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    Chavy
    Participant

    As someone whose been in both therapy and group therapy for quite some time, I keep wondering why religion, isn’t spoken about and is often what clinicians shy away from. To me, religion is the elephant in the room because it’s so avoided in group therapy. Yes, people are on different spiritual levels, but does that have to exclude discussions on how religion can be a helpful coping skill? I’m so glad that religion was brough up in the recent Instagram Live, but I would love to see more professionals using religion as a coping skill and not tiptoeing around it.

    As much as it might be offensive for someone who isn’t religious, it’s offensive to me, as religious, Orthodox adult, to be tiptoeing around it. I think that a skilled therapist can find a way to bring in religion that involves all levels of spirituality. Of course, I’m referring to a platform and group that has Jewish attendees.

    Looking forward to your input!

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    FunJester
    Participant

    I totally agree! It always bothers me that it’s specifically avoided because someone might get offended. In general there’s no one size fits all, and if something doesn’t speak to you, just keep scrolling. Why can’t we do that with religion as well?

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    Chavy
    Participant
    Topic Author

    Exactly!

    SO much here! There have been some articles written by therapists in our community on this!

    There are some therapists, especially trauma-focused who will shy away from religion as they far it can be quite triggering for clients & there are others (like myself) who as clients at the onset of therapy how & if they want Gd/religion/higher power/spirituality to be incorporated into tx.

    Great Q. as always!

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    Yeshaya Kraus
    Participant

    There may be a lot of reasons why religion doesn’t come into the therapy room (training, triggers, it just doesn’t come up). At the end of the day, though, religious practice and spirituality are integral parts of any frum person’s life. Some people in therapy are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with both, some don’t but want to, and some want to stay as far away from it as possible because it’s just too triggering for them. It’s the therapist’s job to know when and how to use it in session in a way which is safe and promotes growth or healing.

    It certainly shouldn’t be kept off the table out of hand. The same way as a person’s relationship with parents or family is something that can come up and be a major player in one’s therapy, so can one’s relationship with Hashem and religiosity.

    This is a really important question, thanks for bringing it up!

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    PioneeringPoet
    Participant

    Hi. I love this question. As someone in therapy, I was only able to move forward once the religious piece was integrated into the therapy. Having gone through trauma and feeling so abandoned to the things that hurt me, religion and my relationship with Hashem was another emotional piece of the puzzle. Our entire psyche and way of life is informed by our religion and create our viewpoint of the world, if we leave it out of the therapy room, we are not acknowledging an entire central part of our being.  Being with a skilled therapist who can use religion and our emotional relationship to it as a resource or in helping us understand ourselves more, will make the healing that much more robust. Best of luck on your healing journey!

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    iamafighter15
    Participant

    I also find it frustrating when a therapist wont discuss religion in therapy. Maybe it’s because it’s simply not something that they’re trained to do. Many times They only address things related to mental health directly since it’s not their role. That’s why it’s helpful to have a Rav along with a therapist. But since many of us aren’t connected with a Rav for whatever reason it’s helpful to listen to Torah Classes and try finding one that talks to you.(Torah Anytime has many options..) And according to Fay’s response that I saw on a different question, when a person has Emunah and Bitachon it speeds up their therapy. I find it to be very true. When we go through things we naturally try to blame others. Having Bitachon helps us realize that whatever happened was meant to be and can actually put them at ease. A person can achieve it by listening to classes over and over until it becomes a part of them.

    I hope this helps!

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    if-the-stars-align
    Participant

    I didn’t realize it was an official thing – that therapists shy away from discussing religion. We’ve touched on it – lightly, but my therapist basically told me that I have to work my relationship with God out, but didn’t seem so on board with being the one to do it with me.

    I find it confusing. Also makes me feel a little hopeless – like is it so complicated that you won’t even discuss it with me…

    I don’t have a rav to talk to and although I live a very frum life, I’m so not connected. It’s a horrible feeling and I’m so conflicted about it. Why am I so disconnected? Is it because I’m lazy and don’t want to work hard on my relationship with Hashem? Is it because I’m basically disconnected in most/all of my relationships? Is that even an excuse?

    Its a vicious cycle, too. I have no connection so I outwardly do the whole frum life thing but privately, between me and Hashem, I never go the extra mile. Stupid example, but I’ll eat lettuce without checking it and those types of things. Things that are just between me and Him. And obviously, I sometimes feel guilty but also sometimes feel nothing. Just nothing at all.

    I don’t know how to fix this. And I’ve mentioned some of this to my therapist – her response, yeah you gotta work that out…

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    Leebi
    Participant

    In response to if-the-stars-align's post #13185:

    I’m not a professional, I’m not a Navi, but one thing I know: YOU ARE NOT LAZY! The fact that you are asking this question shows that you want to develop a relationship with Hashem! It definitely helps to find a rav or therapist who you can trust and can discuss the details with you, but calling yourself derogatory names will only make you feel worse about yourself and drive you deeper into the hole you’re already in. I’m speaking from personal experience. The moment you recognize that you’ve been through painful experiences that drove these beliefs into your mind and have compassion for yourself, you’re already on the path to healing.

