NEFESH: The International Network of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals
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My Spouse's Therapist is Getting The Wrong Picture
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
September 28th, 2022

Question: Here is a question I've been troubled by for a while. Many times, people will send their kid or spouse to therapy, but the kid or spouse is somewhat in denial or confused. They may see reality in a twisted way or be somewhat lying to themself or only see their side of the picture due to their emotional/mental health issue. When they sit and talk to the therapist, they are only giving over that twisted picture of real …
1 comments
Are Adolescents and Young Adults Extreme?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
June 9th, 2022

Question: Our 20-year-old son recently returned home from a year learning in Israel. He is boy who struggled a lot in his teens both academically and religiously. Baruch Hashem, he seems to have had an excellent year of growth, he likes his Rabbiem and has learned a lot about being a mentsch , though he still has a way to go. He is very proud of his year and some new concepts and ideas he has learned. The yeshiva has an emphasis on emotional heal …
0 comments
Purim: Simcha or Stress?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 14th, 2022

Question: Purim in my family is always a struggle. It is a very short day and everyone has their things that they want (need?) to do. My husband has his Rov, his family, his friends, and his boss that he needs to stop by. I have my family which requires a few different stops and of course the kids have rebbiem and morahs and friends that they want to see. Last year the day turned really stressful with a big fight between my hu …
0 comments
Protecting our Children
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
January 18th, 2022

Question: Thank you so much for your informative column. Once again, the importance of being diligent regarding the emotional and physical safety of our children has been hammered home. I was hoping that based on your years of experience as clinicians you could offer some guidance and advice as to what we as parents and members of a community should do to best protect our children?       There is much to say on this topic. One year …
0 comments
Enabling or Chessed?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
December 8th, 2021

Question: My 27-year-old brother has become very stuck in his life and dependent on my sisters and me. He should be fully capable of getting a job, getting married, and moving forward with life. Instead, he has come to completely rely on his siblings for everything.(Our parents are sweet people but older and not so involved.) He sleeps in my sister's basement and eats the meals by us. He will occasionally get a job, but i …
0 comments
Can I become happier?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
September 17th, 2021

Question: I am not a happy person, is there a way to change that? That is honestly my whole question. I am pretty much fine in every way, I have a good husband, healthy frum kids, a decent job, we have decent parnassah, are part of a nice kehilla etc.. Yes, I have the stresses of every frum family but nothing major. With all that said I am a pretty moody and cynical person. If I am being fully honest, I always have been. I som …
2 comments
My child is not cut out for learning
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
August 23rd, 2021

  Question: As parents of a large family, we have always thanked Hashem for the fact that our children were smart, academic, and did very well in school. While there was an occasional hiccup here and there it was nothing that a little tutoring or extra help couldn't fix. With our youngest son it seems clearer and clearer that he is a bit different. He has trouble paying attention, isn't really interested in school and seems to be that kind o …
0 comments
9 days, holocaust plays, and child anxiety
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
July 7th, 2021

Question: What is it with camps scaring the wits out kids. How come all the scary plays, holocaust stories, and color war breakouts. Granted my kids are a bit sensitive but do I need to have them come home from day camp all terrorized? Are these things appropriate? Are my kids just wimps? Can these types of things negatively impact kids?   Let us break this question down into a few parts.    1) Is constant exposure to "scary" ev …
0 comments
Why is therapy so expensive?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
June 3rd, 2021

Question: I have a question which I hope you can help me with. I'm looking for a new therapist, one that is in-network and takes my insurance. I am doing a ton of research, calling up therapists and clinics, but I keep bumping into the money issue. I just hung up with yet another therapist that didn't work out, and I'm honestly feeling helpless, hopeless and demoralized. Is this how the system is going to work? Is mo …
2 comments
Shidduchim & Medication
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
May 6th, 2021

Question: My son has struggled with a kind of constant but not so severe depression for a while. He has a lot of trouble moving forward, being productive, and is often just down. He is at the age where he should be starting shidduchim and many of his friends are dating. He has been working with a therapist and had been getting better but recently is not doing as well. His therapist has suggested that he see a psychiatrist to possib …
0 comments
Supportive psychotherapy
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
April 5th, 2021

