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Jewish Spirituality and Psychotherapy
- (The above articles are excerpts from the Nachas Ruach book)
31 oct 2013 internet
31 oct 2013 meditation
Everyone knows that intimacy is part of a good marital relationship.
The Torah teaches already in the beginning of Parshat Bereshit:
“Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and cleave with his wife, and they shall be as one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
However there is usually less awareness and acceptance that it is also necessary in a healthy marital relationship to maintain ones individuality or “me” within the couple?s togetherness or “we”.
This can be shown graphically:
As an experienced licensed Psychologist and Marital Therapist, who also is a licensed Hypnotherapist, I have often assessed that a goal of treatment is to help the couple achieve the right “balance” of maintaining their “me” within the “we”.
For example, if there is too much “me” there isn’t much of a relationship. However, when there is too much ?”we” and not enough “me”, the individual can lose himself and become too dependent on one’s spouse. This often happens in abusive relationships, when one partner has become “co-dependent”.
It is interesting to observe that each person has their own “subjective recipe” for the degree and type of intimacy and closeness that they want and need to have.
Each partner in a marriage needs to be aware of what intimacy means to him/herself, and his/her spouse and be ready to express what he needs and also hear and adapt to what one’s spouse needs and wants.
For example, it might be extremely important for the wife to be able to speak with her husband every night for an hour without interruption. For the husband 15 minutes might “be enough”. In this situation the wife might feel rejected and sad, while the husband might feel pressured and resentful that his wife “needs so much of his attention”, and from this feel less respect for her. Some husbands are upset if their wife wants to speak on the phone with a sister or a good woman friend. Some wives are inwardly offended if their husband wants to go out of the house every night even to learn with a chavruta (חברותא) rather than stay home and prefer to be with her after the kids are asleep.
In every relationship it’s necessary to accept that you might not have all that you expected with an attitude based on trust or bitachon that “everything is for the best.”
Couples often need to learn intimacy doesn’t mean that you can’t disagree. They need to be more aware that all relationships work according to the pattern of “approach” (Ratzo) and “move back” (Shav). Halacha expresses this principle through the laws of Family Purity where a married couple need to be separated from physical intimacy during a part of each month.
The need to have personal space and privacy doesn’t mean there is a “problem with the relationship”.
Intimacy is related to good communication skills. Many don’t realize enough that “simply listening” to one’s spouse is so important in marriage. This is because when a person is being given attention and being listened to, it conveys the message that one is being respected and understood by one?s spouse.
It’s critical to show one’s partner that you are sincerely and openly trying to understand his/her perspective and what something means to them, even if you don’t always “see things the same way”.
Chazal teach us that “just as everyone’s face is different”so everyone has their own way of looking at things. (Berachot 58a)
Finally, couples need to be more aware that most communication is non-verbal and that “words that come from the heart enter the heart of another”.
“דברים היוצאים מהלב נכנסים אל הלב” (Berachot 6b)
The twelve step program is recognized today by professionals to be the most effective approach and method to understand and treat addictions.
While originally working with alcoholics, the same principals can be applied when working with the whole range of modern addictions, including: drugs, gambling, overeating and sexual, including those connected to the internet.
While the only goal of the Twelve Step Recovery is total abstinence (not using at all for the rest of your life), the program stresses that “just being clean” is not enough. The program is based on the understanding that in order to “stay clean”, one must learn how to cope with life’s challenges and problems, and also how to have fun and experience life’s pleasures in a better, healthier way.
The program is based on the foundation that recovery is possible but requires a “spiritual awakening” and “new life style” that is not based so much on seeking ?immediate gratification? without limits.
The program helps people who apply and internalize these principles to “stay clean and serene” by learning how to accept that one is an addict and “let go” of the need to be in control all the time. It teaches one to accept life as it is, more trusting in the Higher Power.
During the last 30 years working as a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Hypnotherapist, I have developed, B’H, a unique and effective professional Torah based approach to therapy, addictions, and many other clinical issues, including the treatment of psychosomatic syndromes, that I am calling the “Nachat Ruach Treatment Model”. This approach supplements the traditional twelve step approach by adding another six additional concepts, including:
“Beloved is man who was created in the Divine Image.” (Pirkei Avot 3:14)
“Taste and See that Hashem is Good.” (Psalms 34:9)
It is accepted that the root of addiction is often poor self-esteem. Nachat Ruach teaches and helps the client internalize through professional psychotherapy and Torah based meditation and hypnosis, a new healthier way to see himself as an adult. To be able to do this, it is often necessary to help him/her “heal their inner wounded child” that is connected to traumas and difficulties from the past. The essence of his healthy identity is to start from the foundation that he is a Jewish person created in the Divine Image. This means practically that he has intrinsic value and worth beyond achievements and positive uniqueness. It means having the awareness that one has the tools to function well in this world, and cope in a healthy way. Utilizing meditation and hypnosis, Nachat Ruach Approach helps clients internalize this truth in the deepest part of his unconscious mind. Humanistic psychology stresses that every person acts in a way that is consistent with the way they see themselves.
Nachat Ruach also stresses that the challenge of this era, “the Era of the Internet”, is to learn how to have pleasure in a positive way… on the side of holiness (kedushah) and health.
For example, the Ramchal teaches that man was created only to have the possibility to experience pleasure through relating to Hashem. “אדם לא נברא אלא להתענג בה’.”. (Messilat Yesharim, Chapter One)
David Hamelech already emphasized this when he exclaimed : “Taste (experience) and see that Hashem is Good, Happy is the person who takes refuge in Him”.
In summary, the Twelve Steps teach how to stay clean. Nachat Ruach gives a stronger reason or motivation why to stay clean, as a Jewish person who has a Higher Purpose.