Very old olive tree with twisted trunk growing in nature with bright blue sky. Tree is close up and full image is in focus

Jewish Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy in Israel

The research on Psychotherapy that integrates Jewish Spiritually in Israel is conducted by Prof. Ofra Mayseless from the University of Haifa and Dr. Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro from Zefat Academic College. This study is part of a wide international research project involving dozens of research teams around the world. The aim of the international project is to expand and deepen the research foundation and knowledge of the integration between psychotherapy and spirituality. The international research and the Israeli research are supported by the John Templeton Foundation and the participation and direction of Brigham Young University, located in Utah, USA.

The Israeli Research Project – Jewish Spirituality Integrated Psychotherapy in Israel

The principal investigators of the Israeli research project are Prof. Ofra Mayseless from the University of Haifa and Dr. Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro from Zefat Academic College. The coordinator of the project is Ms. Liat Zucker.
The Israeli research team is one of approximately twenty research teams around the world participating in this innovative and wide-ranging international research project.
This is a groundbreaking project, both in the international context and in the Israeli context. For the first time Jewish spirituality integrated psychotherapy methods are being studied in order to understand how they are carried out, what mental states they deal with, what actually happens during such treatment, what kind of psychological and spiritual interventions are implemented, how helpful they are to patients, what are the similarities and differences between different therapeutic approaches, and more. As part of the study clinicians and clients report on each session, clients on their concerns, insights and changes that they have undergone, and clinicians on the interventions they have performed. In addition, clinicians are interviewed about their therapeutic approaches and methods, what the integration between Judaism and psychotherapy looks like, and the way in which they incorporate spirituality into therapy.

International collaborative Research Project – Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy

For most of the 20th century, mainstream healthcare professionals have ignored the role of spirituality in therapeutic healing. Recently this has changed as scholars and practitioners have started to discuss and apply a variety of spiritual treatment approaches, grounded in the healing practices of both Western and Eastern spiritual traditions (e.g., prayer, meditation, gratitude, love, forgiveness, altruistic service). Although research has started to examine these approaches, there is still paucity in our research-based knowledge on them. Without a larger and more thorough research base, spiritual approaches will remain at the fringes of the mental health and medical fields, which will deprive many people of access to sensitive and effective services.

The Consortium for Spiritually Centered Psychology and Education, which resides in the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has initiated a research project, Enhancing Practice-Based Evidence for Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapies: An Interdisciplinary Big Data Project, supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation. This research initiative is dedicated to creating an international interdisciplinary collaborative network of researchers and practitioners to contribute to research and practice concerned with spiritually integrated psychotherapy.

The project is a “practice as usual” study of spiritually integrated psychotherapy with 21 different collaborating research teams in North America, Israel, and several additional countries. Each of the researchers, and their research teams, collaborate with Professor Richards by using an Internet-based “Bridges Assessment System” to contribute to a “big data” set. This is the largest study of spiritually integrated psychotherapies ever conducted.




The research team


Prof. Ofra Mayseless is a clinical psychologist and a professor of developmental psychology in the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa, Israel.  She has served as dean of that faculty and as head of the National Pedagogical Secretariat in the Ministry of Education. She has published over 100 publications dealing with attachment and caregiving processes throughout the life span and in different roles and situations, and has also investigated the search for life’s meaning and purpose and spiritual development. She is a co-founder of the annual Israeli conference on the Study of Contemporary Spirituality. Her book “The Caring Motivation: An Integrated Theory” has recently been published by Oxford University Press. She is a co-principal investigator of the project

Dr. Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro  is a co- principal investigator of the project. She is a culture and religion researcher who deals with contemporary spirituality whilst focusing on its convergence with Jewish tradition as well as various establishments and trends. She has founded academic study programs of spirituality in Israel and co-founded the annual Israeli Conference for the Study of Contemporary Spirituality, an international conference held since 2009.

Liat Zucker is the coordinator of the project. She is an art therapist (M.A) and a doctoral student in the Department of Counseling and Human Development at the University of Haifa. Her master’s thesis dealt with the Conscious Thinking method (“Yemima”), as does the doctoral thesis she is currently writing. “Yemima” is a spiritual teaching that has been studied in Israel in recent decades by several tens of thousands of learners. In her therapeutic work and in her research, Liat connects the concepts underlying Yemima’s teachings with therapeutic understandings regarding internal processes of change and growth..

Contact Ms. Liat Zucker regarding the research project


Other members of the escort committee



Dr. Rabbi Michael Binyamin Aboulafia  is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. In 2016 he founded the “Lev El Lev” [Heart to Heart] school network, where he teaches and trains professional therapists in his “Integrative Jewish Psychotherapy” method. Aboulafia is also an Orthodox rabbi and a spiritual leader, as well as a lecturer.

Gabriel Strenger, is a senior clinical psychologist with a private practice in Jerusalem,
who also works as a lecturer on psychotherapy and Judaism in Magid School of Psychotherapy (Hebrew University). A Jewish meditation teacher and lecturer on Hassidism
and Jewish spirituality in Israel, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. As a referent at
the “Stuttgart Foundation for inter-religious Dialogue” he teaches and participates
regularly in inter-religious encounters in Germany. Over the last 30 years he has
appeared as a cantor in communities in Synagogues in Israel and Europe and has
participated in musical events of various kinds.

We will be happy to get back to you soon

Please fill out the form and we will get back to you shortly