17 Sivan 5779 / Thursday, June 20, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
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The Origins of Emuna Coaching    

The Origins of Emuna Coaching

A lot of the psychoanalytic theory that my therapy was based on had been quite brilliant, in many respects, but it simply didn't have the power to heal my Jewish soul…


I started my career as a really serious student of psychoanalysis and its founder, Dr. Sigmund Freud. I came by it naturally: my mother was a psychoanalyst. That meant that I was raised to believe that nobody is normal. Rather, the world is divided into three clinical categories: psychotic, borderline and neurotic. According to this world-view, normal people simply don't exist, and it is beyond the scope of science, or even the best parents, to raise normal healthy children.


Ok, so Freud was a pessimist. I told myself that if being neurotic was the highest level a person could achieve, I would strive to be the highest functioning neurotic that I could!


Following my acceptance into a post-graduate psychoanalytic training program and armed with my sparkling new 27-volume set of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, I was sure that the gates of happiness were about to swing open for me. I was about to enter a great new world of clarity and understanding about myself and others. My secret hope was that all of my doubts, conflicts and neurotic preoccupations would be removed, and that I would be privy to the wisdom to cure many people. I couldn’t wait to embark upon my career as a psychoanalyst.



Let’s jump forward almost 40 years. Did I fulfill my personal and professional aspirations? Did a thorough training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis lead to the realization of my cherished ideals?


Just ask any therapist who has been around for a while, and they'll tell you that the level of mental health in the world has sunk to an unprecedented low. There has likewise been a steady decline in the overall mental health of people seeking psychotherapy. Today, there are disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that we didn’t even have names for years ago. The internet alone is driving multitudes of people into unspeakably bizarre forms of insanity that no one could have anticipated.


My own personal psychoanalysis, although helpful in certain ways, had failed to bring me the deep spiritual joy that I was seeking from life. A lot of the psychoanalytic theory that my therapy was based on had been quite brilliant, in many respects, but it simply didn't have the power to heal my Jewish soul. As time went on, I realized that not only had it not helped very much, in many ways, it had actually been quite harmful to me.


What an earth-shaking revelation for a psychotherapist to have! In the wake of that tremendous clarity, I gave away my collected works of Freud, and practically my entire professional library. An esteemed colleague of my mine politely asked me if I was having a mid-life crisis; I was, in some ways, but it wasn’t the type of crisis that he was familiar with, that leads to psychopathology, mental deterioration and an overwhelming urge to buy a motorcycle and a leather jacket.


Instead, it was an existential crisis that forced me to re-examine my life, and to start living and thinking in a very different way, with G-d in the picture. Shrinks are sorely limited; many of us try to hide that fact, or deny it, or explain it away. But when we see a client suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, or an eating disorder, the more honest ones amongst us will admit that there's really nothing we can do to permanently cure these plagues.


We can prescribe medicine for our patients, and sometimes calm them for a while, but we don't really know who they are and what they’ve gone through. We can't see into the spiritual roots of our patient’s dilemma, to see what's really going on, and how to help them.


Once I realized that psychotherapy couldn't help me, or anyone else I knew, to fundamentally and permanently solve their problems, or live a happier, more fulfilled life, a large part of me was ready to throw in the towel, and turn my back on psychotherapy once and for all.


Why bother being a psychotherapist, since everything comes from G-d, and there is nothing that I, a limited human, can do to really help my clients anyway? Then I remembered that great holy sages like the Chozeh of Lublin (The Seer from Lublin), the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, and the Baba Sali were able to cure the physically and mentally ill without even once opening a medical textbook.


These holy sages had eyes like spiritual MRI machines; they could look into a person’s eyes and in seconds see the story of their soul as it passed through a chain of previous lifetimes. They could see way back to the root cause of a person’s illness and rectify it there, at its source. A spiritual solution, indeed. Was there any way that I could combine the spiritual knowledge, wisdom and healing insight of these Jewish spiritual giants, with my own knowledge and experience of how the human brain works, from a psychotherapy perspective?


It was a good question. I thought about it for a long time, before I realized why I needed to continue trying to help people, albeit in a completely different way from before. People in psychological pain are stuck: they desperately need G-d, but most of them have been unable to find Him.


I realized that many people still needed someone - an emuna therapist - to bring the psychological and the spiritual worlds together for them and jump-start their healing process.


Nowhere in the many psychology books that I’ve read has the road to happiness been so clearly described as in the books of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Rabbi Arush understands the psychological challenges and spiritual potential of our generation better than any contemporary Rabbi that I know of. Rabbi Lazer Brody suggested that I develop a method of helping people based on the work of Rabbi Arush and call it Emuna Coaching. Rabbi Arush also encouraged me and gave me his approval to write a book, The Ultimate You, and to develop a new method of helping people based on his work.


Emuna Coaching emphasizes the positive aspects of problems and symptoms. It sees “the problem” as evidence that something is “waking up” in the life of the person, couple, family, business or community. Most secular coaching programs teach people how to “cope” with problems. Certified Emuna Coaches view problems as the only possible means though which people can reach their full potential for happiness and achievement.



* * * 

Would you like to be a certified Emuna Coach? Contact Rabbi Aharon Dubinsky at staff@breslev.co.il 

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