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TEEN ISSUES-----therapy vs torah

Rivky Posted - 05 January 2001 15:31

I was wondering, I have always learned in school that if a person has enough Bitachon and Emunah, they will be able to deal with all of their problems by trusting that everything is for the best.

If this is the case, how can a frum person get therapy? Would it be preferable to try to improve my Bitachon rather than attend therapy to deal with current problems?

MODERATOR Posted - 05 January 2001 18:20

It depends. You are correct that lots of therapy could be replaced by people having solid Hashkofos, Midos, and a very deep understanding of how human beings and the world works according to the Torah. That is clearly true.

If you’re going to therapy because you are unhappy with your life, because you went through a heartbreaking experience or some other emotional pain, because you feel like a failure, etc. etc. etc -- All of this can be solved through Emunah, Bitachon, and other Midah and Hashkafa improvements a lot better than in therapy. Two things though.

1) It’s a lot easier to find a therapist than to find someone who can help you with this from a Torah perspective. Shrinks make a lot of money and so they are ready willing and able to help you.

The sages who you would need to help you with the other, better way, are fewer, and those that can are often swamped with customers already, since their services are so in demand and they do not turn people down because they have no insurance…

But depending on the severity and the exact nature of the problem and the person with it, you may be able to deal with it on your own or through a Rebbi, true.

2) Torah could help you with a how-to-deal-with-life problem better than a shrink, since the Torah teaches us G-d’s way of dealing with life, and the shrinks only have man-made solutions.

However, where the problem is not a how-to-deal one but rather a mental illness one, then just as you go to a doctor when you have a broken foot rather than say “OK It’s all for the best that I have a broken foot so let me not cure it”, you will go to a shrink, who is kind of a doctor of mental illnesses similar to how a podiatrist is a doctor of foot illnesses

So if let’s say you have this thing where you have a big collection of high heeled shoes with the heels broken off because you have an irresistible urge to buy high heeled shoes and break the heels off. (This really happened to a guy I know of.) You can say “OK, I will deal with this through Bitachon, and it’s for the best that I am nuts”, or you can go to a doctor and get help.

Midos don’t help you change your condition – they help you change your attitude and perspective.

So if by changing your attitude and perspective you can fix the problem – such as feelings of failure after losing your job etc, Midos will help.

But sometimes, even when you see the problem for what it really is, you still want to change it. Then it’s time to go to a shrink.

In such a case going to a shrink is the same as going to work or going to a doctor – it’s Hishtadlus.

BeGood613 Posted - 11 March 2002 20:18

“If you’re going to therapy because you are unhappy with your life, because you feel like a failure, etc. etc. etc -- All of this can be solved through Emunah, Bitachon, and other Midah and Hashkafa improvements a lot better than in therapy”

What if the failure that you feel is because you don’t meet your own standards as an eved hashem? That would lead to being upset with life and depression. But how could more Bitachon help?

I believe fully in Hakodosh boruch hu, but I don’t believe in me. I know that I was born in tzelem Elokim, but I think I totally contaminated it and have no chances left.

Its assur to murder and I have killed myself inside, I am deserving of a physical mitah by beis din. That wont get carried out now a days, so maybe I am responsible for physically killing myself also?(PS the issue here is the depression, not the suicide, its assur I wont do it, no matter how strong the urge[bli neder])

MODERATOR Posted - 18 April 2002 16:29

In such a case you need to study the Hashkofo of "sheva yipol tzdik v'kam", meaning, you need to expect many, many defeats at the hands of the Yetzer Horah, and how each defeat is actually another rung in the ladder to victory.

You need to learn Bitachon in Hashem's siyata d'shmaya for those who fight hard, even if they lose. You need to learn L'fum tzaarah agra, that its your efforts that constitute righteousness, not the successes.

MODERATOR Posted - 06 February 2002 15:59

The following post came from "lifeisbad". My answer follows:

You were talking about laws of therapists telling over conversations and it was mentioned they can if there’s gonna be harm caused to you and others, but that’s so vague.

Many pp who see shrinks are going bec in some way their hurting themselves, physically, emotionally, etc. so that pretty much gives them a free license.

Also, what gives a shrink the right to think their your best friend, like they hear all this trash about you before you go and you have no clue how much they know and then the first thing out of their mouths is "so, have you been eating?" or "So, have you been cutting lately?"

Who the **** do they think they are? they don’t know you.

It stinks, its so easy to be a shrink, you just go to school, and they can mess pp up even more, bec they are totally not trained to CARE!! only to diagnose.

Like tell me this, how can a shrink diagnose s/o who on the day the person gets home from being a way the whole summer (and staying up the whole night before and missing their friends like hell) w/ being "anxious and severely depressed" , even I know pp who just get home from camp and stayed up the whole night before will come across a little sad, don’t you agree?

They don’t have a free license at all, since they can get sued if they violate it, and shrinks are forever busy protecting themselves from getting sued.They have no interest in lawsuits.

There is a lot of truth to what you are saying. Therapy is a business to therapists. You are a customer.

Sometimes a shrink will care about you, but that is because they are a good person, not because they are a shrink.

It is not always easy to find a good therapist. And you are right that to change someone, caring about them is important.

The Rambam says it in Hilchos Deos 7:7. If you want to tell someone they are doing something wrong, he says, a prerequisite is that you make them understand that the only reason you are telling them is for their good - not yours.

If you cant get that message across, you have no Mitzvah to try to correct someone's behavior.

Theoretically, though, you are supposed to go to a shrink for advice, where you already understand that you need help. The problem is, when teenagers go to a shrink, its often because someone makes them go, and therefore the patient-shrink dynamics are different. The shrink should care. And he should not act the way you are describing ("So, are you eating?").

If yours seems to you like just a businessman for whom you are just a way to get another insurance payment, I would recommend you get another shrink.

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