Drawing a busy and challenging 2021 to a close, Nachas Ruach – The British Association of Orthodox Jewish Mental Health Professionals – recently held their Annual General Meeting and Keynote Lecture in the presence of over 40 mental health professionals joining online from UK, Israel and the US.

Nachas Ruach was established over 30 years ago as an association for frum clinicians to meet, network and share latest developments in the mental health field, often with a focus on their application to the Jewish community. Members include counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers, psychiatrists, family therapists and expressive therapists – with professional accreditation as well as those in training – all striving to combine their professional roles with their personal commitment to charedi life.

This year’s Keynote Address was given by Rabbi Dovid Cohen shlit”a, the highly respected Rov of Kehillas Gvul Yaavetz in Brooklyn, and Mora d’Asra of Nefesh International. He answered a wide variety of questions ranging from dealing with negative emotions in therapy to the role of the frum clinician facing their client’s choices that conflict with religious values. He also addressed the Jewish approach to dealing with national tragedies, and attitudes towards abusive relationships. Feedback from the participants was extremely positive, praising Reb Dovid’s insight, experience and broad vision, so vital when dealing with mental health challenges.

Other speakers this year have included Dr Rael Strous, Director of the Psychiatry Department at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center on “Piety and Pathology: how to distinguish between mental illness and spirituality”, Clinical Psychologist and Rov of Barnet Shul, Rabbi Dr Samuel Landau, on “Mindfulness, Meditation and Spirituality” and noted psychiatrist Dr Lipa Sireling on “Covid and Psychosis – a critical look at the evidence for and against Covid causing psychosis”. Nachas Ruach members also heard presentations from Dr Shoshannah Frydman, Executive Director of Shalom Task Force, USA on “What every Therapist should know about Domestic Violence”, Dr Jona Lewin, Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, with an Overview of Psychotropic Medications and Nachas Ruach founder and psychotherapist Mrs Regina Sliw sharing a clinical case discussion on “Trauma, Dissociation and Re-enactment.”

Member of Nachas Ruach’s Management Committee, Mr Jonathan Rabson, a Family & Systemic Psychotherapist said: “This last year has been so challenging for us all both personally and professionally, with a significant increase in anxiety, stress and mental health issues for our clients.

We were really pleased to maintain our monthly training sessions for our members, providing a sense of grounding and connection, and offering exciting professional development and peer support during the pandemic.”

Nachas Ruach invites qualified therapists or those in training to become members and benefit from the learning opportunities and networking with like-minded professionals. For more details about joining Nachas Ruach and forthcoming events, email secretary@nachasruach.com.