Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Celine Thompson, PhD

Second Advisor

Susan P. Mindel, PhD

Third Advisor

Rachel Lazewnik, PhD


Literature on Orthodox Jews and their needs in therapy is limited. However, research on approaching therapy with highly religious, or spiritual clients, shows that addressing R/S in therapy is highly recommended. Studies have shown that although acknowledging the importance of addressing R/S is important, therapists may be hesitant to bring it up with clients. Therapists’ attitudes have been shown to have impact not only if R/S is addressed in therapy, but also how and when it is addressed. One of the factors that impacts if therapists address R/S is therapists’ own religious identity and attitudes to R/S in general. This qualitative study looks to bridge the gap between the research and its application on the Orthodox Jewish population. Twelve Orthodox Jewish therapists were interviewed to describe their attitudes towards addressing R/S with Orthodox clients, how they go about addressing it, and how they feel their own religious identity impacts their approach to therapy with this population. Analysis of interviews found that there is a spectrum of attitudes, ranging from extremely positive to being cautious, relative to addressing R/S. All therapists did endorse addressing R/S with Orthodox clients in some way, but how they addressed it varied. Interviewees also felt that their own religious beliefs impacted therapy, and described ways they can manage to monitor it effectively. Through the coding process, themes emerged that created an overarching guiding theory of “Factors that impact therapist’s attitudes towards addressing R/S with Orthodox Jewish clients.” These factors are recognizing boundaries, being client-centered, and recognizing how R/S intersects with mental health needs f the community. This study concludes with exploring how these factors can help understand and meet the mental health needs of this population. Implications for future research and limitations are also explored.

Included in

Psychology Commons