Dr. Rachel Rokach, PhD.
Senior Clinical Psychologist
Psychotherapy with adults and
adolescents in Israel since 1983
Hebrew and English
Adress: 3 YISHAI ST., JERUSALEM
● The clinic is accessible to the physically handicapped.
● I work with the following medical insurance plans: Bikurufe, Elite, Harel-Shiloah, and Matan-Meitar, and with Kupat Holim Klalit.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
I don’t want to answer that for you. You are a unique individual, your strengths and needs and goals and timing and intensity are different from other people’s, and you deserve a therapy that is as long and as short as you want it to be. Deciding “when’s enough” will be a joint project within the therapy—like everything else.
WHY DON’T PSYCHOLOGISTS EVER GIVE YOU A STRAIGHT ANSWER ? (SEE YOUR OWN ANSWER, ABOVE.)
Because there is nothing I can know about you ahead of time, without our discovering and understanding it together. You cannot be found anywhere in a textbook or in my past experience, and everything we “decide” or “figure out” has to be uniquely and specifically you.
WILL THERAPY MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ?
In the long run, yes. In the short run, not necessarily. Again it’s a very individual issue. Some people get a lot of support from the therapeutic relationship from the outset, and it connects them up to their own inner resources, and they start feeling better right away. Most get a lot of relief from talking about things unguardedly, from not having to hold back for a change. Others find the therapy situation embarrassing or belittling, and need to work past that in order to enjoy the working alliance. Virtually everyone who continues in therapy in spite of the difficulty begins to feel stronger, more competent, more worthwhile, and better protected. Is that “feeling better”? I think so.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “THE DIFFICULTY”?
We all have issues, past experiences, or traits that we’re ashamed of and hate to think about. Many of them are pretty trivial, but for ourselves they’re painful. Over the years we’ve wrapped them up in several layers of wrapping paper, and we avoid touching them because they weaken our self-esteem, which is the number one ingredient in feeling good. Those wrapped up, out-of-sight bits act make trouble for us. We constantly have to invest energy to keep them out of our minds. Which causes us to distort things that are happening in order to avoid becoming conscious of them. And they’re sneakily undermining our self-esteem even so.
So an important part of therapy is to bring these bits out into the light, understand better how they came about and how they are not our fault, and stop being ashamed of them. As we learn to be tolerant and understanding of ourselves, our self-esteem revives, so we have more creative energy and more positive energy in our relationships.
BUT I DON’T WANT TO MEET UP WITH THE UGLY PARTS OF MYSELF.
Actually, contrary to what people think, therapy isn’t primarily about meeting up with the ugly parts. I’ve seen far more people who are being messed up by their lack of appreciation for their good traits than their “bad” ones. Connecting solidly to your strengths and inner goodness is the core of psychotherapy. It’s called empowerment, and it’s what I aim for as a therapist.
I’M A MAN. I DOUBT YOU CAN REALLY UNDERSTAND ME.
In fact a lot of men prefer a woman therapist (and others prefer a man). A therapist doesn’t need to have gone through the same experiences as you in order to help you. Nor does she need to be an Expert on the particular issue that’s giving you trouble. Our expertise lies in guiding and supporting each person in discovering the unique subjective meaning of their experiences, good and bad. Knowing how others have gone through a similar issue is good background material, but it’s not enough. The real therapy is yours—there’s never been one exactly like it, you and I have to create it as we go along.
IS IT TRUE THAT PEOPLE BECOME DEPENDENT ON THEIR THERAPISTS?
Not really. Dependency is a major issue in everyone’s life—whether they’re the “dependent” or the “independent” type, the issue is always around. So it’s going to come up in therapy. The responsible therapist brings it into the light, where it can be seen, thought about, and worked with. In my experience, every client has reached the time when he said, “Hey, I think I’m about finished now.”
WHY ARE THERAPISTS SO OBSESSED WITH THE PAST?
This one’s complex. On the one hand, we are the sum total of our physical and genetic characteristics plus the thousands of experiences we have had. That’s what makes a person. So if I as a therapist want to get to know you, and help you know yourself in a more useful way, we need to wander through your inner library of experiences to see what’s there. Good experiences are no less important than “bad” ones. (Never forget that!)
On the other hand, most of us have disconnected from some of our unpleasant experiences, and as I said they sit there in the corner making things difficult for us. If you’re coming for therapy, you’re coming because you feel there are things inside you that are giving you trouble. We need to see how they got there, how they developed over time, and what resources you have to overcome them.
I HAD A NORMAL CHILDHOOD AND DECENT PARENTS, THAT’S NOT WHERE MY PROBLEMS COME FROM.
I want to make it very clear that delving into the past does not mean “finding the guilty party.” It’s true that that attitude was part of therapeutic thinking for years; there was a tendency to blame parents, especially mothers, for just about everything. I don’t see it that way, and I’m happy to say that nowadays that there are plenty of other therapists who don’t either. We need to see and understand what happened in the past, and sometimes we need to mourn over it, because lots of things happen that cause pain. Blaming doesn’t do the work.
WHAT ABOUT ONE’S BASIC NATURE?
You’re right. There are some things in our personality that we’re born with, just like a talent for music or sports. We now understand that babies are born with more or less ability to self-regulate, more or less “good-naturedness”—which remain at the foundation of their “nature” for life. Optimism, shyness, initiative, impulsivity and warmth are examples of characteristics that are partly inborn, partly shaped by our experiences with parents and others. As adults we need to look back into our early childhood to see these aspects and take them into account in understanding the way we are today. The most pertinent example is the person with “a temper”. Psychologists used to assume this was the result of experiences in childhood; we’re now aware that a lot of it is built in. It’s important to recognize this in order to see how best to work with it.