand, therapy was a big help to me i came to appreciate myself something that sounds simple but it meant the world to me.

    #933952
    WIY
    Member

    Buster

    What personal benefit would a therapist have in recommending a divorce?!

    #933953
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    A few horror stories do not reflect on an entire profession. PhDMom, +1!

    And, as we all know, the profession hasn’t changed a bit since the day R. Miller passed away.

    The Wolf

    #933954
    phdmom
    Member

    there are many many more success stories than horror stories, but those don’t get advertised, much like orthodox jews get mostly bad press.

    #933955
    phdmom
    Member

    The Goq, BH, your story has a happy ending. the world is a scary world for our children, and many parents are in denial that their children are struggling.

    #933956
    mommamia22
    Participant

    Therapists don’t dish out advice. That’s a misnomer.

    #933957
    Sam2
    Participant

    WIY: I have heard of many cases where the Rav/teacher/friend who acts as a therapist really thinks that his friend/student/Talmid is better off not being married to the person and therefore feels the right thing to do is to give advice that will eventually break up the marriage. In fact, I once had a former Rosh Chaburah crying to me asking me how to do T’shuvah for the two couples he broke up. He thought he was doing the right thing because he felt that these particular marriages were hurting his Talmidim’s ability to learn, and he didn’t even realize he was doing it until after the fact. I am not saying that these stories are common or normal, but things like this do happen and they can happen to people in all walks of life. Anyone in a position of giving advice on a serious topic has to truly search themselves to make sure they have no vested interests whatsoever in the outcome of the situation. For that reason, if nothing else, it’s worth it to go to a trained, respected therapist over a friend/Rav/teacher/mentor. You know that they have no vested interest in the outcome and are there to only do their job and can’t be biased. Even if you trust your Rav or friend, they can’t always even know for sure that they don’t have some hidden ulterior motive that not even they will realize until it’s too late.

    #933958
    genuine
    Member

    Mommamia- true point. Wolf, can you explain what you mean?

    #933959
    rebdoniel
    Member

    You don’t need a licensed professional to dispense advice. Psychology is in many ways a pseudo-science; it is rooted in theories and speculations. There is no objective test, like a blood test, that you can give to someone to prove they have a particular mental illness. There are correlations between certain findings on brain scans and certain behavioral qualities, but correlation does not mean causation.

    (I studied psychology in college).

    #933960
    jmj613
    Participant

    theres deff a change towards reaching out for help. no doubt

    #933961
    phdmom
    Member

    Rebdaniel, your psychology 101 taught you about basic human behavior and theories, but it missed one important piece- a therapist does NOT give advice; rather they ask important questions in order to help clarify for the client to help guide them to make their own decisions. occasionally, there might be some collaborative suggestions to try something new to make changes, but therapy is not at all about giving advice.

    #933962
    phdmom
    Member

    i agree that the stigma is less than it was 10 years ago, but i still see ppl waiting much too long to get help. for example, i might see a parent or a couple miss the yellow flag and the orange flag, and only go see help when there’s a dangerous red flag, and they have no choice, because they simply can’t ignore it anymore. how unfortunate. by that time, there’s so much more to undo, so much more to heal, so many harsh words that have been said. and alot of pain. our preventative measures are not strong enough- yes there are chinuch habonim classes out there, but not enough people are choosing them and they are often very expensive, and our chosson and kallah classes are missing important peices. but that wasnt the point of my initial post. why is it that the frum community still does perceive getting help as such a stigma?

    #933963
    Brooklineborn
    Participant

    rebdoniel- I am sorry that you have taken that position on psychology. It is a social science that can be tested. There are models of practice and therapies that are evidence based and their success can be judged by research and statistics. Advise giving is for friends, relative, maybe your Rav. Like a Doctor, who can diagnosis and treat an ailment, a social worker, psychologist and psychiatrist can do the same in the same way a doctor does. They are licensed professionals. There are many tests that have variables such as a blood test.

    It is the prevalent attitude that mental health professionals give advise that deters many from using them. There are may unlicensed professionals calling themselves Mental Health workers, check credentials like you do your other professionals.

    Just ask the families and first Responders who are depending on crisis workers and their clergy to help them through the trauma of the last few days. They are not getting advise but trained professionals who can assist them and their families.

    #933964
    Health
    Participant

    phdmom -I wouldn’t worry about your Parnossa too much. As much as there is naysayers in the community, as the community is growing, there are a lot of Frum people who are using Mental Health professionals.

    I’m still waiting for the Frum community to install school psychologists in Yeshivas/BY’s. We are way behind the Goyim when it comes to this. Having shrinks in schools will do away with a lot of them seeking Mental help when it’s too late – after their lives are messed up. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

    #933965
    mommamia22
    Participant

    Rebdoniel

    Did they teach you about the DSM in your psyc class??

