By Yehuda Krohn, PsyD
A little over a month ago, many of us were present in shul when Megillas Kohelles was read. In perhaps the best known section of Kohelles, the beginning of the third chapter, we are introduced to the notion that there is a time and season for every object under the heavens.
What is remarkable about what follows – a time to give birth, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to uproot; and each of the subsequent pairings – is that they represent polar opposites. A lesson we can learn is that we do not necessarily win points for responding in cookie cutter fashion every time. Rather, in order to be truly effective, we need to adapt our responses to the uniqueness of each situation. Sometimes, this means doing the exact opposite, today, of what we did just the previous day, week or month.
The above applies not only to the personal, but to the relational. When things are less than perfect with our work situations, sometimes, it’s best to stay put and seek resolution; other times, it is best to “cut bait” and move on. When an intimate relationship is in crisis, sometimes what is called for is embrace, while at other times we may need to keep our distance, or at the very least, give the other some space. When our children have done something wrong, sometimes, we need to look the other way; other times, we may need to take a stand.
The articles that follow, at first may seem to propel us in different, perhaps even, opposing directions. This, in part, speaks to the uniqueness of each contributing clinician’s approach toward mental health: Some are behaviorists, others focus on cognitions; yet others are depth oriented. Some focus on the community, others focus on the therapist’s consulting room, and yet others argue for a multi-disciplinary approach.
The diversity of the articles, though, also hints to us that each is written for a unique time and/or season. There may be high points or low points, times of absence or presence, situations that call for one healer or another.
More specifically: One author reminds us to be aware of and to take verbal notice of our children’s successes. Another author encourages us to be open to our own imperfections and to model this for our children.
One author guides us through the emotions that accompany the unspeakable loss of an unborn child. Another author helps us be present, when we face down the unspoken losses of our own (perhaps) unfulfilled childhoods.
One author argues for making space in Shul for “12-steppers,” adherents to a program created by non-therapists. Another author focuses on when non-therapists are unequal to the task, and licensed mental health professionals are needed. Yet another author writes about when a mental health professional should consult with medical doctors, in order to nail down a diagnosis.
Particularly as most of us face a change of the seasons, as the last leaves of autumn cascade to the ground, as the more intense cold of winter begins to set in, as we bring out our winter coats, our snow blowers and our shovels, we notice that different seasons call for different wardrobes and different equipment. Let us, likewise, recall that different situations call for different responses and that different problems call for different solutions.
We hope you enjoy this edition of Mind Body and Soul, particularly because of the diversity of its authors, their approaches, and the situations they address.