Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There was such a good comment by AgnosticWriter that I had to give it the post that it deserved. I'm no therapist but I have great respect for the field. I've heard and seen people have real psychological struggles in regards to leaving religion. So here's the post.

I agree with FedUp that existential angst should be taken seriously.

A few further thoughts:

1. Finding the right therapist is very important. Although we might hope that all therapists are open-minded and professionally objective, that's by no means always the case. They're humans, too, and subject to the same vulnerabilities and biases as the rest of humanity--and sometimes these leak through in their dealings with patients/clients. Also, due to differences in temperament, background, and other factors, a good therapist for one person is not necessarily a good therapist for another.

Bottom line? Find the right therapist for you. And if at first you don't, don't give up on therapy, overall. There are good therapists out there who can be of help.

2. In my experience (as a therapist and an ex-frum person) sometimes a good friend or two, with whom one can discuss the issues and feel less alone, or at least vent one's frustrations and get some sympathy, can be as helpful (and far less expensive) than a therapist.

But, of course, in cases of serious depression, or despair, it's usually wise to seek professional help.

3. Books can be enormously helpful--both intellectually and emotionally. In my journey, I found, for the intellectual side of things, among many others, books by Walter Kaufmann very helpful ("Faith of A Heretic" and "Critique of Religon and Philosophy") and for the emotional side of things, I found helpful, among others, books by David Burns ("The Feeling Good Handbook" and others on managing emotions by cognitive therapy techniques) and Nathaniel Branden ("Six Pillars of Self-Esteem").

In short, the right therapist (one with whom you "click" and feel safe and understood, and who is able to help you cope and heal) can offer some benefits unavailable from books. Still, books offer some benefits not necessarily available from therapy sessions--such as hours and hours of low-cost, in-depth, always available information and encouragement, free of the possible emotional static or possible shame involved in dealing with a live person.

E'lu Va'Elu Divrei...