Question: I am wondering if therapy can help a person who is in a difficult situation that can’t be changed. I understand if someone is depressed with life therapy can help them feel better but if someone is dealing with a reality that is bad is there a point of going to therapy? I understand the question is broad, but I would prefer not to go into my own personal details. Either way there are many such examples, financial, familial, medica …
1 comments
Why do frum people pursue alternative treatments?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 8th, 2021

Question: My sister has a difficult time with her 2 of her children. They are socially awkward, struggle in school and seem to me to be very anxious. Whenever they go through something difficult, she seems to quickly find a "medical" related reason why whatever is happening is happening. One time it's strep, one time PANDAS, or Lyme disease or whatever else. She runs around from doctor to doctor getting all sorts of treatments for them.  Non …
20 comments
A Purim Question!
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
February 22nd, 2021

Question: I am writing regarding my wife who is unfortunately happy all the time. She is always excited and cheerful, and I just can’t stand it anymore. She even loves puppies and cute animals, stops to compliment people on the street and in general is just annoyingly optimistic. What can you suggest to deal with this??      I happen to specialize in this issue and need to tell you that you are not alone. Although since la …
0 comments
Labeling children
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
February 8th, 2021

Question: A well-known educator recently spoke out strongly against "labeling" a child. Even if a child has a mental health issue and is receiving services, we must make sure he/she is not labeled. The remark struck a chord with me as 2 of my children are currently in therapy one for behavioral issues and one for anxiety. While the idea of not labeling a child sounds nice in theory, I am not sure how to put it in practice. At the end of the day m …
0 comments
Should we talk to kids about weed?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
December 12th, 2020

Question: The unfortunate reality is that marijuana use is becoming increasingly less taboo in society. This has been driven home by the recent vote in NJ to legalize its use. Until recently it never would have crossed my mind as something I need to worry about with my children. However, with its increased prevalence in society, I am starting to wonder if this is something I need to discuss with my kids? Do you think this is something I should ha …
3 comments
Corona 4: Overwhelmed with homeschooling
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
April 20th, 2020

Question: On a regular week, in normal times, I have so much on my plate. Now I am expected to care for my infant (no babysitter), keep house (no cleaning help), work from home, entertain my kids, and be in charge of their homeschooling. This while my husband is also expected to work full time from home. When I hear people talk about how this time offers us opportunities to learn with our children, quality time, etc.. I wonder what I am miss …
0 comments
Corona 3; Dealing with Pesach
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 31st, 2020

Question:  We live out of town and do not get a chance to see much of our extended family that often. A highlight of our year is the Yomim Tovim where we travel to our children. The thought of being home all alone for Yom Tov is just so sad for me. Baruch Hashem I get along with my husband but I was so looking forward to Yom Tov with the delicious grandchildren. I know that there are people that are sick and that in comparison this is not su …
0 comments
Corona 2: Dealing with Isolation
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 31st, 2020

Question: I am currently in self isolation on my doctors recommendation due to being exposed to covid19. Unfortunately, many others are currently  in the same situation and many more will be in the coming weeks. I am basically alone in my room ( so as not to expose the rest of my family) for at least another 5 days. Others I know need to remain in their homes with their families. What advice and guidance can you give me and others l …
0 comments
Corona 1: Dealing with Worries
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 31st, 2020

Question: Any suggestions for coping for the tremendous amount of stress that coronavirus is adding to our lives? The constant stream of contradictory information from doctors, the hysteria of the media, and the genuine concern regarding what seems to be a serious problem is undeniably taking up alot of emotional space in my life.  Any recommendations ?       Much has already been written on this topic. I will attemp …
0 comments
Unlicensed therapists
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
January 14th, 2019

 Question: My sister-in-law sees an unlicensed therapist. This concerns me and I asked my sister-in-law about it who assured me that the therapist has very solid training and good results and she is happy with her. This doesn't sound right or ethical to me, but I am not sure what to do, if anything. I would appreciate the thoughts of the panel members.    It is impossible to comment on your sister-in-law as well as o …
4 comments
Piety or Scrupulosity
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
December 10th, 2018

