NEFESH: The International Network of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals
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Transcending Adversity
Author: Harriet Cabelly, LCSW
November 25th, 2014

  “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”   – Viktor Frankl   Throughout life, people transcend their adversities in different ways; some people can go through a lot and be able to rise above and live well, and some people simply succumb to their circumstances. Th …
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Do You Need a Marriage Therapist?
Author: Ovadia Trepp, MSW, LCSW
November 25th, 2014

For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing two distinct types of problems that impact marriages, namely, couple problems and individual problems. We will also be talking about two types (or modalities) of therapy: marital and individual. Like the handyman who needs to know the details of a job before choosing the appropriate set of tools, it is helpful to identify the type of issue you are experiencing before choosing one type of ther …
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How to Choose a Career that is Best for You
Author: Tzvi Pirutinsky, Ph.D.
November 25th, 2014

How to Choose a Career that is Best for You By Tzvi Pirutinsky, Ph.D. Choosing the right career can be a difficult and anxiety-provoking process. Will I enjoy it? Will I be good at it? Will it provide an adequate livelihood? Will my family support this choice? On the other hand, it is also an opportunity to actively explore and discover more about yourself and the world, so picking the right career can be exciting, informative, and even fun.
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NEFESH INTERNATIONAL 18th Annual Conference
Author: Yeta Solomon, LCSW
November 25th, 2014

  What does a highly successful, international mental health organization do after it has attracted many hundreds of members worldwide, and coordinated 17 outstanding conferences? It does what NEFESH International is about to do. It does it again, of course. NEFESH is proud and very excited to announce the Eighteenth Annual Conference to take place on Sunday and Monday, December 28th and 29th, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge, New Yor …
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Bridging the Gap Between You and Your Teen
Author: Sara Teichman, Psy.D.
November 25th, 2014

  Are you the cool mom? The mom who is young in attitude, spirit, and dress? Can you be mistaken for your teenager’s sister? Have you succumbed to the allure of Forever 21 or are you striving to win points in your teen’s eyes? Well, here’s the thing. Despite well-intentioned efforts to keep up with the times, many a daughter still sees her mom as irrelevant. Being young at heart, it seems, does not bridge the generation gap …
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Finding Humor in Everyday Situations
Author: Joel Verstaendig, PhD
November 25th, 2014

  "A merry heart is a good medicine and a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs: Chapter 17, Verse 22) The health benefits of humor and a good laugh have long been hypothesized, and recent research has substantiated these assumptions. Norman Cousins, who researched the biochemistry of emotions, was diagnosed with a debilitating and painful illness late in life. In his best-selling book, Anatomy of an Illness, he related how ten min …
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Parenting Your Anxious Child
Author: Rachel Factor, MSW
November 25th, 2014

  You have your sweet, intelligent, imaginative and creative child. A child who has clearly been blessed with endless potential and depth, a child that can blow your mind away with the most interesting questions you’ve ever been asked (which you only wished you could answer). The problem, or better said, the challenge, is that your child also has anxiety. You see, it’s part of this package deal. But there is good news; anxiety re …
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Coping Successfully with Stress
Author: Chana Simmonds, MSW, LCSW
November 25th, 2014

  In the 12th century, the Rambam (Moshe ben Maimon, Maimonides), addressed the interconnection of the mind, body and spirit. He recognized that an ill person's thoughts and beliefs affected both his emotional state and physical experience. He did not believe in amulets, and yet, he wrote in his Laws of the Sabbath that a patient who believed that charms or talisman were healing should be allowed to wear them, even on Shabbat, because it mig …
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FEAR: Controlling the Wide Spectrum of Moods and Feelings
Author: Marlene Greenspan, MA, LPC
November 25th, 2014

From anxiety to trauma, fear is a feeling of many colors. Colors and musical notes have a certain resonance or intensity that may vary with the emotion the artist wants to evoke. Feelings are emotions and also have stronger or weaker intensities, depending on the way a person is expressing those feelings inwardly or outwardly. Fear may begin with a mild feeling of worry or concern about someone or something that can escalate to the vibrancy of pa …
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Reward and Punishment when Raising Children – A Second Look
Author: Chana Mark, LCSW
November 25th, 2014

