Frum Therapist: Mental Health Resources for the Frum Community
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Mental Health Resources
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Logomensch
Batya Yaniger, PsyD
Click here to view my clinical profile
Logomensch is a weekly blog about meaning that draws from ancient Jewish wisdom and from Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy to assist in hearing the call to meaning that addresses us each, moment by moment.
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Showing Results 1 - 33 (33 total)
Mosaic Meditation
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
June 17th, 2020

Sit upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Relax your whole body and do a body scan starting from your feet and slowly going up focusing on being present in each part of your body. Release any remaining tension. Now slowly rise up in your mind to a view from above your body. Look at the world and everything in it in detail, observing the high mountains and the seas, the wildlife and domesti …
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Responsible for Your Greatness
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
June 11th, 2020

Sometimes I go outside to sit on my chair in my yard and eat lunch. It’s the same flowers, the same ground underneath my feet, the same as yesterday and the day before and the day before that. Or I’ll play piano and say so what? So I can play this piece a little bit better than yesterday. Is that what life is all about? What is the point? Those are the times I have lost my consciousness. Then I wake up to a higher consciousness. No! …
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Unity in Diversity
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
June 3rd, 2020

Logos is deeper than logic. We have within us a deep, intuitive grasp of meaning. This inner guide is more reliable than rational explanations and it is in our best interest to trust it.   The logotherapeutic goal is to identify the meaning crisis and uncover the client’s intuitive sense that will allow them to make meaningful choices. To this end, the logotherapist does not sit with a pen and paper to carefully gather lots of informa …
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Free to Love
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
May 28th, 2020

People who have had near death experiences report that they learned they we were sent to this world in order to learn certain things and in order to love. Viktor Frankl wrote that salvation is in and through love. In the words of rabbi Akiva, love is the ‘great principle’ of Torah (i.e the written and oral Jewish tradition). Another Torah giant, Hillel the elder commented that ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ sums up the e …
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Is Fear Only a Fight Flight or Freeze Response?
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
May 20th, 2020

Fear of God generates courage. Yet, it is still called fear. People put their foot on the brake when the sign warns of a speed trap because they don’t want to get a ticket. In Jewish tradition, this is called fear of punishment. It is viewed as a lower spiritual level because it is egocentric. The driver would not be afraid if he didn’t think a camera was filming him. Even without a camera, knowing that someone is watching stops you. …
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The Choice of Fear
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
May 13th, 2020

If you had an intentional choice to make, would you choose fear? A Talmudic source believes that fear is the basis for our healthy choices.   An angel by the name of Layla is appointed over pregnancy. The angel takes a drop [of semen], holds it up before the Creator and says ‘Master of the Universe, what will become of this drop: courageous or weak, wise or foolish, rich or poor?’ The angel does not say ‘evil or righteous,& …
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Freedom of No Choice
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
May 6th, 2020

Why does choice matter? It is only because we are free to choose that we are held accountable for our choices. If we have no choice in our actions then there is no such thing as crime and we might as well let all the prisoners go free. As a society we assume that when someone chooses wrongly they could have chosen rightly.   What kind of power is the power of choice?   See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adver …
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The Choice to Play One's Part
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
April 29th, 2020

My newly organized music jamming group was interrupted when the ministry of health banned social gatherings. My daughter gave birth but I could not visit my newborn grandchild. Everyone has similar stories. There is a saying in Yiddish ‘Man plans and God laughs.’ This is the year of disrupted plans. Disrupted plans cast doubt on our freedom of choice. Someone builds a house and it’s swept away by a tsunami. A newly certified pr …
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You Have a Choice
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
April 23rd, 2020

Do you feel like your life is going where you want it to? Do you believe that your past experience makes change impossible? Establishing freedom of choice is the first step towards spiritual and emotional and progress. Inner change depends on inner freedom. How do you know you have freedom of choice? For Viktor Frankl choice is self-evident. Actually only two types of people maintain that their will is not free; schizophrenic patients suffering f …
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Finding the 'What For?'
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
April 16th, 2020

We are being challenged today at a fast pace to change our habits and our lifestyle. It feels a little bit like being an adolescent again, being imposed upon by stifling rules that cause me to declare with an impudent tone ‘Why should I?’ The truth is, it is a legitimate question. Why should I sacrifice my comfort? Why should I invest time and effort? I have to have a good reason. Sometimes all we want is pity. We want to complain. We …
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The Most Empowering Self-Perception
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
April 1st, 2020

