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FLA offers facilitated group meetings across the state

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FLA offers facilitated group meetings across the state

Group therapy is a well-respected treatment for a broad range of mental-health challenges

One of the most popular and well-utilized offerings of Florida Lawyers Assistance (FLA), is its facilitated group meetings. The groups are held weekly in seven locations across the state and are guided by licensed mental-health providers.

Dr. Scott Weinstein FLA’s clinical director, Dr. Scott Weinstein, conducts three of these groups each week in Broward County and oversees the other groups held in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Vero Beach, Jacksonville and Gainesville. Group therapy is a well-respected modality for treatment for a broad range of mental-health challenges whereby individuals sharing some common concerns can effectively overcome their difficulties through peer support and effective guidance by the group clinician.

The first of these groups was started in 1998 to provide group support for lawyers, law students, and judges who did not fit in with the existing recovery support groups offered by FLA. The initial group was held in Ft. Lauderdale and facilitated by a psychologist who had worked extensively with lawyers in various capacities. He welcomed this challenge and, as word traveled, the group outgrew his office space. Another group was formed soon after, facilitated by a medical doctor, and it was, likewise, well-received.

“Unfortunately, both of these doctors experienced health problems that prevented them from continuing this work, but by that time, FLA was able to hire Weinstein as clinical director,” said FLA Executive Director Judy Rushlow. “Dr. Weinstein is an essential part of the FLA staff as he works closely with many lawyers and law students who are challenged with depression, anxiety, and similar conditions, some of whom may be struggling with co-existing substance/alcohol use issues.”

In his role as clinical director, he maintains regular contact with FLA’s network of approved therapists across the state to address the needs of these clients. He is also a valuable resource for Rushlow and Molly Paris, FLA’s assistant director, both recovering attorneys who work with and counsel attorneys whose primary issues are related to substance abuse or practice problems.

A number of lawyers are required to participate as part of their monitoring agreements with The Florida Bar, while many others attend voluntarily. Rushlow said these groups “have become a dependable source of nurturing and healing in the face of increasing stress placed upon the legal community.”

Attendees report that prior to joining the group meetings, they often felt isolated and unsure of where to turn to for support, Rushlow said. Most would say these weekly meetings have helped bring about positive change in their lives and consider the groups as an essential part of their self-care.

An ongoing goal of Dr. Weinstein’s and FLA’s is to organize more of these groups in other areas of the state. Weinstein carefully screens all prospective therapists to determine whether they are qualified to work with this unique population.

Voluntary participation is entirely confidential.

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