  Many parents use a system of rewards and punishments to help change children’s behavior. This idea has come down to us from behavioral psychology as part of what is known as “operant conditioning.” This phrase is simply the following: Reinforcement means increasing the frequency or duration of desirable behavior. “If you go to bed on time for the whole week, I will give you a prize at the end of the week.” Pun …
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Facing Our Fears
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LMSW
November 25th, 2014

What is fear? Is it a monster under your bed, or in the closet? Is it wide eyes, thumping heart, panicked breathing? Is it dangling off a cliff by your fingertips? Fear is all those things, and more. Fear, at its essence, is actually a good thing. Our bodies let us know when we are in a dangerous situation, so we can act accordingly. Do you have an aversion to standing near the subway platform edge? Do you tend to walk faster through a rough neig …
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Introduction: November 2014
Author: Lisa Twerski, LCSW
November 25th, 2014

In contemplating the theme of this issue of Mind Body & Soul, so many possibilities of what it might mean to “face one’s fears” come to mind, both in the general context of life, and specifically, in the context of mental health and mental illness. Our own individual circumstances are the not the only times we find ourselves facing our fears, or trying to avoid doing so. As a community, there are times when we must act colle …
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I’m a psychotherapist. Should I have a blog?
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
December 6th, 2014

This is the first blog post on the new Nefesh website, so I think an existential question is in order. Why does this page exist? As professionals in the mental health field, we have much to share with the world. And especially as Orthodox Jews in this profession of giving, we are in a unique position to contribute to our community. But as psychotherapists, we have a responsibility to carefully maintain our public image. We take much care in what …
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Beginnings
Author: Jay Yitzi Horowitz, Mr.
December 11th, 2014

In response to Shimmy Feintuch’s existential question here(http://nefeshinternational.org/ShimmyFeintuch/should_a_therapist_have_a_blog.html) about therapist’s blogging, I would like to begin this blog with my response.  The very nature of a psychotherapist’s job is to confront and engage all areas of the human condition. Combined, the world of psychotherapy has a lot to say about humanity. Not that we have it all righ …
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What Makes a Good Therapist?
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
December 13th, 2014

One of the first questions I ask new clients is if they have ever been in therapy before. If they have, it is tremendously helpful to know what was helpful for them in the past, and what wasn’t; what they liked about their previous therapist or therapists, and what they didn’t. Most of the answers wouldn’t shock you. People like therapists who care, who are human; who know what they are doing, or at least seem to; who are direct …
7 comments
Awareness
Author: Jay Yitzi Horowitz, Mr.
December 15th, 2014

If I were to identify one fundamental issue of psychological health that we, as a society, don’t do a great job addressing it would be self-awareness.   Generally speaking, we are not honest enough with ourselves. Think about how often we confuse thoughts and emotions.  What’s the difference between a thought and an emotion? It even pervades our vernacular. Does this sentence make any sense- “I feel like drinking …
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Chanukah Miracles and Confectionery Sugar
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
December 18th, 2014

My brother quoted a beautiful thought from Rav Chaim Shmulevitz. Permit me to paraphrase. Why do we celebrate the slow-burning oil as opposed to, well, victory against all odds and staying alive? Rav Chaim Shmulevitz answers that it is often the little things that showcase love best. Hashem saved our lives, sure, but the big picture can get lost quickly in the minutiae of daily living. It is the small, subtle, often unexpected gifts that can show …
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Watch Your Language
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
January 3rd, 2015

Watch your language! No, not the words you can’t say on TV, or their permutations. I’m talking here about the words we use to describe ourselves and others. Words like Stupid, Bad, and (my favorite) Pathetic. Do you use these words in your speech, or even quietly, in your own mind? While looking at yourself in the mirror? When you catch yourself doing something you don’t want to be doing? How about when describing something, or …
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How to Inspire Change
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
January 10th, 2015

Reading the newspaper Thursday evening, the headline jumped out at me. How could it be? A respected clinician, using such a word? (Especially after I just wrote a blog post about it last week?) The headline read “Pathetic…” and the brief piece mentioned some couple’s behavior that seemed disconnected and unhealthy. Fair enough. But the word choice bothered me. We all speak this way. It’s a part of our vernacular, ou …
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Pray
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
January 17th, 2015

