Here's the article:
And the 2 reasons stated there are:
- The client's own ratzon to do the work necessary to improve.
- The therapist making halacha & effective techniques a priority.
And the third?
The therapist must LIKE the client.
To Be Effective, One Must Learn to be Honest with Oneself
Liking someone includes empathy too.
You can know a behavior is wrong while also empathizing with the reason for that person's behavior.
And a responsible should do his or her best to know when they cannot help someone.
For example, when I showed admiration to a therapist for offering 1st-time appointments for free, she stated she did it for herself as much as the new client.
That way, she explained, she felt free to reject the client if she saw it wouldn't work.
A lot of times, you can tell in 10 minutes or less whether you like someone. An experienced person can tell in 10 minutes or less whether they can work with someone, whether the potential exists.
In the above-mentioned post, the therapist genuinely liked the girl she helped.
In fact, the therapist specialized in teenage girls and genuinely liked them.
This counts as a PRIME factor in helping another person improve.
When Mentoring/Advising/Counseling Goes Wrong
For example, I knew a rebbetzin with incredible energy who did tremendous much-needed chessed of all types.
Throughout her life, she made meaningful and continuous contributions to Torah life.
However, she didn't appreciate introverted people.
She didn't hate them, but she did not appreciate them, and this prevented her from really liking them.
Because of this, her advice with introverted types tended to go like a coin-flip.
Sometimes she offered suitable advice to them, sometimes not.
And when unsuitable, her advice sometimes turned out badly wrong.
In fact, she even discouraged shidduchim between introverts, offering different reasons why it wouldn't work.
The reasons usually sounded either offensive or just not so logical (because they emanated from emotion, and not reason).
I personally know of 2 shidduchim she actively discouraged at first, but the 2 couples got married anyway.
One marriage worked out really well because they are excellent people who are obviously perfect for each other.
The other marriage turned out less happy because the wife lacks good middot (while the husband possesses excellent middot), but this rebbetzin did not discourage the shidduch because of that. In fact, this rebbetzin thought the young woman's middot were just fine (except for the young woman's introversion, of course).
In another situation, she several times berated an introverted girl suffering serious doubts about a shidduch until the girl lost confidence in her own perceptions & went through with the marriage, which the girl later always regretted (though the couple never got divorced).
When dealing with introverts, the rebbetzin's manner of giving the advice sometimes suddenly turned harsh or abrasive.
The sudden harsh or angry tone came as shock because she normally seemed so cheerful and smiley.
This sudden about-face resulted from her impatience when dealing with an introvert, who often wants to think through things before acting, or who thinks more deeply and with more complexity about issues, and needs to work through that before making a decision.
A lot of people want to understand WHY they need to do something before they do it.
And yes, it's weird when people like this rebbetzin end up working with baalei teshuvah and gerim because they whole reason WHY the people did teshuvah is BECAUSE they think this way!
Yes, there's a downside in overthinking things.
But there's an upside too. It always depends on how it's done.
This rebbetzin is very smart & exceptionally competent doer rather than a thinker.
And that's fine. Some doers appreciate thinkers and vice-versa.
In other words, some people appreciate differences.
But this one did not.
So even though she willingly made herself available as a consultant-rebbetzin to others, she simply proved herself unable to offer suitable advice to personalities she does not really like or appreciate.
And we're all like that.
The key is to making yourself LIKE the person turning to you. (Easier said than done, but often possible when one cares enough & is aware enough.)
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned rebbetzin lacked the ability to do that because she convinced herself she was a real ohev Yisrael, that she loved everybody.
She honestly believed this about herself. (And she genuinely did a lot of good.)
So she never realized she didn't actually love a significant part of the frum population (introverts).
Instead, she believed her impatience or anger or discrimination came from the other person's exceptionally difficult nature...which was sometimes true, of course.
But often, it wasn't.
This explains why people go to a rabbi, rebbetzin, advisor, etc., who others label as "SO AMAZING!!!" and "helped SO MANY people with this exact problem!" and so on...but then receive obviously unsuitable advice or get treated badly or dismissively.
It could be they ARE amazing...but not with you.
It could be they ARE extremely helpful...but not to you.
And all that could mean there is something wrong with you...or it could mean there's something wrong with them.
Or it could mean they simply aren't the right shaliach for you in a particular situation.
A Mentoring Success Story
We hit it off from the first time we met (at a class she gave in my neighborhood).
She also genuinely liked young women, young mothers.
She felt genuine sympathy for our issues, while also seeing our flaws and our potential.
