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It is forbidden to be secluded with another woman (excluding a woman that it is permitted e.g. wife, mother, grandmother etc.). This is known as yichud.

It is permitted though, provided the area is not fully secluded and e.g. the door is open / door not locked, people can come and go, and there is potential for someone to enter. Or if the woman's husband is in town.

However these allowances only apply when the relationship with the woman is not Libo Gas Bah, meaning the relationship between the man and the woman is not comfortable and intimate. See Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer (כב-ח):

אשה שבעלה בעיר אין חוששין להתייחד עמה מפני שאימת בעלה עליה ואם היה זה גס בה כגון שגדלה עמו או שהיא קרובתו או אם קינא לה בעלה עם זה לא יתייחד עמה אע״פ שבעלה בעיר:

A woman whose husband is in town - there is no concern for yichud. However, if she is "Gas Bah", i.e. you grew up with her, or she is a relative... it is forbidden to be secluded with her even if her husband is in town.

Therefore, is a male allowed to have a female therapist? Assuming the office is frequented by many people, and the door is not locked. Is the relationship between patient and therapist intimate? The reason to assume so is that the set up of the relationship between therapist and patient is one of having intimate conversations, where private details are told over and nothing is considered too taboo. Is this included within the definition of Libo Gas Bah?

Assuming it is, does it matter that the intimate conversations are one sided from patient to therapist, is that considered the definition of Libo Gas Bah, or it's only considered such when it is a mutual give and take between man and woman? Does the fact that the relationship which, although deals with the personal aspects of the patient, is really in essence a business relationship?

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    what gives you the impression she falls under that category? – Isaac Kotlicky May 28 '15 at 9:49
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    One could ask the same question (in reverse) about a rabbi: is a woman allowed to have ongoing private conversations, that can involve deeply personal topics, with her rabbi? I assume so, but is that a concession because she can't just seek out a female rabbi instead, or is it de-facto not a problem? – Monica Cellio May 28 '15 at 14:18
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    Please source your assumptions about what how to define LGB and in which cases it has halachic ramifications for Yichud, both of which are subject to controversy. (You are allowed to assume any position you want for the purpose of the question, but please be explicit about it and source it.) – Double AA May 28 '15 at 15:08
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    Therapists don't have husbands? – Shoel U'Meishiv May 28 '15 at 15:21
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    i know a frum married woman who went to a frum male therapist for marriage counseling. she had an affair with him. the whole story became very ugly. ein apotrofos l'arayos. consult with LOR – ray Jun 28 '15 at 10:50
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I think there are two separate issues here

  1. How do the halachot of yichud apply to a doctor-patient relation, specifically do the additional restrictions of Libo Gas Bah apply in this context?
  2. Is there a difference if the doctor/therapist is a man or woman?

On the first question, there is no mention of Libo Gas Bah in the context of the very long discussion of yichud in Nishmat Avraham (vol. 3 pp. 92-109). He doesn't apply LGB to a doctor-patient relation, actually writes explicitly that a doctor is afraid to lose his practice if he faults. R Shlomo Zalman Auerbach cited there explicitly allowed a doctor and patient to be alone in the case you describe (door is not locked, potential for others to enter).

On the second question of a difference between male or female doctor, Nishmat Avraham on that seif of Even Haezer (22:8) cites R Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 88:27) that adresses exactly your question. He writes

When a male patient is examined by a female physician [and her husband is not in town - cf. below], the door may not be locked from the inside. Also, even though she would lose her standing in the public eye if there was untoward behavior between them, nevertheless the Radbaz only permitted yichud because the male was busy with his professional duties and not the other way around, and even then only when other factors could be added to reach a lenient ruling.

However if the doctor's husband was in town, one may certainly permit yichud, and this would also be true if the doctor's wife was in town when the patient is a woman.

The reference to the Radbaz is where he writes that

women who work professionally in the house of a non-Jew do not transgress yichud since he requires their expertise and will not do anything to jeopardize his name. Besides, since the women are busy with their work, we need not have any suspicions.

A key difference in the laws of yichud between a man being allowed to be alone with a woman, and vice-versa, is that a man is used to go around the city and therefore his wife is worried he will discover her. While a woman typically doesn't wander around and therefore her husband doesn't have this concern. Therefore the laws of yichud are stricter for men.

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Summarizing from p. 107 of Reader for the Orthodox Jewish Psychotherapist by Seymour Hoffman:

There is a general rule that professionals are occupied with their profession. Therefore, a psychotherapist relates to his patient as merely the object of performing his professional tasks and not as an attractive woman. (The article is written from the viewpoint of a female patient & male therapist, but the rules are the same in reverse situation.) Hospitals such as Sha'rei Tzedek and Ma'ayanie Hayeshu'a employ men treating women and women treating men, based on reliance of this principle. Therefore, as long as one complies with the rules of yichud, i.e., leaving the door unlocked, and both the therapist and pateient have no sexual / attractive feelings thoughts aroused, then there is no need to have a 3rd person in the room during the session.

  • Hhmm that site never heard of Even HaEzer 22 7? Strange. – user6591 May 28 '15 at 15:48
  • Unfortunately there have been quite a few instances when psychiatrist s have taken advantage of their patients ( most often female). In instances of gynecological exams, it is now required that a female nurse be present when a male physician examines the patient. Remember that doctors and professionals are human beings and that the halachot of yehud are there for good reason. – alice fine Jun 27 '15 at 19:23
  • @alicefine You raise a valid and practical point. I'm uncertain how in view of the opinion cited in the article has changed since then. I'm not directly involved in the medical field to really know. In hospital rooms, it seems that since there is a so much public "traffic", it may preclude the concerns of yichud. Doctors' exam rooms, esp. say a long procedure such as MRI may present a different problem. Surgeries usually involve a team of people, except, perhaps, for something like colonoscopy. I don't know how many are typically present in such a procedure. – DanF Jun 30 '15 at 2:20
  • I have never heard of "There is a general rule that professionals are occupied with their profession." but I do know that there is a concept that if the Doctor fears that his/her livelihood would be affected by any misconduct than that is a heter. – eramm Jul 27 '15 at 16:56

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protected by Monica Cellio Apr 20 '18 at 12:56

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