an experienced and dedicated attorney and mental health professional practicing Individual, Family and Marriage Therapy & Counseling in Boca Raton.
Eric is a member of the Standing Committee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers
It's Ok To Ask
As a Lawyer,
Eric "Gets" It
Safe Setting To
ERIC EPSTEIN, ESQ., M.S., B.S. // Masters Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy
Lawyers are often viewed by family, friends and society as strong, powerful, indestructible, and wholly self-reliant. However, reality is often quite the opposite.
As a practicing attorney for almost 25 years, I know all-too-well the emotional, physical and mental toll and impact that our legal profession takes on us. I, too, have lived under that image and pressure. Regardless if we practice in the private or public sectors, or are attorneys, judges, paralegals or mediators, it is quite common to hear colleagues express thoughts such as : "I love the law, but hate being a lawyer" or "the pressure to win or become partner is overwhelming."
We tend to live with a a self-maintained stigma that we can't ask for help since we are the ones who are trained to help others. Many studies show that professional men and women suffer greatly from a variety of mental health issues and substance-abuse.
Beginning as a 1L, lawyer's are trained and taught to "win," "fight aggressively," "be methodical and detail-oriented," and "not let emotions get in the way of our client's best interests." Most of all, we tend to focus on the needs of our clients - to the exclusion and minimization of our own needs.
How Are Attorneys Affected By Mental Health Issues?
It would seem logical that men and women who have successfully completed college and then graduate school earning a Juris Doctor degree would be immune from the pressure of their chosen career. Research reveals a very different conclusion.
In the January 2018 Bar Journal, Michael J. Higer wrote an article about the mental health and wellness of attorneys. He cited to a recent Florida Bar Membership Survey which found "... 33 percent of Florida lawyers reported high stress as a major problem; 32 percent reported that balancing work and family was a significant challenge; and seven out of 10 said they would change careers if they could."
Similarly, a 2016 study done by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that out of 13,000 lawyers surveyed, between 20.6 and 36.4 percent could be considered problem drinkers. The study also found that 28 percent of those surveyed suffered from depression, and 19 percent had anxiety.
In my professional career as an attorney, I often felt caught between the focus on "winning" and my desire to feel "satisfied" in my career. Medical professionals focus on healing their patients as well as comforting them. Emotions are a big part of their career and daily routine. In contrast, lawyers and the overall legal profession tend to avoid dealing with or focusing on emotions. Instead we put our emphasis on logic and technical legal arguments. While these may make us great or effective lawyers, it does not allow for us to feel and process emotions. It also does not give us permission and an opportunity to cope with the impact our profession has upon ourselves and our families.
Lawyers Can't Be Superheroes All The Time!
At some point in all of our careers, the "pursuit" stops becoming a goal and starts to feel more like a weight holding us down. During our work-days, we may obsessively research to find that obscure case to support our legal theories. We may work endless hours to keep us on partnership track, or to maintain our current partnership status. We may hear from our clients: "wow, amazing job. you're incredible." Our colleagues may say: "we heard you got a verdict in your client's favor on that "no-win" case!"
Attorneys are often viewed by others as "super-heroes." We save our clients millions of dollars, or win life-changing settlements for innocent victims. We may not literally use our strength to physically fight our opponents, but we passionately pursue justice daily using our bodies most important part: our brain.
But, even superheroes get weak and have vulnerabilities.
And, even superheroes need help sometimes.
Why Do Lawyers Avoid Asking For Help?
One of the biggest challenges for professionals receiving the mental health help that they need is their reluctance to ask for help. Sometimes, it's the fear that acknowledging any mental health issues may negatively impact their good-standing status with the Bar. Similarly, those that work for law-firms, corporations or organizations, might be afraid to let their bosses, partners, or upper management know that they may need help for fear of appearing "weak," "unsuccessful" or a "drain" on the firm or organization. It's very common and makes sense in context for a lawyer to withhold their mental health issue when they have already worked so hard to make partner or complete their partnership track.
How Can Eric Help You ?
As an Attorney practicing law for over 2 decades, I inherently know the challenges, pressure and impact that being a professional can have on one's mental health. By combining that background and experience with being a Mental Health Professional with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I understand the impact your mental health has not only on you, but on your entire family system.
Working with a mental health professional who understands your lifestyle, your pressures, and your "world" without explanation is invaluable. Regardless of the extent of your concerns, I work with professionals like you in a non-judgmental and collaborative manner to help you manage, reduce or eliminate these issues and problems from impacting your daily professional and personal life.
I encourage my potential clients to always ask themselves the following questions:
If you answer YES to the last question, then I am here to help you in a safe, private and non-judgmental setting.
I’d love to talk with you and explain how I can help you deal with and overcome these issues and challenges.
You may also fill out the form below and Eric will contact you shortly.
Copyright 2019, Discovering Destinies, Inc.
Eric is a Florida Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern License #IMT2966
Eric is a Florida Licensed Attorney Bar Number: 87237