    There are very specific criteria that allow mental health professionals to diagnose. Your information is incorrect.

    #933966
    phdmom
    Member

    @ Health 🙂 I’m truly not worried about my parnasah at all. unfortunately, my profession is one that will not go extinct until Moshiach comes. it just bothers me that so many people live in pain and then only come to counseling when so much damage has been done, because of the stigma.

    and i agree with you about the schools, but in fact, i know of many many yeshivos and BY schools that do have mental health professionals, BH.

    #933967
    rebdoniel
    Member

    The DSM is decided upon my consensus vote of APA members.

    A social science is totally subjective. Sociology (influenced heavily by Marx and Weber) is a social science, just like anthropology is a social science.

    Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, Aaron Beck, Carl Skinner, etc. were mere theoreticians. And many of their ideas have been used to repress and violate populations of people.

    Psychiatry has an ugly history, in many aspects.

    Psychometrics are flawed in many ways, unlike blood tests. Psychometrics ask questions informed by and shaped by ideology.

    It is agreed upon that psychology is rooted in philosophy and physiology. Philosophy is simply not a science. It is no different than religion, for which there is no objective way to prove veracity. Likewise, psychology and its theories are something that people either accept or they don’t, resulting in Freudian cult followings, etc.

    When neuroimaging advances to the point where we can make more concrete diagnoses, I’ll be more likely to entertain ideas that as of now, are simply untenable.

    And social work is a profession that is thoroughly leftist/socialist. Social work is a completely useless profession, advancing the welfare state, Marxist, feminist, and racialist ideas.

    #933968
    Health
    Participant

    Mr. doniel -“When neuroimaging advances to the point where we can make more concrete diagnoses, I’ll be more likely to entertain ideas that as of now, are simply untenable.”

    Once upon a time, you’d have a point, but nowadays the psychology field is totally different. But since this isn’t my field, I’m not going to get into it with you. I just want to comment on the line I quoted. Certain things like addictions they have proven exist with things called brain scans.

    #933969
    Matan1
    Participant

    RebDoniel, it seems that you have very little of knowledge of psychological experiments. You claim that psychology is purely subjective. That is very far from the truth. In order for a psychological theory to gain recognition as a valid method of practice, it must pass several experiments, ones which are very specific and rigid. You mention Aaron Beck, the founder of cognitive psychology. The reason that his methods have become so widespread is because study groups wh receive his treatments fare much better in the laboratory against a control group who receive no treatment at all. It is very scientific in nature. This is the reason why freudian theories have been largely discarded. They have shown no validity in an experimental situation.

    Psychiatry has a very ugly history, but so does nearly every single other school of medicine. The psychiatry practiced today is nothing like it was 50 years ago. Instead of guesswork, we now have ways of measuring the efficiency of any treatment.

    I’m not really sure what social work has to do with welfare, marxism,feminism or racialist ideas. Its goal is to help people. Thats about it.

    #933970
    The little I know
    Participant

    As is common with many, ignorance can lead to wild conclusions. rebdoniel shared a comment that reflects little true knowledge about the mental health field. In today’s professional world, the mainstream of mental health treatment is based on evidence based techniques. As in any field, there is theory that was developed by observation. Psychology, for one, is firmly based on the scientific model, in which hypotheses are submitted to examination in tests, and the results are then presented for review, replication, or refutation. One can do with theory whatever he wants. It is much tougher when studies have already demonstrated fact. The capacity to study many phenomena scientifically, with proper controls etc., has grown over the years, with technology being a major factor in the refinement of scientific study. The off-handed dismissal of scientific study is foolish and immature.

    There are differences in approach between the different mental health fields. Psychiatry has evolved into a greater concentration on the biochemical influences on mental health, hence the current position of most psychiatrists as dispensers of medication for treatment. Psychology, once centered around psychometrics, has evolved into a science (soft, not hard) of human behavior, with a strong feature of scientific study to authenticate and refine diagnosis and treatment. Social work, with many areas of focus, has a clinical social work specialty, where psychotherapy is the mainstay. In reality, these disciplines complement each other, and referrals are often flowing among these three. Turf battles have risen and shrunk over the years. We now witness new groups of professionals in mental health. There are mental health counselors, life coaches, and a few more. Many professionals watch with grave concern how many who lack training have jumped into the counseling and therapy fields, often doing far more harm than benefit. Despite the best of intentions, rabbonim, chosson and kallah teachers, and various askanim dispense therapy and advice that do great damage. Are they also social scientists? I have met some Klai Kodesh who have some pretty disastrous views of politics.

    I bet there are therapists who are lousy, despite training and licensing. But I’d rather take my chances with one of those than someone guaranteed to lack the knowledge of the field.

    #933971
    lakewhut
    Participant

    Jews have always been neurotic. The Woody Allen stereotype isn’t baseless

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