Not all middle-aged women feel this way.
Some feel envious toward young mothers because they remember those years as easier than their lives now.
Or it's generational; they see your generation as spoiled and they resent it.
But she wasn't like that at all. She was really empathetic, yet practical.
Because you always felt she stood squarely on your side, it was much easier to take her advice, even the hard-to-follow advice.
Her unswerving & affectionate loyalty to your best interests was the honey that made the bitter pill of breaking middot easier to swallow.
Interestingly, she felt genuine affection toward the more introverted, introspective, emotionally complicated women that most others (understandably) find so exasperating to deal with.
Even more interestingly, she wasn't like that at all herself!
She was a particularly fearless & proactive doer and rescuer.
(And a real handful as a child; these types usually are.)
In fact, her lack of fear led her into dangerous situations at times (because fear helps us take proper precautions)...situations in which her fearlessness & quick thinking helped her to find a way out of these situations.
(I still remember when an attempted kidnapping ended in her driving off in the potential abductor's car, leaving him in the dirt while she sped off to the police station. And she was totally blasé about it later.)
She never engaged in the kind of complex-bordering-on-neurotic thought processes that some of us do.
Yet she held great affection for those completely different than her.
Somehow, she was able to understand & appreciate those whose brains were wired so differently than hers.
Another way she differed from me and many others she helped is that she grew up in a very solid Chassidish family who survived the Holocaust with their Yiddishkeit firmly (and miraculously, IMO) intact.
And they weren't regular Chassidim either, but Chassidim with yichus & importance.
Yet somehow, she managed to understand & identify with people from secular or even non-Jewish backgrounds.
And she provided tremendous help & guidance. At times, she mamash saved lives, both in the emotional sense and literally.
Without even meaning to, she stood as a wonderful role model.
She saw people as basically good & capable, but sometimes just in need of hand up.
(This is a VERY different & much healthier—and Torah-based—view of people, as opposed to many who view people as according to their flaws or dysfunctional behaviors, and who often generalize negatively, saying stuff like, "Most people are this-and-such-negative-trait...")
She also saw herself as a mere shaliach, acknowledging she wasn't the right shaliach for everyone, which is a very important (and Torah-true) approach to adopt when dealing with others.
That approach removes a lot of ego, which interferes in genuinely helping others.
Not only did I merit her mentoring myself, but sent a lot of people to her over the years until she could no longer do it.
I think the combination of her innate personality & an upbringing based on AUTHENTIC chassidish & Torah principles facilitated her to turn out this way.
Outgrowing a Mentor, an Advisor's Error, and Unpredictable Acts of God
It's very common to outgrow a therapist/mentor/rabbi/rebbetzin, etc.
You won't outgrow a gadol or a rebbetzin on the level of Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky, of course.
But others? Yes.
For example, secular Jews who started out thinking their college campus rabbi or the modern Orthodox rabbi of their local shul were the tops later outgrew these people as their spiritual needs matured.
You can & should be grateful for what they gave you at the start.
But it's fine to outgrow them. This is not much spoken about, but it IS normal.
Sometimes a therapist or mentor gave you what you needed at the beginning, but simply lacked what you needed to grow even more, due to their own blind spots or deficiencies.
Again, it's good to be grateful & appreciative while going on to bigger and better things.
On the other hand, sometimes the mentoring relationship stops working due to the one being mentored or counseled.
That person either refuses to grow at all or to grow beyond a certain point.
Sometimes, the counselor/therapist/rabbi/rebbetzin/advisor/mentor/friend honestly believed they could help, then realized only part way through their error.
(The person turning to them for help often experiences this error as a painful rejection, but it is an honest mistake. Hopefully, the advisor eases out as nicely as possible—meaning, without trashing the person.)
Other times, the advisor experiences a life-changing event or struggle (death of a loved one, a natural disaster, a financial upheaval, divorce, injury, trauma, burnout, etc) that prevents them from being able to give what they normally could.
These are legitimate difficulties, and though painful & upsetting for the client, it's not anyone's fault and the limitations (including termination) should be respected.
It's nearly always Hashem's way of guiding the person to a better shaliach (including turning to Hashem alone) along their individual path.
3 Factors Necessary for Effective Therapy/Counseling/Mentoring
In order for any kind of therapy, counseling, advice, etc., to be genuinely effective (NOT just a "feel-good" effect, but actual improvement), the following 3 factors must exist:
- The client's own ratzon to do the work necessary to improve.
- The therapist making halacha & Torah-oriented approaches a priority.
- The therapist must like the client.