kosher bookworm

Meir Wikler’s Torah-inspired psychotherapy


Recently, Dr. Meir Wikler published the fascinating “Behind Closed Doors: Over 45 Years of Helping People Overcome Their Challenges” (Menucha Publishers). The distinguished rabbi and doctor Abraham J. Twersky had this to say about the work: “Although people are now more knowledgeable about psychotherapy, there is still a mystique about what happens and why. Dr. Wikler, with vast experience in the field, demystifies psychotherapy, enabling both clients and therapists to understand the process.”

I present to you, in his own words, Dr. Wikler’s personal take as culled from his many years in practice.

When I entered the mental health field, you could count the number of frum therapists on your fingers. Today they number in the thousands … In the past, it was a common communal attitude that if you became a therapist or consulted one, your Yiddishkeit was called into question. Today, baruch Hashem, that is no longer the case…

In the Haggadah Shel Pesach, after we recite the list of the Eser Makkos, we proclaim, “Rabi Yehudah hayah nosein bahem simanim: d’tzach, adash, b’achav.” … What did Rabbi Yehudah accomplish with that? And why was it included in the Haggadah? …

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch [says that] the first group was meant to reveal Hashem’s power on water and land. The second group was inflicted to demonstrate Hashem’s control over living creatures and human beings. And the third group was intended to declare Hashem’s dominion over the air.

Rabbi Yehudah’s simanim, therefore, contain much more meaning and significance than their simply being abbreviations. In a similar vein, the clinical techniques and therapeutic strategies included here represent much more than simple prescriptions and homework assignments. They represent the distillation of much of my education, training, and clinical experience working with thousands of individuals, couples, and families.

Each technique is presented together with at least one case that illustrates how it was applied to a real-life situation. Needless to say, all of the names and identifying information have been thoroughly disguised … Hopefully this book will enable the reader to become more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the therapeutic process. And, in some cases, the reader may even be able to use the techniques described here to overcome his or her own personal struggles or those of someone close who may be confronted with one or more of the issues covered.

In addition, novice and experienced therapists may find useful tools here which they can add to their own repertoires, making them even more effective and successful than they already are in their practice of the noble profession of helping others. And finally, volunteers who work for chesed organizations serving disadvantaged or challenged clients may be able to use these techniques to assist them in their avodas kodesh.

In short, this is my attempt to share with others what I have learned about coping with and overcoming many of life’s hurdles. And, hopefully, readers will be able to benefit from the strategies contained here to achieve greater life satisfaction, peace of mind, and success in their avodas Hashem — for themselves, their families, and their fellow Yidden.