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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Psychotherapy and Teshuvah: Parallel and Overlapping Systems for Change

by Michelle Friedman, MD (Posted on July 5, 2016)
Topics: Halakha & Modernity, Disabilities, Machshava/Jewish Thought, Middot

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People come to mental health treatment because they are in pain. The presentations of their pain vary–they come because they suffer from symptoms that restrict or threaten their lives, because they struggle with inner conflicts that undermine and torment their integrity, or because if they don’t come, they will lose their job, their spouse, or their children. People seeking mental health treatments desire change in either outlook or behavior that will result in the removal of their pain. Most people who seek mental health treatment understand–or quickly come to understand–that the alleviation of emotional pain requires active participation in a process that involves understanding the reasons for their suffering and making concrete changes accordingly.

Teshuva, repentance, can be considered the Jewish analogue of the process through with one’s emotional pain is linked with the requirement and inevitability of change…

This article was originally published in the Torah u-Madda Journal. To read the full article, click here.