Religious & Spiritual Guidance
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Religious & Spiritual Guidance
Can anyone recommend a therapist/conselor who works
with intermarried couples? My spouse and I are not actually
intermarried -- we're both Jewish -- but we observe at very
different levels, and that directly affects our lifestyle and the
way we raise children. We'd like to work with someone who
can respect our individual religious values and help us
manage those differences in day-to-day life. Thank you for
any recommendations or advice you can offer.
While he isn't a therapist by trade, I would highly recommend
Rabbi Burt Jacobson, the founder of Kehilla Synangogue. He
guided my husband and I (I'm jewish and he's not) through
inspiring and refreshing pre-marriage counseling sessions. We
both found him to be incredibly helpful, a good listener; and we
felt much closer as a result of meeting with him. His insight
and wisdom is profound. He does meet with individuals and
couples for various forms of counseling and guidance.
I'm what I laughingly call an ''adult survivor'' of a Pentecostal
upbringing. But, honestly, I need a counselor who is familiar
with the Assemblies of God (or similar charismatic
evangelical Protestant) subculture to figure out ways back to
a more moderate religious or spiritual life. My husband is a
non-practicing Jew, and we would both like to agree on
ways to incorporate religion or spirituality into weekly life
with our toddler. The counselor could be anyone from clergy
to psycotherapist. Any suggestions?
Sarah in Oakland
I believe you will find many good counseling resources around here
because of Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, a group of
theological schools in which there are many counseling
professionals with expertise in theology/church life. I was a
student at Pacific School of Religion, and two professors come to
mind as people you might call: Archie Smith (who teaches at
Pacific School of Religion) and Rosemary Chinicci (not sure I
spelled that right; she used to teach at the Franciscan School,
but now I think she's on the faculty at Starr King, the Unitarian
School.) In particular, I have seen Rosemary address surviving
fundamentalism in one class I was in, and she did it with humor
and kindness. I took classes with both and would feel comfortable
doing therapy with either. You could contact them by calling
their schools. If they are not taking on new clients, I am
certain that they would have good referrals for you.
While psychological therapy might be useful for the emotional
issues related to your childhood religious experiences, you seem
to be looking for someone to help you find your way to a more
moderate spiritual life. I suggest you look for a spiritual
director, who is someone who can help you find different
perspectives on religion and guide your spiritual journey.
There are a few places where you can start your search. Try the
Lloyd Center, 258-6652; Durant House, 848-7024; or any church
that you feel comfortable calling. If these groups don't do
spiritual advising on-site, they should be able to refer you to
someone who does this. Good luck.
Marlene Winell has written an excellent book called ''Leaving the
Fold: a guide for fundamentalists and others leaving their
religion.'' which is one of the few self-help resources on this
issue. She's a psychologist and does individual and group
counselling. You can reach her at (831) 479-0139. She also has a
site at www.marlenewinell.com
We are looking for a marriage counselor who specializes in
interfaith marriages. Also, are there support groups out there or
good books' We need help coping with the strains of having two
different faiths in our marriage. We'd greatly appreciate any
I don't know what the religious mix in your marriage is, but for
marriages in which one partner is Jewish here's what I know.
The best book out there is:
Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial,
Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships. Joel Crohn, PhD
Excellent book with exercises couples can do to explore their
own cultural and familial styles and assumptions.
As for support etc. in the east bay:
Jewish Family and Children's Services - offices in Berkeley and
Walnut Creek in Berkeley ask for Cathy Diamond, 510-7475 x225
and in Walnut Creek ask for Carla Haimowitz, 925-927-2000. If
you are having marital issues you probably want to start with a
therapist as they can help with communication style and such.
Joel Crohn, author of the above book is in private practice here
in the east bay with an office in Kensington. He is truly
expert at interfaith therapy. He can be reached at 510-524-1707.
Building Jewish Bridges: Outreach to Interfaith Couples -- out
of the Jewish Federation (Oakland office, but for both Alameda
and Contra Costa counties) offers workshops and couples groups.
The groups are not therapy, rather they are about clarifying
values and deciding how to handle holidays, in-laws and kids.
(510) 839-2900 x347
Individual synagogues have programs aimed at integrating and
supporting interfaith couples as well as teaching about Jewish
tradition. But I'm guessing that is not what you're looking
Finally, what about going to clergy that represent each of your
faiths? They will be invested in helping you, supporting your
marriage and easing the pain you are suffering.
Good luck, just know that you are not alone.
You may want to check out the Unitarian Universalist ministers
and congregations in the area. Many interfaith couples are
married by UU ministers and attend UU congregations because
there is a lot of celebration of diverse beliefs.
this page was last updated: Jun 15, 2006
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