The most empowering self-perception is that you are a spiritual being. Believing that you are more than your body and your psychological mechanisms implies belief in your ability to reason, to have mastery over yourself and your environment, to discern and to choose wisely. You think about yourself. You reach for higher values and you know that everything you do matters. Having the perception that you were created in the divine image, you recogni …
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Empowering Self-Image
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
March 25th, 2020

How do you see yourself? Does your self-image empower you or dis-empower you? Logotherapy is based on what makes us uniquely human, including our ability to think about the meaning of our life, choose our attitude towards situations, focus outside our self and respond to what life is asking of us. We can further deepen our understanding of what it means to be human by looking at the Biblical creation story. Man was created in the ‘image of …
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Perspective in Hard Times
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
March 18th, 2020

Understandably, a lot of people are anxious today. Alongside the challenges of quarantine, isolation and fear a little virus is reminding us to drop our illusion of control and to come together to make a world a better place. Now we know that we are all in the same boat. The main focus in logotherapy for overcoming stress and anxiety is attitude and perspective. We tend to downplay the role of perspective in change, preferring to look for tools a …
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The Awareness Spectrum
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
January 12th, 2020

The last four long-term strategies for connecting with conscience are humility, learning from experience, self-examination and self-worth. Conscience is the awareness that we are we are called by life. We are given a task by virtue of the situations we find ourselves in, moment by moment. These four strategies build a growing perceptiveness. Humility brings the awareness that I am here for a reason that is not of my own making. Therefore, I can u …
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Critical Thinking and Humility
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
December 29th, 2019

The ninth strategy for connecting with conscience is to think critically and have humility. We learn this strategy from the rabbis who codified Jewish law. For them, it was not a strategy. It was a way of life. The rabbis of the Talmud, intellectual and spiritual giants, engaged in heated debates over the fine points of the law in order to get to the truth. They examined every possible angle because truth is always bigger than what one person can …
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Gratitude
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
December 22nd, 2019

The eighth strategy for connecting to conscience is gratitude. Gratitude is an attitude of appreciation for everything we have, whatever it is. A constant state of gratitude puts an end to all feelings of entitlement. When I drop all expectations and take nothing for granted, everything is a cause for celebration and joy. In the absence of complaint – ‘I am missing this thing’…’This is not going my way…&rsquo …
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Seek Out Opportunities for Kindness
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
December 17th, 2019

The seventh strategy for cultivating a connection with conscience is: Seek out opportunities for kindness. We are living in an age in which we are transitioning slowly but surely away from mind-body separation to mind-body connection. The holistic perspective certainly has an effect on medicine. It also has an effect on psychology. Viktor Frankl broke the paradigm of separation when he rejected the reductionism of psychodynamic psychology and pos …
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Listen to Other Opinions
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
December 8th, 2019

The sixth strategy for connecting with conscience is: Listen to Other Opinions Listening is a big problem in the world today. We are not receptive to hearing a different viewpoint. Dissent has become taboo. We need to be willing and capable of hearing other people’s opinions because it helps us connect to our conscience.  What does conscience have to do with listening to the opinions of others? Isn’t conscience about listening to …
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Be a Participant of Life
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
December 1st, 2019

The fifth long-term strategy for how to cultivate a relationship with conscience is: Be a Participant of Life Conscience tells you how to relate to what is happening at any given moment. The intuitive sense of ‘right response’ implies a relationship between ‘me’ and ‘other.’ You are not an alien from outer space, even though you might feel that way at times. You belong here, and you have a unique role to play. …
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What is Important?
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
November 24th, 2019

Strategy #4 for strengthening relationship with conscience: Focus on what is important. People who suffer from schizophrenia hear voices in their head. Actually, we all hear voices. We just don’t speak their messages out loud. We don’t act on them. We know that they are not a true reflection of reality.  But the running commentary is there all the time. Knowing that these thoughts are not worth taking seriously does not mean you …
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Pay Attention to the Obvious
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
November 17th, 2019

In the quest for deeper meaning, we often forget to pay attention to the obvious. Frankl posits, ‘The therapist should enable the patient to see the world as it is.’ Why do we ignore the obvious? For one thing, we are blind to the reality in front of us because we are immersed in the reality that is within us. This includes everything that preoccupies us and prevents us from being present: beliefs, emotional reactivity, misperceptions …
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Be Honest With Yourself
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
November 10th, 2019

The second strategy for how to develop a relationship with your conscience and be happier about your decisions is to tell yourself the truth. In the smallest of ways catch yourself when you are lying to yourself. Is this in my best interest? For example, do I really want to go there? Is this depleting me? Am I treating myself with respect? Am I ignoring reality and pretending my behavior won’t have a detrimental effect? Does my behavior ma …
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A Spirit of Stupidity
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
November 3rd, 2019

