Hibabrut.com contributor Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, LMFT, has just released a new book called Think Good and It Will Be Good: Spiritually-Based Therapy Inspired by Viktor Frankl and Jewish Wisdom, and is aiming to enhance the way depression and anxiety are treated. Inspired by the writings of Viktor Frankl and Torah sources, the book highlights his correspondence between Viktor and Jewish leaders, the instruction of the Tzemach Tzedek “Tracht gut vet zein gut” (“Think good and it will be good”) and Rabbi Schonbuch’s practical techniques of helping people with depression, anxiety and OCD. Through the stories of three people who suffer with mental illness, Think Good And It Will Be Good shows how they recovered by using these techniques in the book.
“I have been treating people with depression, anxiety, and OCD for years and I started seeing that modern psychology is only partially helpful”, says Schonbuch. “What is needed, and what I describe in the book, is a new psychology that I call ‘Torah Psychology’ that utilizes the most advanced techniques in psychotherapy (i.e. CBT, EMDR etc.) and is also guided by key principles in Jewish thought and the writings of Viktor Frankl.”
According to Rabbi Schonbuch, positive thinking can actually change a person’s life. “In the book I examine scientific research that uncovers all the emotional and physiological benefits of optimism. One study done at the Mayo clinic shows that positive thinking can increase a person’s lifespan, lower rates of depression, reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease and that for every point of increased optimism, risk of early death decreased by 19 percent. These are remarkable findings that our rabbis already knew hundreds of years ago,” says Rabbi Schonbuch.
After having organized two conferences and training over 300 hundred psychologists in the psychology of Viktor Frankl and Logotherapy, Rabbi Schonbuch’s book focuses on the findings of speakers who treat depression by using spiritual means. These findings and his extensive research culminated in a six-step approach to overcoming mental illness. In Think Good And It Will Be Good: Spiritually-Based Therapy Inspired by Viktor Frankl and Jewish Wisdom readers are offered key strategies they can use to immediately change their patterns of thinking including: Creating Space, Going Above and Thinking Good. These strategies used together help a person overcome their emotional struggles by strengthening the power of their will, watching their thoughts, meditating on the concepts of faith and trust, and increasing their positivity ratio.
According to Daniel Schonbuch, “Torah-based sources can be powerful tools for overcoming anxiety. For example, at one of the conferences Dr. David Rosmarin a professor of psychology at Harvard, presented his research on treating anxiety by studying Chovos Halvovos (Duties of the Heart). I already knew that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had instructed people suffering with anxiety to read a chapter called “The Gate of Trust”. I decided to incorporate it into the book by providing readers with a new translation of “The Gate of Trust” and by showing readers how to use it by reading daily portions. I believe that people could extend the gains made in therapy by thinking about G-d, faith and trust more often. This also offers an alternative to polytheistic mindfulness strategies that have become accepted in the world of psychology”.
In Think Good And It Will Be Good: Spiritually-Based Therapy Inspired by Viktor Frankl and Jewish Wisdom, Schonbuch translated a letter of the Tzemach Tzedek on how to overcome anxiety. According to Schonbuch, “I was familiar with the famous story about the Tzemach Tzedek: When a father that came to him to save his sick son’s life, the Rebbe responded “Trach gut vet zein gut”- Think good and it will be good. When the father started to “think good” his son got better. However, in the book, I also translated one of the Tzemach Tzedek’s lesser-known letters where he outlines a sophisticated psychological and spiritual system to treat anxiety. I was amazed at how a century before modern psychology began, the techniques of the Tzemach Tzedek outlined how to distract from anxiety and focus on positive thoughts. I also shared with readers how positive thoughts can actually change reality and how people suffering from anxiety can benefit from this approach.”
Rabbi Schonbuch also explores some of the people using Hitbonenut (Jewish meditation) to overcome depression, stress, and anxiety by focusing on the concept that the world is constantly being created. According to Schonbuch, “Rabbi Adam Stein who works at Stony Brook University is teaching Mind Based Stress Management and his teachings help his students improve their quality of life. He actually guides college students on how to use Kabbalistic and meditative concepts to reduce the psychological and physiological impact of stress and anxiety. This just confirms my belief that when used in the context of therapy, the Torah provides therapeutic tools that psychologists don’t commonly use, even when their clients would like to explore spirituality in their lives.
Applying Viktor Frankl’s psychology to finding meaning in suffering is also discussed in the book. Schonbuch shows how he studies Frankl’s writings together with his clients to find relief. According to Frankl, if a person has found a “why” for their suffering they can overcome any “how”. “A therapist can’t tell someone ‘why’ they are suffering. However, they can open a therapeutic discussion based on Frankl’s writings to explore the possible reasons of suffering and how they can change their attitude towards it,” says Schonbuch. “I have even seen cases where people were suffering for years despite therapy without being helped. In several instances I suggested they read Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” and in a few sessions I saw their depression relieved”.
Rabbi Schonbuch’s book is available on Amazon or at www.ItWillBeGood.com