1st Edition

The Art of Jewish Pastoral Counseling
A Guide for All Faiths

ISBN 9781138690233
Published November 15, 2016 by Routledge
208 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

The Art of Jewish Pastoral Counseling provides a clear, practical guide to working with congregants in a range of settings and illustrates the skills and core principles needed for effective pastoral counseling. The material is drawn from Jewish life and rabbinic pastoral counseling, but the fundamental principles in these pages apply to all faith traditions and to a wide variety of counselling relationships. 

Drawing on relational psychodynamic ideas but writing in a very accessible style, Friedman and Yehuda cover when, how and why counseling may be sought, how to set up sessions, conduct the work in those sessions and deal with difficult situations, maintain confidentiality, conduct groupwork and approach traumatic and emotive subjects. They guide the reader through the foundational principles and topics of pastoral counseling and illustrate the journey with accessible and lively vignettes. By using real life examples accompanied by guided questions, the authors help readers to learn practical techniques as well as gain greater self-awareness of their own strengths and vulnerabilities.

With a host of examples from pastoral and clinical experience, this book will be invaluable to anyone offering counselling to both the Jewish community and those of other faiths. The Art of Jewish Pastoral Counseling will appeal to psychoanalysts, particularly those working with Jewish clients, counselors, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and rabbis offering pastoral counseling, as well as clergy of other faiths such as ministers, priests, imams and lay chaplains.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Turning to Clergy for Help

Chapter Two: Pastoral Counseling and Mental Health Treatment: a Comparison

Chapter Three: Pastoral Presence and Personal Life

Chapter Four: Setting Up the Pastoral Interview  

Chapter Five: Understanding What You Hear

Chapter Six: Preparing for the Unexpected

Chapter Seven: Establishing and Maintaining Confidentiality

Chapter Eight: Working in Groups

Chapter Nine: Integrating Components to Approach Complex Situations

Epilogue: Going Forward

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Michelle Friedman, MD, is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst long involved in bridging religious life and mental health issues. In 1998 Friedman began the pastoral counseling program at YCT Rabbinical School. She is now director of that program and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, NYC.

Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., is a psychologist and neuroscientist who has over the last 25 years conducted research on post-traumatic stress disorder and resilience. Dr. Yehuda has lectured in the Pastoral Counseling program at YCT, where she also served on the Board of Directors. She is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine. She is also the Director of Mental Health at the James J. Peters Bronx Veterans Affairs Hospital.  


"This book is necessary, informative, relevant, practical, and touching. For those interested in the modern rabbinate and its challenges, this book is heartily recommended. For those already in the pulpit, this book is required reading!"-Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President, Emeritus, Orthodox Union.

"The Art of Jewish Pastoral Counseling builds bridges – between pastoral counseling and psychotherapy, between rabbis and their congregants, between religious practice and supportive care. Its teachings are wise and clear in a way that both conveys and yet belies the depth of the thinking underlying them. This book brims with emotional and spiritual intelligence. Read it and leap to a new understanding of counseling in the religious context."-David Spiegel, M.D., Willson Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine.

"Congregants in crisis routinely turn to faith leaders for guidance. Friedman and Yehuda’s book will be of immense assistance to rabbis, pastors and other faith leaders in meeting the needs of those crying in the wilderness of this life."-Victor Vieth, Senior Director & Founder, Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, Board member, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)

"Rabbis are constantly confronted with suffering and complex human relationships. Friedman and Yehuda present an excellent foundation for good pastoral work: listening and establishing the necessary conditions that create trust, safety and resilience, being aware of one’s own reactions and being able to establish boundaries and limits in order to be of maximal comfort. This is a wonderful addition to the literature."-Bessel van der Kolk M.D., Medical Director Trauma Center @JRI, Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine.

"This masterfully written guide to pastoral counseling will be useful to clergy from many faith traditions. Some of the case studies pose quandaries specific to Judaism (e.g., a veteran who recently lost his left arm in battle asks how he can pray with phylacteries), but the subsequent discussions address pastoral care more broadly." -Elizabeth Palmer, PhD, Books Editor at the Christian Century Magazine

"She offers resources to help clients with mild to moderate depression who would not likely be hospitalized and envisions partnerships with parish clergy.Though not addressing the role of a chaplain, behavioral health chaplains could use this resource to move toward a deeper integration of spiritual care into their interdisciplinary team’s treatment of depressed clients. This may result in more informed referrals, adaptations in spiritual care provided to depressed clients that is congruent with cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] principles and possible themes or content for spirituality groups." -Chaplain Marcia Marino, DMin BCC, Teacher, Church of the Larger Fellowship (Unitarian Universalist) and the Oates Institute