Psychotherapy of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel – A qualitative assessment of conflicts and reconciliations


  • Esther Hess
  • Horia Pitariu


The ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel is highly homogeneous and is virtually isolated from the surrounding secular society. Nevertheless, in recent years some openness to psychotherapy has emerged. In this paper the first author, herself a member of the ultra-orthodox community and a psychotherapist, presents a series of analyses and discussions of the major issues raised by therapy amongst members of this community. This study had two main objectives: a) a qualitative assessment of possible conflicts between the subjects strong religious convictions and the essence of psychotherapy; some conflicts were indeed detected which were followed by individual modes of reconciliation, b) an attempt to discover whether the psychotherapy had an impact on the level of observance of the Jewish commandments and customs; some indications for a lessening of such observance were found. This study, being the first of its kind, could provide a basis for studying the effects of psychotherapy on subjects belonging to isolated communities.