Question: We have a wonderful daughter who is back from seminary, happily working and doing very well BH, but here is the concern...  While my daughter was in high school she started taking on more and more chumras and started becoming more and more frum and shtark. It affected her relationship with her friends, how she dressed, what she ate, (or didn't eat), her sleep, her davening, her ability and confidence in he …
1 comments
Rav Yerucham Olshin at the recent Agudah MHP conference
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
November 30th, 2018

Words of Chizuk from Rav Yeruchem Olshin Shlita Publicized with permission   ברשות the חשובע עולם:   First, I understand that you all take care of Jewish patients. Your work is about helping our brothers as the רמב"ם writes (Matnas Aniyim 10:2)  כל ישראל כאחים הם. This concept is not just an isolated רמב"ם. It is also a גמרא in Daf Bais of מגילה: The Chachamim made it easy for the villa …
0 comments
Kibbud Av Vaeim for abusive parents?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
November 5th, 2018

Question: My parents are very controlling, critical, self-centered and emotionally unstable (they may possibly have personality disorders).  One of my sisters recently started disconnecting by minimizing her interactions with my parents. My parents are very hurt and angry and are trying many tactics to change my sister's behaviors (which includes badmouthing her to rabbanim). I come from a large family and all of the children are m …
0 comments
Night terrors
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
October 15th, 2018

Question: My very bright, mature, lovable, happy 5-year-old son has begun to experience what I have been told is called "night terror". He is a very happy child during the day, definitely with a more intense personality, but very healthy and well-adjusted and extremely bright. At night, he will wake up in terror, screaming, cowering in the corner, looking at me or my husband with terror, eyes opened wide, with real fear, and then a few minut …
0 comments
Behavior (Chain) Analysis
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
September 17th, 2018

Question: I am a young adult with anxiety and constantly beat myself with mistakes that I make. I was wondering if you can please give me insight on how to deal with it. I'm a bit impulsive. For example, I spent a bit too much on food recently and now I'm upset that I don't have any money left for more important things I need. I think very bad thoughts that are not letting me move on in life. I get very tense and have negative thou …
0 comments
Anxiety & the Yomim Noraim
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
September 2nd, 2018

 Question: I have struggled with anxiety all my life. I spent a few years in therapy and BH have it under control to the point where is doesn't severely impact my life like it used to. My question is regarding the upcoming Yemei Hadin I wonder if the paralyzing Yirah that I used to feel is the proper avodah for me or, given my predisposition, not a good idea to focus on. Perhaps precisely the opposite I should work on remaining cal …
0 comments
Peer pressure: Good or bad?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
August 7th, 2018

Question: Can you please give me some good guidelines on how to deal with peer pressure? I am very affected by what the people around me are doing.  I don't know if it's that I'm afraid of people getting angry with me or I need to be the center of attention. I think that that is my most difficult challenge and if I could just not be afraid to be different I would be a much better person.   This is a good question. You are …
0 comments
Tisha B'av, suffering, and Hashem's love
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
July 18th, 2018

Based on a Shiur from Rabbi Eliyahu Brudny  Tisha B’av, as we all know, is a tremendous paradox. It is simultaneously a Yomtov, a fast-day, and a Yom Avel that all somehow go hand in hand. We sit on the floor like Availim and then, based on the Pasuk of "Koro Aloi Moed", we omit several sad parts of davening  including lamnatzeiach, tachanun, or tzidkoscha tzedek.  This is such a rare occurrence to have su …
0 comments
Suicides Have Increased: Is This an Existential Crisis?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
July 4th, 2018

I wanted to share excerpts from this New York Times article by Clay Routledge.  It touches on many important themes including the role of meaning, community, contributing, family, and religion.   I touched on some of these themes in the following blogposts.   https://nefesh.org/ChaimNeuhoff/footsteps-ii.html.  Related to the loneliness and despair of those who have left Orthodoxy.    https://nefesh.org/ChaimNeuhoff/a …
0 comments
My child is becoming obese
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
June 18th, 2018

 Question: We b'H have a wonderful almost 10-year-old son; he is a fantastic kid, smart, conscientious, studious, well-behaved. bright, a real baal middos and a budding  talmid chacham. He brings us a tremendous amount of nachas. The problem, he likes to eat and has been steadily gaining since 5 years old. First, it was ten pounds, then 20, and now more each passing year. At almost 10 years old, he is 130 lbs.  …
2 comments
Scared of the Sacred
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
May 29th, 2018