Thursday. I didn’t mind the train ride, but I wasn't looking forward to it either. I sat down, lost in my thoughts, not really paying attention to my surroundings. I looked to my right, and a word scrawled in block letters on the pole came into focus, blue marker on stainless steel: PRAY. Good idea. Immediately, I felt more present. I became aware of myself as a passenger in the subway car, and I observed myself as a participant in my own l …
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A Prayer for Shul
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
January 24th, 2015

Maybe this is a New York thing, but I find that many of us are quick to judge. It’s evident in the way we talk about ourselves and other people. Myself included. Can you relate to this problem? Shul, in particular, is a judgement minefield. There are so many people, and davening is so long. It’s only a matter of time before our thoughts start to drift. We look around, we see the way others are behaving, and we jump to judgement. Why i …
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Focus
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
January 31st, 2015

Looking for a laugh? Check out the Letters to the Editor section of your local Jewish newspaper. These sections seem to be a place for anyone and everyone to share their grievances. We all have things that bother us; we would hardly be human if we didn’t. But not all us of are inclined to share our comments so publicly (and often anonymously). A letter caught my eye a few weeks ago. The topic was the perceived immodest dress of community wo …
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Do Therapists Ever Get Drunk?
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
February 7th, 2015

I had a conversation with a colleague, Yehuda Alcabes, earlier today about running into clients outside of the office. We had both had some clumsy encounters, and it was fun to talk about. The question we were left with is: as therapists, how concerned do we need to be about our clients seeing us differently than we would like to be seen? Do you want to run into your client at a Zumba class? At a ballgame with beer in hand? At Dunkin Donuts, in a …
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Quotes
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
February 14th, 2015

I like quotes; a good one can quickly deliver a powerful message. For example, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I have quotes posted in various places in my office. “Begin Anywhere.” “Keep it simple.” I have song quotes, the Serenity Prayer, and a Winnie the Pooh cartoon. I recently added a small blackboard to my office (replacing a print of Picasso’s Petite Fleurs), and I’ve been tryi …
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Intro...
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 21st, 2015

This is my second version of this article - the original one got lost in cyberspace due to a technical glitch. Sort of the modern day equivalent to the missing sock in the washing machine...at least I have my socks. I will occasionally post an article or blog piece, or whatever these things are called. But mostly this will be a place for me to share favorite quotes, sayings, poetry, prayers, and other assorted random but meaningful things. Like …
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Cancellations, With Notice
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
February 21st, 2015

When I first started working as a fee-for-service clinician, one of my pet peeves was not getting paid for missed sessions. I felt that the financial part of the issue clouded my ability to make a good clinical judgement of the situation. And, of course, I didn’t like not getting paid. I’ve since made my peace with clinic work life and its realities, but I sometimes find myself stuck once again on missed appointment and late cancellat …
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Some much needed sun on a Sunday..
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 22nd, 2015

Mary Oliver writes poetry. Lots of it. I don't get it all. Some of it seems to be the verbal equivalent of beautiful nature paintings. But when I do get it, it resonates. Deeply. So here's one of those: THE JOURNEY One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!&rdq …
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Monday
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 23rd, 2015

They say that when Rumi, the famous Persian Sufi poet died, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike attended his funeral. In reading his words, it isn't hard to see why. Although I don't read Farsi and need to read his work through English translations, one can see tremendous depth of spirit and expression in his works. Here's a piece of his writing - it's actually a bit connected to my previous post, in that it speaks to our innate natural wisd …
2 comments
Tuesday
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 24th, 2015

  “To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”  -JOHANN VON GOETHE   ALMIGHTY God, Source of all the energy of life, Without you I am helpless. Give me the courage – The physical drive, the emotional energy, and the spiritual will – To risk in order to grow, to Welcome every challenge as my life unfolds.  -R. NATAN OF BRESLOV   . …
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Serenity
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 25th, 2015

 What is serenity? It isn't so easy to define a feeling. But serenity is also a feeling and mind-state. I rather like the folowing descriptor: "Serenity is the ability to accept pleasant and unpleasant feelings; to know what you feel and to accept it even if that feeling is uncomfortable." UNKNOWN Combine that with the following two little gems: “Pain is what I walk through. Misery is what I sit in.” UNKNOWN "Seren …
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A Mindful Thursday
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 26th, 2015

