‘The real opposite of love is not hate, but indifference‘Pirkei Avot, 5:19
A couple of years ago I was asked to teach a similar version of LDPRT to a particular faith group. The differences were that the course had to be culturally and faith specific. As someone who is often ‘up for a challenge’ I grasped this nettle. There were certain rules and mores which I had no choice other than to subscribe to.
One was that men and women could not work together, for example in small group work this was prohibited. I am reminded of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, where the central themes are ones of repentance and atonement, it allows for a great deal of reflection and follows the Jewish New Year. One of the prayers during this time says: ‘who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched…’. All of these aspects are contained within couples’ therapy but within this particular faith group the thread of these prayers was alive within the couple’s work.
Teaching a faith group was, for me, a delightful experience. It was full of generosity, humour and not to say food! The bravery of those who signed up, the willingness to be challenged was wonderful. We were a fairly small group, just 12 people, two Rabbis – one who came as a couple and the interrelatedness of the group was both supportive and at times inspiring.
I had to manage my own expectations alongside theirs, I was, from time to time called on what was permissible and what was not. This is, and was an example of what diversity really means, where the ‘teacher’ has to adapt and comply with the tenets of the faith group rather than tow the line of any lead body. So, the faith group and their leaders alongside the lead body and their rules sometimes made for an uneasy alliance. However, as a classic Jewish saying goes; ‘Who acts from love is greater than who acts from fear’ was truly pertinent in this case.
This of course raises issues for all of us who work with difference and how we remain to be of and in service to our clients. The respectful place that we as psychosexual and relationship psychotherapists need to inhabit whilst also upholding our capacity for curiosity and challenge. Sometimes our clients are our greatest teachers.
I remain grateful that I was given this opportunity and the students who completed the course will remain with me forever. They, without knowing it, enriched my teaching and therapeutic life.
Founder & Course Director LDPRT