Mrs. B, a woman in the early fifties, has been plagued by anxiety for decades. Her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and she grew up as a neglected, unwanted, unloved child. She is married with six children and seems to have a good life, but her anxiety creates a multitude of problems for herself and in her relationships. She experiences heart palpitations, tightness in her chest and irregular breathing. To escape these sensations, she star …
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How to Be Happy with your Decisions
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
October 27th, 2019

There are lots of tiny decisions we all make every day. What is the best thing to do? What would make you happy with yourself looking back at the end of your life? These are the kinds of questions logotherapy addresses. Is there a way you can know which will be the most satisfying and meaningful choice? We can address the question in one of two ways: in the moment and long term. In the moment, you can be still and listen, and you will hear and in …
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Logoeducation
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
September 23rd, 2019

Often in therapy you are educating the client to adopt a different perspective. One aspect to logoeducation is teaching the client to put the spotlight on meanings and values, rather than on one’s self-concerns. Self-absorption is very much of a therapeutic issue.  People who are depressed are self-absorbed. People who are paying excessive attention to themselves are incapable of getting over their stage fright. And so on.    …
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Alternating Diagnosis
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
September 15th, 2019

The three phases of therapy are diagnosis, therapy and follow-up. In the first phase, diagnosis, the therapist asks lots of questions and identifies the problem. Gathering information helps to formulate a plan of what to do. The down side is that the same questions that give the therapist a better picture of the problem actually adds to the client’s despair and depression. The reason for this is that the client has been thinking obsessively …
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The Power to Overcome Bad Choices
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
September 9th, 2019

There is power to our choices. The Talmud describes a perspective of wisdom, of prophecy and of God on what happens to the sinner. Firstly, what is a sin? Tradition teaches that it is like shooting an arrow at a target and missing the mark. We are endowed as human beings with the desire for greatness, and instead we act shamefully. We are endowed with the desire to be helpful and instead we are hurtful. We want to empower and we dis-empower. We w …
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Voice Training
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
September 1st, 2019

Logotherapy could be called a training program in how to listen to the voice of conscience. More to the point, it trains you to hear the voice that comes through conscience. You are at every moment in a dialogue with life, or consider it a dialogue with God. The role of the Logotherapist is to facilitate the dialogue that conscience hears. The questions that the Logotherapist asks are actually questions that the client needs to ask him or herself …
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Inner Space and Outer Space
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
August 26th, 2019

I have just spent an intensive week at the Internal Compass music festival. One of the things I learned from Henrique Eisenman, a musician from Brazil was ‘You don’t need to play in order for the music to exist.’ Music exists in an inner space and an outer space. For example, you can play a melody repeatedly and feel it reverberating in your head. Alternatively you can hear a melody in your head first and then play it. You have …
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Knowing the Right Question to Ask
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
August 12th, 2019

One of the frequently asked questions in Logotherapy is: How do you know what is the right question to ask? There is a case cited by Elizabeth Lukas in her book Meaning in Suffering of an 18-year-old girl who, due to a medical condition appears to be 12 years old. As soon as Lukas met the girl and addressed her as ‘young lady,’ the girl picked up an ashtray from the table and angrily threw it across the room. This was yet another indi …
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The Ought Not To Be
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
August 4th, 2019

After my article “Meaning in Loss” I was asked: “I like the part in the article where you explain that ‘it was meant to be’ is not in line with Frankl's theory. However, do religious people usually say ‘It was meant to be,’ in the sense that it was G-d's will?” One of the ways to find meaning in suffering is to adopt a philosophy that frames the situation from a higher perspective. However, while s …
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Meaning in Loss
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
July 28th, 2019

Logotherapy helps people with philosophical problems that impact their life. For example: How do people deal philosophically with the problem of loss? One may deal with their pain by embracing a new reality with an attitude of ‘It was meant to be.’ If you are one of those people, you might not agree with Frankl’s formulation of the tension that is felt between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought not to be.’ In suff …
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Life Questions Us
Author: Batya Yaniger, PsyD
July 23rd, 2019

And Miriam chanted for them ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously.’ (Exodus 15:21) The word va'ta'an, translated as ‘chanted’, is used in modern Hebrew to mean ‘answered.’ However, in this context, no one is asking Miriam a question. Rather, something profound has just occurred. A nation of slaves has miraculously been redeemed, and now, just as the Egyptian army is in hot pursuit and all seems to …
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