Thursday, January 24, 2008
Oil and Water--Legal System and Mental Health System
It has become apparent that the legal system and the mental health system don't exactly mix. At times they can work together well, but most times it is water and oil mixing together. Most of the attorneys and even some of the judges do not have a full understanding of the purpose of the mental health system--specifically psychological evaluations. We provide parenting and psychological evaluations for the court systems. They are in depth and comprehensive. the results of the evaluations are difficult for others not trained in it and can be misinterpreted. That can cause problems in the court system. I would recommend that attorneys have training in human development and psychological testing as it would be a positive service to clients.
Another aspect of the legal system and the mental health system is even simpler...cover your own butt. Even if you're providing services for another agency, care for yourself. Remember that no other attorneys other than your own can provide legal advice or representation. Representing yourself in legal matters can get harry, especially when you have not had legal training. Trust your own judgment, though. If you feel that you should not get involved in a legal case, then don't. It has been my experience that there are attorneys that will do what is necessary (no matter how dirty, dishonest, or immoral) to defend their client. Do not expect an attorney to understand the goings on in a therapy session, the techniques used, the modalities followed, etc. Many of them might not want to understand. If you find yourself on the stand in a court room, be confident and sure of yourself and your therapeutic judgment and process. You are trained to do this work. This is what you are. Be the therapist in the office and on the stand. Also, continue your studies to ameliorate your therapeutic position. Do not be surprised that your modalities will change as time goes on. Be open to various forms of therapy and not just on Western thought-based modalities. I've found that to be extremely helpful with my therapeutic repertoire.
Enough for now.