    Another trick that worked for me: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I had a problem: Although I’m a very frum girl, and I’m the last person you would think would struggle with this, for a while, in order to further my relationship with Hashem, I had to stop davening regular tefillos because I had a negative association with davening. I still davened in my own words to Hashem whenever I needed something or had something I wanted to express, but I stopped pressuring myself to make Zemanim. That’s the key here. Yiddishkeit should never be a pressure that I have to do it because I’m afraid of what other people might think or say if I don’t do it, because I’m afraid I’ll go to Gehinom, or because anything else bad will happen to me. Ideally, I serve Hashem because I love Him, because He loves me, because Hashem did a huge Chesed by creating me and taking care of me every second. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a Chesed that Hashem created me. I once heard a shiur, I think it was by Rabbi YY Jacobson, that he said that a person’s challenges are there to help him become a better person. It may be very hard in the moment, but no matter what it feels like now, something good will come out of it. I’m still living through my challenges, but I know that I am much closer to Hashem because of them. Today, I daven Shacharis when I get up early enough, Mincha when I remember and am up to it, but the difference is that now, I do it out of love and appreciation for Hashem.

    By the way, I hope you have friends in general that you can talk to about these things- it really helps to feel that you’re not alone in the process. Not that you are alone- Remember: Hashem is always with you and will never reject you, NO MATTER WHAT!

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    if-the-stars-align
    Participant

    In response to Leebi's post #13189:

    thanks so much for responding. I actually have tears running down my cheeks from your response.

    The truth is, that I really do believe that I am lazy. As a teenager I spoke to Hashem all day long. I literally had a running conversation Him. Davening from a siddur was always challenging for me but I had a relationship. Even (especially, actually) through my most difficult years – I cried to Hashem all the time. Something turned off in me as an adult. Maybe it was becoming a parent? I’d think that becoming a mother, I’d be able to connect to Hashem on a deeper level, if anything. But I have so much resentment and anger. And I KNOW it makes no sense to be angry at Him. I’m just a speck. He owes me nothing and gives me so much.

    I feel very broken. Like the life I’m living makes no sense. What am I doing here if I’m not connected to Him? If moshiach were to come today, would I be zoche to greet him? I really don’t think so. So what’s the point? Suffer in this world. But I’m not channeling my suffering in the right way so will I just go to hell and suffer all over again in the next world?

    Omg sorry for being so heavy here. It feels good to be able to write this. I can’t say this stuff to anyone in real life…

     

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    Climber
    Participant

    In response to if-the-stars-align's post #13190:

    I totally relate.

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    iamafighter15
    Participant

    In response to Leebi's post #13189:

    Wow that’s so kind of you to say all that!!!

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    iamafighter15
    Participant

    In response to if-the-stars-align's post #13190:

    I’m also not a professional but I can tell you this much.You wrote that you went through difficult years where you cried to Hashem all the time. Do you even realize how UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING you are? The fact that you’re still alive, and frum..MANY people went through traumatic events and they ended up leaving Yiddishkeit. Some even snapped!! It’s a miracle that some of us are still around! People who went through trauma are viewed differently by Hashem. He KNOWS what you went through and understands how you feel!! He’s our loving father. Who says he expects the same from you as he does from everyone else? For Him, every little thing we do is GOLD!!

    Before putting yourself down and thinking that you’re not worth anything, can you realize the HERO that you are??

     

     

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    Chavy
    Participant
    Topic Author

    Wow, I’m reading this thread, and have to just share how in awe I am of all your responses! @Leebi, @iamafighter15, if-the-stars-align, all these are giving me tremendous chizuk!

    Thank you @yeshayakrausz and @hudi for your responses! @iamafighter15, your response is SO HEARTWARMING!!!! Kudos to you for making us feel so valued and validated and everyone else!! This forum would not be what it is if not for all you amazing people!

    This is such an important and beautiful question and conversation. I love how this has become the place for participants to give each other courage, strength and validation for their struggles.

    I do believe that religion is a most integral part of our being, if not everything. Judaism is not just a religion that we choose to be a part of one day and not the next. It’s not either something we can pick and choose which parts we want to take part in and which parts not. G-d created this beautiful world for us to take pleasure in. And G-d created us to take pleasure in His awesome world. How do we define pleasure? Well let’s look at the One Who created us and knows what real pleasure is. G-d tells us that the ultimate pleasure we can have in this world is by following His Teachings and and filling His Commandments.

    All that said, each person on their level. Also, in order to have a relationship with G-d, one first must have a relationship within themselves. If there is no “I”, then who am the “I” to have a relationship with Hashem?!

    Once you can build a strong sense of self, you will start to build healthy relationships with other people, and then with Hashem.

    About why this is not done in therapy- for one, it’s what we said above. Your therapist is there to help you build a strong sense of self and the relationships will follow. Another reason why I believe therapists don’t like speaking about religion, is because self work and self growth is not necessarily about religion. Obviously, it all boils down to becoming a better Jew, but before one can be a good Jew, one has to be a good person.

    Imagine if a therapist told you not to have depression because Hashem does so much good for you. Or how can you have anxiety, just have more bitachon. Or just fight your yetzer hara and you won’t be jealous. I think you get the picture. This is not how we grow. You definitely can bring religion up with your therapist. If he/ she doesn’t want to speak about it, quite honestly, I wouldn’t want to speak about it with them either. You can find a mentor, teacher or the like. Listen to lectures, or even a friend.

    Your therapist is there to empower you to become your best self and build a healthy relationship with yourself. You as a Jew and your relationship with Hashem will surely follow.

    I hope this helps.

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