Question: I would like to get your opinion on something that has been bothering me for a long time. I am afraid to do hagba (lifting the Torah scroll). I have only done it once in my life ( with a really small Sefer Torah). I should be strong enough but I just have such a fear that I will drop it. I will usually duck out of shul when it’s time for hagbah so that the Gabbai won’t approach me for it and if I do get asked I always r …
0 comments
Which career is right for me?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
May 22nd, 2018

Question: The time has come in my life for me to make a parnassah to support my family. I am having a difficult time choosing what career path I would like to take and what field I want to get involved in. I am generally not a person that has a hard time making up his mind but I can’t seem to settle on something that I think I would be good at and interested in. Someone mentioned that therapists are trained in career counseling so …
0 comments
LGBTQ inclusion in the Orthodox community?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
May 15th, 2018

 A colleague recently shared the following video with me.   https://youtu.be/xrFyW9MITxs   This is a video of young Orthodox men and women who self identify as homosexual. I found the clip, by and large, to be evocative and poignant. These are people who I identified and empathized with. The communities, schools, and types of families discussed were my own; they could have been me, my neighbors, or even my children.   At the s …
19 comments
Rabbi or Therapist?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
April 23rd, 2018

Question: Our daughter has recently asked us to see (and pay for) a therapist. She says that her reasons for this are because she feels empty, without direction in life and is not finding fulfillment. She is 22 years old, has never had any issues before, had no major difficulties in life, has a good job and has always done well. My husband and I have always felt that she could be a little more sincere with her yiddishkeit. She does ever …
1 comments
Anxious Children & Holocaust Education
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
April 16th, 2018

Question: My 5th grade son recently came home from a friend’s house frightened and in tears. He was literally shaking. When I finally managed to calm him down he told me that his friend had been showing him books with pictures of the Holocaust. There were pictures of the mass graves, crematoria, and people being shot and hung. Including little children. My husband and I sat with him for a long time trying to reassure him and calm him down. …
0 comments
Should I quit smoking?
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 26th, 2018

Question: I took my first cigarette in 9th grade. I have been smoking steadily for the past 15 years. If I am honest I realize that it is a big health risk but that doesn’t seem to motivate me to stop. I guess I kind of “want to want” to stop. It certainly would make my wife and parents happy.  My question is 1. Do you have any suggestions as to how to become more motivated to quit? 2. Are there any specific methods th …
0 comments
The Novominsker Rebbe's address
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 14th, 2018

בס"ד Remarks of the Novominsker Rebbe (Rabbi Yaakov Perlow) at the recent MHP Agudah conference, November 2017. Words of introduction from Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel ברשות the Rebbe שליט"א and ברשות the wonderful people who have gathered today. You are dedicated professionals who continue on a daily basis to make such a tremendous difference on our communities and on the world around us. When I was growing up, this idea of Mental …
0 comments
Trichotillomania & Therapy
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
March 9th, 2018

Question: I am a teenage girl who bh has many things going for her; I have a great, loving family, plenty of friends, good grades and all in all I am very happy. I do suffer from trichotillomania (I pull out my hair). But just to make it clear those that don't know would not be able to tell, My friends know and really don't think it to it, it really has no effect on my life. Do you think it is necessary to go for therapy or do whatever it ta …
0 comments
Talking to children about death
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
February 21st, 2018

Question: My mother-in-law has been fighting a very serious illness for the last few years. At this time the doctors say that they have no more treatments to offer her. I don't think my husband really accepts the implications of this. My children have always had a close relationship with their grandmother and are always asking when she is going to get better. We have been very positive throughout this but now I am not sure how to approach it with …
1 comments
Aging, Loss, and Kibud Av V'eim
Author: Chaim Neuhoff, Ph.D.
January 30th, 2018

Question: I am writing regarding my father. My father is an extremely bright person and a professional who has been working the same job for many years. As he has recently entered his 60’s I notice that he just seems to be very down. My youngest sister recently got married an there is no one living at home any more. I also see that the younger people seem to be advancing in his company while his career seems to be stalled. I am not sur …
0 comments
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