Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Unusual therapy for spouse abuse (excerpt)

OUTSIDE THE BOX by Dr. Baruch Shulem

One of the saddest unintended findings of this book is that “psychotherapy” is not the answer for abusive men. It is, on occasion, but only ‘on occasion’ the answer. We believe any ‘real expert’ in the treatment of abuse will have a wide variety of possible solutions for the highly complex problems found within the single name “abuse”. We have identified a wide variety of interventions that can be called ‘remedial’. They start with a simple verbal warning and move to more intense intrusive interventions of psychotherapy, chemical castration, electronic oversight, professional supervision, using the courts, community prevention programs, changing professions of the abuser, police, and even imprisonment.

We call this flexible approach ‘thinking outside the box’. Unfortunately ‘inside the box’ has been almost solely rabbinic supervision or psychotherapy. Being confronted by both the complexity of the problem of abuse and its depressing rate of recidivism it is apparent that alternative methods must be identified, implemented and evaluated as to their effectiveness.

In my own limited way I have tried to use this book to step ‘outside the box’ of my professional training which can be summarized as “you are (only) a psychotherapist”. I would like to present another attempt on my part at ‘stepping out’: a rather unusual therapy case – in which we only talked, but I did not use the standard operating procedure generally associated with talk therapy. This is a version of an article I wrote and published in Tales of Solutions: A Collection of Hope-Inspiring Stories, editors: Insoo Kim Berg and Yvonne Dolan, W.W. Norton, N.Y., 2001


A woman in her late fifties came to see me about getting help for herself. She put three pre-conditions down as the basis of our working together. These conditions are frequently encountered in the Chareidi world. The first was that I would not notify anyone of what was happening to her; Second, we would not discuss divorce as an option; Thirdly, I would not involve her husband in the therapy. I said I would be willing to start but would be free at any time to withdraw from our work if I thought it was inappropriate for me to continue because of these conditions. That was my condition.

She told a story of being abused from her wedding night on, both physically and emotionally. She said that she was young and inexperienced [continued in the Abuse Book]


  1. Now THAT's a teaser!

  2. here we go again with poor women who get abused by animal men and no women ever abuse their husbands?


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.