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Research shows that the Orthodox Jews under-utilize mental health services provided by the predominant cultures.
Evidence shows that their religious culture influence psychotherapy significantly, but professionals in predominant cultures pay less attention to the role played by religion or culture.
For this reason, Margolese (1998) critically examines religious and cultural issues that arise when providing psychotherapy to Orthodox Jews.
This result in recommendations that improve on psychotherapy sessions. Specifically, the author explores the religious beliefs that are likely to influence psychotherapy, treatment approaches and other issues that influence psychotherapy.
Orthodox Jewish Religious Beliefs
Although the Orthodox Jewish religion contains different religious-cultural groups, such as ultra, modern and Hassidic, they all have common traits that tend to influence how the Orthodox Jews approach mental health care. They all live in community settings.
They value the Torah (religious laws) more than financial gain. They have gender roles where men dedicate their time learning the Torah while women focus on household duties. In this case, women may serve complementary roles as sole breadwinners.
The Orthodox Jewish religion encourages married couples to have more children. Unlike in typical settings, this does not result in stress. Parents stay positive to attain their religious parental duties.
Treatment Approaches and Other Issues Affecting Psychotherapy
When examining treatment approaches, the author examines general considerations, such as patience and open sessions, among others. The Orthodox Jews perceive any mental condition as a punishment for failing to meet their social roles, such as learning and caring for children.
As a result, they approach treatment with shame and reluctance. Hence, to conduct successful therapy sessions, psychotherapists must exercise patience to enable Orthodox Jewish patients to become more confident.
In addition, the Orthodox modesty law does not allow members of the opposite sex to be left alone in seclusion.
Therefore, psychotherapists holding sessions with opposite sex members of the Orthodox Jewish community have to conduct sessions in the open or leave the doors open during sessions.
The Orthodox Jews are introspective and object-related thinkers. In psychodynamic psychotherapy, this characteristic makes the dynamic-oriented psychotherapy an effective approach.
Evidently, during therapy sessions, the approach enables the Orthodox Jews to become open-minded, practice religion in a mature and flexible manner. When conducting cognitive and behavioral therapy, therapists should focus on response, prevention and exposure.
This approach does not assess or challenge the Orthodox Jews beliefs. As a result, there is increased compliance. During couple and family therapy sessions, the structured approach is encouraged to increase the level of engagement.
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To make the approach effective, therapists should be aware of the Jewish laws that guide and influence the family. On the other hand, for the group therapy to be effective, therapists must form groups with the Orthodox Jews’ religious and cultural characteristics.
Such characteristics include involving persons of the same sex and having sensitive leaders who are knowledgeable about the Orthodox Jewish culture.
Other recommendations highlighted include having an understanding of the religious rituals. This helps to differentiate between compulsive behaviors and religious rituals. In addition, therapists should have a criterion to distinguish between religious adherence and psychotic symptoms.
More so, therapists should acknowledge that differences in religious beliefs make the Orthodox Jews to respond to treatment differently.
Ultimately, success in conducting psychotherapy with the Orthodox Jews lies in understanding the Orthodox Jews’ religious beliefs and culture.
This allows psychotherapists to come up with therapies that do not conflict with the Orthodox Jews’ beliefs and culture. As a result, there is increased compliance.
Margolese, H. C. (1998). Engaging in psychotherapy with the Orthodox Jew: A critical review. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 32 (1), 37-53.