State Education Building in New York State
State Education Building in New York State iStock

Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology has announced that its Advanced Certificate in Pastoral Counseling program for rabbis in-training, done in partnership with the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), has been officially registered with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

The certificate program, one of the first of its kind to serve the Orthodox community, grew out of a joint initiative established more than six years ago by Ferkauf and RIETS.

It consists of six graduate-level foundational courses (18 credits) in mental health counseling, psychopathology, crisis intervention, loss and bereavement, and couples and families counseling, all designed for rabbinical students planning a career in the shul rabbinate or Jewish education. The credits earned through the certificate are part of the rabbinical degree and can be applied to an appropriate master’s or doctoral program.

“Our advanced certificate program strengthens the mental health counseling skills of both pulpit rabbis and communal educators by equipping them with the practical knowledge that can help them support people across a wide range of mental health issues, from crisis intervention and trauma to bereavement and family therapy,” said Dr. Leslie Halpern, dean of Ferkauf.

According to Rabbi Neal Turk, the program’s founder and director, the NYSED registration takes the pioneering curriculum to another level by “recognizing that our program meets the quality standards and rigorous requirements of graduate-level training in New York State, honing the students’ ability to address the mental health challenges faced by the people in their care and guide them to the best resources available.”

“We are delighted that this program is receiving the recognition it deserves. It is producing rabbinic professionals at a level never seen before and the community will certainly benefit for many years to come,” noted Rabbi Marc Penner, dean of RIETS.

Although enrollment is currently limited to existing RIETS students, plans are in the works to open the program to students and graduates from other schools.