• The attitudes of Orthodox Jewish rabbis towards professional mental health services as related to their practice of referrals

      Slanger, Hannah Rachel; Goldmeier, John (1994)
      The purpose of this study is to assess the attitudes of American Orthodox Jewish religious leaders (rabbis) toward therapy and the mental health professions, and to determine the degree to which rabbis urge the utilization of these professionals by their congregants, via referrals. Specifically, this study evaluated demographic, attitudinal, situational, and experiential variables that would account for differences in rabbis' willingness to refer congregants. The first group of research questions dealt with potential demographic antecedents (age, birthplace, secular education) of positive attitudes toward the mental health professions and therapeutic interventions. The second dealt with situational influences, such as size and affluence of a rabbi's congregation. The third dealt with experiences which would familiarize the rabbi with mental health professionals, such as professional and personal interactions. Finally, each of these groups of variables, together with attitudes, were examined as possible predictors of referral behavior. Orthodox rabbis' preference for Orthodox mental health professionals was also a focus. Data were obtained through a questionnaire mailed to the 439 members of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) employed as congregational rabbis. Responses were received from 217 rabbis (49%). Statistical procedures utilized included frequencies, means, Pearson product moment correlation, partial correlation, and multiple regression. Primary results demonstrated that the experiences of interaction with mental health professionals were strong predictors of positive attitudes toward mental health interventions, while demographic and situational differences had little influence. Regarding referral practices, however, there were numerous significant predictors. Generally, younger rabbis with mental health related educational experience were more likely to refer their congregants, as were the rabbis of larger, more affluent congregations. In addition, rabbis with positive attitudes and those who had more interactions with professionals were more likely to refer congregants. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that the combined set of predictors accounted for substantial variance in referral practices, and that the experiential variables provided the greatest contribution. Results also showed that Orthodox rabbis prefer Orthodox mental health service providers. Limitations of the study, implications for social work practice, and recommendations for future research are presented. The study is of interest to social work practitioners whose potential clientele are members of ethnic and/or religious minorities, and who wish to achieve rapprochement with communal leaders, so as to provide for optimal access to their services.