Working with the Orthodox Jewish client: a community-based program to enable the Orthodox Jewish client to obtain secular psychotherapy

The relationship between psychotherapy and religion has been often stormy and consistently ambivalent. Issues' concerning counseling and psychotherapy of the orthodox Jewish client is no exception. The present study is designed to understand the struggles of individuals of orthodox Jewish faith to obtain quality mental health care in the United States. The available literature both in this country and abroad will be examined to look for major trends and to outline specific recommendations designed to enable religious Jewish individuals in need of help to surmount religious, familial, cultural, political, and community obstacles in order to find appropriate and effective treatment. The study begins by tracing the problematic historical relationship between psycho logy and religion. The review then focuses on relationships between the religious Jewish communities in America today and the psychological community. Accepted ways of obtaining treatment for mental disorders by religious Jews will be outlined, as well as attitudes towards secular psychological treatments among rabbis and other Jewish community leaders. The study also examines characteristics of orthodox Jewish clients. While the clinician may be treating an individual, the individual qua religious Jew brings to the therapeutic relationship a unique set of historical, personal experiences as well as a lifestyle governed by a comprehensive body of distinct guidelines. In addition, therapist or counselor attitudes towards religious clients will be reviewed. The study then proposes a community- based program to be used in the Orthodox Jewish community that incorporates five major strategies that are both realistic and potentially highly effective. These strategies focus on helping to remove the historical, cultural, political, religious, and community barriers that stand in the way of proper and effective care for the Orthodox Jewish client.