Referring Your Family Law Clients to Counseling
This is a question I get from lawyers, as well as from other people. The common thought seems to be that the divorce is already in progress, so why bother? Because mental health problems in one or both spouses are a common cause of divorce. After the divorce is finished, those mental health problems will still exist unless they are treated. Likewise, divorce can also be the cause of mental health problems. Depression, anxiety, anger, substance abuse, and many, many other problems can result from the stress of divorce. Divorce and other life-changing events can also trigger latent mental health problems. If you think a client has a mental health problem, wouldn’t you be serving your client by recommending a counselor?
On that subject, in the course of your family law practice, how often do you end up in the counselor’s role? How often do you have to talk your clients down, be their shoulder to cry on, or listen to hour upon hour of their life story? While that may be an annoyance to you, it’s my bread and butter. It’s what I do. When there are only so many hours in the day, I can take the counseling part of your job off your hands so you can work on the legal stuff.
Ever had a client do something to screw up their case? Send their spouse a nasty text at 3:00 am? Withhold timesharing? Violate a DV injunction? Do you have clients who can’t control the urge to lash out at their soon-to-be ex-spouses? I coach your clients and give them techniques to put things into perspective and stop themselves from making their situation worse.
Let’s also take a look at your client’s financial situation. How much is your client paying you to listen to their story? Lawyers are expensive, and rightly so. However, a counselor’s hourly rate is only a fraction of yours, so you could save your client a lot of money and yourself a lot of time and aggravation by sending that client to me.
In short, a mental health problem can be both the cause and the result of divorce. If you have a client who is upset or distressed at their circumstances, send them to me. Sending your client to counseling can make your case easier and will definitely make the client’s life better. Isn’t helping people improve their lives what we do?