Original Paper

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 498-506

First online:

Religion, Ethnicity, and Attitudes Toward Psychotherapy

  • Elizabeth MidlarskyAffiliated withDepartment of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University Email author 
  • , Steven PirutinskyAffiliated withDepartment of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • , Florette CohenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The College of Staten Island, CUNY

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Many presume that White culture supports psychotherapy utilization. However, cultural analyses suggest that many aspects of White culture are antithetical to the values and practices underlying psychotherapy, which appear more congruent with Ashkenazic Jewish attitudes and values. The current research empirically tested this possibility by comparing older Jewish White people, non-Jewish Whites, and Black participants on attitudes relevant to psychotherapy. Results indicated that Jews had greater confidence in a therapist’s ability to help, were more tolerant of stigma, and more open to sharing their feelings and concerns than participants in the other groups. Furthermore, initial differences between Whites and African Americans were lessened when Jewish identity was included in the analysis. Results suggest that Jewish culture is relatively accepting of psychotherapy, and that previous reports of different rates of mental health seeking attitudes and utilization by Whites and Blacks may be due, in part, to the inclusion of Jewish individuals in these samples.


Mental health Help-seeking Religion Ethnicity Psychotherapy Counseling