Seeking Help & Torah-Based Therapy [#757]

May 13, 2018

Question:

There is a topic where there is much confusion: the role of psychology/psychologists [in a religious Jew’s life], even when the professional is a Jew who serves Hashem, or even if he is simply called a “Chareidi” Jew. The Rav has explained at length about the powers of the soul, and how to recognize and direct them, based on Torah and halachah, and that through this, a person will feel inwardly satisfied, and serene, from the connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. [It seems that] when one’s entire aspiration is to do the will of the Creator, even if he falls sometimes to sin, if he learns the words of the Rav properly, he should simply get up from his fall, but if his fall is more severe, he needs to call for help.
But how does it make sense that true help will come from anyone who uses the approach of [secular] psychology, whom anyone recognizes as being based on heresy, and on pursuing “feeling good” as opposed to doing what’s good and upright, as we are commanded to by Hashem? Sometimes a person is even speaking with a Mashgiach, and even the Mashgiach will say that it’s improper for a Jewish soul to run after all kinds of ways that develop the individual, the world of psychology; but if he thinks that the yeshiva bochur or seminary girl has a particularly difficult situation, he will tell the parents, “Send him\her to a psychologist.” Why?
Is this because we are living in the generation of “the footsteps preceding Moshiach”? Instead of sitting with the boy or girl and cheering him\her up by telling him\her Hashem loves him\her, instead of relating to him as an only child or only daughter of Hashem, instead, he\she is being sent to a psychologist, who teaches the boy or girl how to be haughty, and to run after “how to feel good”, etc. Often the boys or girls just want to simply have a warm feeling of connectedness, not only in their homes, and not only afterwards when they get married, but also while they are in yeshiva or seminary – to feel like they exist as individuals, and that they are not just another part ‘of the herd’.
And even the Rav himself writes that if his teachings about avodah are not helping a person, the person should seek professional help (I don’t remember the Rav’s exact words about this, but something to that effect). But why? According to my knowledge, which is comprehensive enough, even the gentiles are beginning to re-evaluate their knowledge about healing the soul, and they are seeking other ways to heal the soul, because they have already realized that their methods aren’t helping, and that even taking pills isn’t helping, and rather the opposite, by causing people to become dysfunctional in their souls…..They speak openly about this, that they need to find new ways of helping people, and that we cannot label every difficulty today as a disorder. Some are turning to the East, and some simply argue that we need to find a way to return the love and warmth back to humanity, instead of formulating new psychological approaches or medications for everything – which the damage of can be seen a few years down the line.

I will be happy to read what the Rav says about this topic, which is so painful and confusing.

Answer:

One must turn to professional help, which uses a Torah approach that is based on the words of the Torah’s sages alone. There are several Rabbonim today who are intentionally involved with this cause.