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Lashon Hara and psychological treatment


Prominent arbiters have ruled that a child or grown up may “bad mouth”, criticize, express anger in therapy sessions towards their parents and others and the therapist may facilitate and encourage such behavior because there is a “toelet”, benefit from these actions- “refuat hanefesh”, However, the patient is not aware of this and criticizes and expresses his negative feelings because he harbors much anger and resentment towards them.. Therefore he is committing a transgression and is in need of “kapara”. This can be compared to a situation where a person entered a store that serves kosher and non-kosher meat and ordered a non-kosher sandwich and by mistake was served a kosher sandwich. Or a wife not observing her oath and was not aware that her husband nullified the oath.

Question: Should a religious psychotherapist be obligated at the beginning of psychological treatment to inform the patient that it is halachically permissible to “bad-mouth”, criticize and express angry feelings towards parents and others in the meetings because there is a “toelet” ? If this is valid, shouldn’t this point be mentioned in the Rabbis’s rulings regarding issues related to honoring parents and psychological treatment?.

Best wishes,


You are bringing up a valid point. I spoke to an expert in these halachos, and he brought up the point that on the practical level, it isn’t going to make that much of a difference. This is since it isn’t correct to just give a blanket heter to say whatever one wants because it is a therapy session, and whatever is said has to be within the guidelines of what is halachically considered l’toeles. Therefore the therapist in any case has to know the halachos, and automatically the issue of toeles will come up. And if the therapist doesn’t know the halachos, then they will in all probability speaking lashon hora in any case.

 However when it is applicable, you point is very true.

Best Wishes

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  1. Question- Is saying -טוב ברופאים גהינום, Psychologists and psychiatrists steal a lot of money from the patient and let him imagine that he will be healed.” (Tshuvot VeHanhagot, 1:465, Rabbi Moses Sternbuch) considered lashom hara/ motzi shem ra and prohibited or since it is said about professional groups and not specfic people, it is not a transgression?

    1. All it is doing is saying that there are things to be wary about, and it doesn’t mean that it everyone in that field is that way. Shmuel, the Rambam and Ramban were doctors. We also find the mishan at the end of Kiddushin that there are cetain trades that most of the tradesmen are thieves etc. It isn’t meant anyone specific, rather it is informing us of the tendency or majority of the people in that trade.

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