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.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you