A new ruling by leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis requires that male mental health therapists treat only men, and female therapists treat only women, the Maariv newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The edict, which has yet to be made public, aims to prevent the development of romantic relationships due to the intimate nature of therapy sessions. Emotional attachment is a sin even without a physical relationship, one rabbinic signatory to the decree wrote, and therefore psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health specialists should treat only members of their own sex.
If an exception to this ruling is needed, it should be sought from a rabbi and a senior doctor, the ruling said.
Maariv reported that the new restrictions originated at the psychiatric center of the ultra-Orthodox Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak.
Putting the new conditions into practice will be difficult. Health Ministry figures show that 73 percent of psychologists are women.
Kadima MK Rachel Adotto, chair of the Knesset Health Lobby, criticized the proclamation. “There is no such thing in the law as saying you only want to be checked by a man,” she said.
In contrast, the bureau of ultra-Orthodox Deputy Health Minister Yaacov Litzman told Maariv that “it is important to respect any position that is intended to benefit the patient and to prevent any damage to his quality of life.”