Veiling and Unveiling: Caution in Explicitly Integrating Jewish Spirituality in Psychotherapy in Israel

Ofra Mayseless, Marianna Ruah Midbar Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research is the first to investigate the integration of Jewish spirituality in psychotherapy by certified psychotherapists in Israel, a nation marked by diverse cultural sensitivities regarding Jewish identity (e.g., secular, traditional, religious, Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox). In this qualitative study, we conducted in-depth interviews with 15 certified therapists (five women and 10 men trained in secular qualified academic programs; mean age, 51 years old), who had varying religious identities, ranging from ultra-Orthodox to secular, and served a broad spectrum of Jewish clients not directly reflecting their own Jewish stance. Three central themes emerged. First, although the participants identified themselves as integrating Jewish spirituality in their practice, they voiced and practiced caution in unveiling Jewish spirituality aspects during the psychotherapy sessions or even in presenting themselves as doing so. This caution reflected their sensitivity to client needs and the desire to avoid deterring clients who held differing beliefs from theirs. The therapists became more proactive in unveiling Jewish spirituality when a positive therapist–client rapport was established. Second, they coordinated the veiling and unveiling of their Jewish spiritual perspective through three main channels: playing with language, using religious texts without treating them as such, and different kinds of nonreligious prayers. Third, the therapists adopted a flexible and universalistic attitude toward spiritual/secular/religious identity and about Jewish spiritual psychotherapy being for everyone, which supported this sophisticated process of veiling and unveiling of Jewish spirituality in their practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSpirituality in Clinical Practice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 American Psychological Association. All Rights Reserved.

Keywords

  • cultural sensitivity
  • Jewish psychotherapy
  • Jewish spirituality
  • psychotherapy
  • spirituality integrated psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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