  THE GUEST HOUSE  This being human is a guest-house. Every morning a new arrival.   A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.   Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,   still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.   The dark thought, the sham …
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Erev Shabbos
Author: Dovid Kohn
February 27th, 2015

G-d Sees Shades of Gray -I did not choose this title.. but it's a good one. Following is a nice Dvar Torah taken from a shiur given by Rabbi Frand (an uncle and Rebbe of mine). The Medrash says that when Moshe descended from Mt. Sinai and saw that Aaron was apparently an active participant with the Jewish people in making the Golden Calf, he was exceedingly upset. The Medrash explains that Aaron's intent was only to stall until Moshe came back d …
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Blue and Black and White and Gold
Author: Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW
February 27th, 2015

One of the amazing things about the internet is the speed in which things can capture our collective attention. This week’s latest is an ambiguously colored dress. (If you haven’t seen it, I’ve put some reference links at the bottom of this post.) It’s white and gold,  or maybe it’s blue and black. As usual, once the initial viral wave passes, there are the posts that seek to find meaning or wisdom, and perhaps …
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All Care is Not Equal: The Advantage of Treatment by a Psychiatrist
March 1st, 2015

Shalom Feinberg, MD But they are both MD’s… Moshe hasn’t been feeling well for months. He has a growing list of medical complaints and worries. His family doctor examines him and finds no illness to explain his symptoms. Moshe is no longer able to help his wife Leah with their children as he withdraws into bed whenever he is at home. With the help of a credible referral agency, Leah finds a competent psychiatrist nearby and cal …
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Anxious? Or Just Jewish?
March 1st, 2015

Shimmy Feintuch, LMSW   Being Jewish would make even a Buddhist monk anxious. There are so many laws and rituals that are part of our daily lives. Did you eat enough matzah? Is it time for davening yet? Or worse, is it too late? Did you say the words just right, or was it slightly off? Better say it again, then. Young children learn particular laws, such as those regarding hand washing, early, to form routines that will last a lifetime. But …
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Understanding Assessments
March 1st, 2015

Dr. Judith Guedalia, PhD   As a parent, teacher or mental health professional, we have surely, at one point or another, been bombarded with referrals to do testing or assessments. “Testing” may refer to every area in our anatomy and psyche. Some are physically intrusive, and others emotionally so. Most are expensive in time and money. What is the purpose for, and what exactly are, assessments? When a child or adult is referred fo …
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Depression or Ordinary Sadness?
March 1st, 2015

Pamela P. Siller, MD   All of us know what sadness feels like. Some may feel disappointment with a less-than-perfect grade in school. Others get upset after an argument with a spouse. Many of us have cried after a loss, whether a death, argument, or even a geographic relocation. Sadness is expressed differently by each of us, as we are individuals. Yelling, crying, and irritability are the most common reactions to loss or unhappiness, but so …
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Getting the Help You Need: Who Can Provide Treatment?
March 1st, 2015

Hindie M. Klein, PsyD   Beginning psychotherapy can be very liberating. It is often the first step in a therapeutic process that hopefully ends with a decrease in disturbing symptoms, improved relationships and a restored sense of well-being. Getting to that first step takes strength and courage. It requires recognition that there are vulnerabilities, problems, and challenges. It requires a true desire for change. A frequent question may ari …
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Mussar or Marriage Counseling?
March 1st, 2015

Chaya Feuerman LCSW-R Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, LCSW-R   The frustrations people experience in marriage are actually opportunities. According to Chazal, when Man was first created, he was a double being, with two faces and two sides. One side was male and the other was female (Rashi, Bereishis 1:27). This suggests that a human being is not complete unless he or she has successfully integrated both the male and female aspects of his or her perso …
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Overview of Addictions
March 1st, 2015

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski We know that people may become addicted to alcohol or drugs. There are a number of other common addictions: cigarettes, food, gambling, sex, shopping, the internet. Although addiction cannot be precisely defined, we may say that anytime a person loses control over a behavior that he wishes to control (or should wish to control), that is addiction. We do not know what causes addiction.In addition to psychological/emoti …
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