Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Finding Someone to Help You Help Yourself

Michal Eisikowitz

Therapy can be a life-altering journey. But you need to find the right therapist to help guide you along the path.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

After years of profound physical and verbal abuse, Tamara was determined to move forward. “I’d been carrying a ton of baggage since childhood, and I wanted to throw it overboard,” she says. “I was willing to take a beating and do the hard work.”

A social worker friend recommended a therapist, and Tamara dove in. Several sessions later, she was frustrated — and out a considerable sum of money.

“It was a total flop,” Tamara sums up wearily. “The therapist was too focused on my feelings — she kept repeating and summarizing my words. I’m very self-aware. I’m in touch with my emotions and didn’t want to get mired in the past. My goal was to acquire tools for more positive daily interactions.”

After several sessions, Tamara tactfully expressed her dissatisfaction, requesting a more results-oriented approach. When no changes were forthcoming, she gave up.

“I’m burned out,” Tamara says. “I so badly wanted this therapy to work. I was willing to give it my all. But now I’m drained — and I don’t have the money or energy to try again.”

 

The Therapeutic Shidduch

Sadly, Tamara’s story is typical. For numerous therapy-seekers, the search for an effective professional proves to be a harrowing journey rife with wrong turns, acute disappointment — and in the worst cases, permanent damage.

“Finding a good therapist is like finding a shidduch,” says Dr. Yisrael Levitz, director of the Family Institute of Neve Yerushalayim, a post-graduate training center and clinic offering a broad range of mental health services toJerusalem’s religious community. “Say ‘I will!’ after minimal checking, and you’re bound for trouble.”

But before considering the qualities to look for in a competent mental health professional, consumers must understand what psychotherapy is — and isn’t.

“Psychotherapy is not advice-giving,” Dr. Levitz clarifies. “It’s more a process by which individuals learn to better understand their thoughts and emotions and become freer to cope more rationally with the painful issues in their lives. Good psychotherapy should help an individual regain the bechirah that’s been lost due to overwhelming emotional pain.”

Untrained therapists often ply clients with intuitive advice. It may or may not be wise counsel, Dr. Levitz says, but it’s not therapy.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you