Dr. Miller’s writing and work has been featured in various articles and news sources.

JUF News

Nefesh Chicago supports Orthodox
mental health professionals
heal hearts and minds

Illness does not discriminate, and that includes mental illness. Still, treating illnesses includes treating different patients in ways they can accept.

For more than 20 years, Nefesh Chicago has served Orthodox Jewish mental health workers, and therapists serving Jewish clients, with professional support and training, networking, peer consultation, resource development, and community education. Nefesh also educates the public on personal, family, and community mental health issues.

“Orthodox Jewish mental health professionals trust Nefesh Chicago to deliver leading-edge clinical training relevant to the work they do in the community,” said Dr. Paul Cantz, Psy.D and vice president of Nefesh Chicago’s board. “Non-Nefesh Chicago members have also benefited from these trainings, since they promote the cultural knowledge and sensitivities required to treat Orthodox clientele.” A clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cantz is also a supervising psychologist with Hartgrove Hospital’s inpatient unit.

Nefesh tailors its professional training to the needs of Orthodox Jewish mental health professionals, and others who face such issues in their line of work. The organization’s members are Torah-observant psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, counselors, nurses, clergy, and others in the mental health field. Through Nefesh, they network, collaborate, and learn, addressing issues based on widely accepted mental health principles, within the framework of Torah and halacha(Jewish law).

“Nefesh provides education to clinicians, educators, rabbis, and rebbetzins (rabbis’ wives), and community members, and connects the mental health needs of Chicagoland with the resources of professionals worldwide,” said Nefesh Chicago board member Dr. Malka Miller, Clinical Psychologist at Barnes & Klatt and Yehi Ohr-Jewish Institute for Psychological Advancement .

Read the full article by Paul Wieder here.

Hamodia Magazine

Nefesh Chicago Features Talk on Family Relationships

This June, Nefesh Chicago, invited Dr. Mona DeKoven Fishbane, PhD. to speak about “Healing Intergenerational Wounds: A Relational-Neuro biological Approach to Transform Family Relationships.”  Recently named 2017 Family Psychologist of the Year by The American Psychological Association, Dr. Fishbane presented a topic deeply relevant to everyone, yet perplexing to most.

In describing the relationship between innate biological tendencies and family interactions, Dr. Fishbane discussed ways of creating lasting change.

With an impressive command of the most recent neurobiology research, she shared key insights about the extraordinary influence our habits exert on our biological chemistry.  Her cutting edge presentation provided the hopeful view that family members can actually break free of seemingly locked and damaging patterns.

Referring to her new book, Loving with the Brain in Mind: Neurobiology & Couple Therapy, Dr. Fishbane shared that while “we are shaped by nature (genetics), we are amplified by how we are treated.”  Through her scholarly yet easy going manner, Dr. Fishbane imparted key insights and offered tools therapists can employ to help others overcome problematic dynamics of longstanding.

Participants said the presentation was so resonant that Nefesh Chicago is considering a similar presentation for the community later this year.

Each year, Nefesh Chicago crafts a variety of professional seminars aimed at mental health practitioners seeking continuing education.  Summarizing Dr. Malka Miller, “Nefesh Chicago bridges local mental health needs with the resources of professionals worldwide, providing educational opportunities at every level.”

This accessible seminar approach offers local mental health practitioners a segue for developing personal connections with renowned presenters in a manner impossible to achieve through the long distance and online learning. In contrast, Nefesh encourages networking, broadening of scope, and skill enhancement within clinicians’ fields of endeavor with only a nominal charge for continuing education credits.

According to Dr. Rachelle Gold, “Nefesh offers outstanding academic exposure in an intimate setting, speaks to a wider Jewish audience, and regularly surpasses expectations”.  In addition, the organization expends considerable resources providing community education related to safety and mental health to many levels of the community including teens, educators, rabbis, rebbetzins, and parents.  Nefesh Chicago is expanding professional and personal horizons and enhancing community awareness of the robust Jewish counseling resources available to the wider Chicagoland area.

Written by Naomi Ben-Attar Yablong, LCSW and Malka Miller, PsyD

Walder Education

Promoting Emotional Resiliency

Dr. Paul Cantz, Adler University; UIC College of Medicine; Yehi Ohr
Dr. Malka Miller, Yehi Ohr

What is resiliency? It is a process to harness resources to sustain well-being. Children have a great deal of stress in their lives. When those stresses stay bottled up, they make their presence known in the children’s behavior. As educators, there are important ways in which you can give supportive action to build the self-esteem that children need towards being resilient.

  • Build confidence by focusing on students’ improvements, noticing contributions, building on their strengths, showing your faith in them and acknowledging difficult tasks.
  • Focus on past successes and build on them.
  • Make learning tangible through differentiation. Adapt lessons to reach each child’s way of learning. Use a multi-sensory approach. Give them the tools they need to succeed in learning.
  • Recognize achievements , employing a variety of ways to reward and reinforce students’ work and accomplishments.
Remember the five A’s that provide support to students:
  1. Acceptance: show acceptance of each student and their individual learning style and background
  2. Attention: make sure to take time for each student, greeting them in the morning, listening to them, be attuned to their feelings; asking students about themselves
  3. Appreciation: express appreciation, both orally and in writing,  for desired behaviors and achievements, being specific about what they did well, focusing on the present
    • Use a three-part appreciation statement
      • The student’s action
      • How you feel about the action
      • The positive effect of the action
  4. Affirmation: Affirmation statements encourage students to believe in their known desirable traits and to be aware of hidden traits. When positive traits are recognized, students feel good, not only about themselves, but also about you because you took the time to notice and comment.
  5. Affection: What comes from the heart enters the heart.
Four Goals that Motivate Student Misbehavior
  1. Attention Seeking Behavior; both active, disrupting class and passive, not engaging in classroom tasks
    • Prevention:
      • Give lots of attention to appropriate behavior
      • Teach students proper ways of directly asking for attention
  2. Power Seeking Behavior; temper tantrums and quiet noncompliance
    • Prevention:
      • Avoid and defuse direct confrontations
      • Grant students legitimate power – leadership roles
  3. Revenge Seeking Behavior; direct and indirect physical attacks, psychological attacks – verbal and physical, withdrawal behavior meant to hurt or frustrate
    • Prevention:
      • Build caring relationships despite their actions
      • Teach students proper ways to express their hurt and hostility
      • Invite them to talk
  4. Avoidance of Failure Behavior; frustration tantrums, procrastination, written work handed in late or not at all, physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach cramps, nausea
    • Prevention:
      • Encourage students to change their self-perception from “I can’t to “I can”.
      • Help students end their social isolation by drawing them into congenial relationships
      • Encourage students’ contributions in class
      • Encourage students to help other students

© 2016 Walder Education

Read the article here.