Therapy For Lawyers
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Therapy For Lawyers

Lawyers frequently deal with extreme pressure, severe deadlines, and demanding clients in the high-stakes legal industry. Although they might succeed in the courtroom in their careers, they may also encounter difficult mental health issues.


This article examines the state of lawyers’ mental health, warning indications of mental illness, the effectiveness of therapy for legal practitioners, and the surprising data on drug usage in the legal field.



Table Of Contents

Mental Health Challenges Lawyers Face

Signs That Lawyers Are Struggling Mentally

Does Therapy Help Lawyers?

Statistics On Lawyers And Substance Abuse

Should I Work With A Therapist?

The Bottom Line





Mental Health Challenges Lawyers Face


Stress is nothing new to lawyers, as the legal field is known for being extremely demanding. The stress of having to perform well, fulfill deadlines, and continuously produce excellent work can be detrimental to their mental health. The particular mental health issues that lawyers experience are exacerbated by long hours, demanding work conditions, and the weight of ethical duties.



Elevated stress levels can also be attributed to the adversarial nature of the court system. Burnout, anxiety, and even depression can result from defending clients all the time, handling complicated issues, and dealing with the emotional toll of courtroom proceedings (Johnston, 2023; Lukasik, 2022).



Lawyers frequently find themselves serving as both a counselor and an advocate. It’s a fine line to walk when it comes to juggling the emotional demands of clients while maintaining a professional distance. Lawyers who are constantly exposed to their clients’ hardships and emotional burdens may develop empathy fatigue, which leaves them emotionally depleted and prone to compassion fatigue.





Signs That Lawyers Are Struggling Mentally


Legal professionals should be aware of the warning signals of mental health issues in order to support fellow lawyers and themselves. Increased irritation, altered sleep habits, trouble focusing, and a reduction in the caliber of work are typical warning signs. Physical symptoms like headaches, exhaustion, and gastrointestinal problems can also affect lawyers.



Isolation is yet another concern. Since lawyers frequently operate in fiercely competitive settings, it may be interpreted as a show of weakness to admit fragility or ask for assistance. This dread of being judged or facing consequences in the workplace can cause social disengagement, which exacerbates mental health problems (LawCare, 2021).



In the legal profession, substance usage is equally a concern. Lawyers may turn to coping strategies like drug or alcohol abuse to help them deal with the pressures and strain of their demanding profession (Ogbonnaya et al., 2022).



Photo By Pavel Danilyuk


Does Therapy Help Lawyers?


Therapy has shown to be an effective strategy for individuals overcoming the particular difficulties associated with practicing law. The legal system does not always offer a framework for lawyers to treat their own mental health needs, despite the fact that it is intended to resolve conflicts and administer justice.



Legal professionals have particular pressures and expectations, which are recognized by therapists who specialize in treating them. In a private, accepting environment, they may help lawyers explore their emotions, create healthy coping mechanisms, and acquire insightful knowledge about stress management.



Lawyers who need assistance identifying and resolving particular concerns with stress at work, interpersonal relationships, or general well-being should consider individual therapy. A sense of community can also be fostered by group therapy or support groups designed especially for legal professionals. This enables them to exchange experiences and gain knowledge from one another.






Statistics On Lawyers And Substance Abuse


The well-documented problem of substance misuse within the legal profession highlights the necessity for comprehensive mental health support. A 2016 survey by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs found that approximately 21% of individuals in the legal profession—including lawyers—are problem drinkers. When the participants in the study were asked more in-depth questions, the percentage increased dramatically and showed that more than 36% of lawyers struggle with problems associated with alcohol misuse (Krill et al., 2016).



Prescription drug misuse is on the rise, which is alarming for the legal profession because these drugs are easily accessible and lawful. Prescriptions with a doctor’s letter can be easily obtained, unlike illegal alternatives. Although prescription drug abuse is not as common as alcohol addiction, it nevertheless affects 9% of attorneys.



This usage is frequently the result of lawyers trying to work longer hours by staying up late or using drugs that induce sleep to relieve stress. Those who mix prescription medicines and alcohol pose the greatest risks to themselves because doing so increases the likelihood of dependence and may result in overdose (American Addiction Center, 2024).



The legal profession, the clients they represent, and the individual lawyer are all impacted by substance misuse. Substance abuse-related impairments in judgment and decision-making have the potential to undermine the integrity of legal procedures and endanger the welfare of individuals seeking legal counsel.





Should I Work With A Therapist?


Working with a therapist is a personal decision, but for lawyers who are struggling with mental health issues, it may be a very empowering and transforming move. Rather than indicating weakness, going to therapy shows a person is committed to their personal health and their capacity to give their best work.



Through the development of strong coping skills and resilience in the face of hardship, lawyers can examine their thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment through therapy. Lawyers can better understand themselves, recognize stressors, and discover effective strategies for handling and reducing these difficulties by attending frequent sessions.



Therapy additionally offers lawyers useful strategies for preserving a positive work-life balance and raising their general standard of living. By encouraging a culture of resilience and well-being, effective mental health practices can benefit not only the individual lawyer but also the legal profession as a whole.





The Bottom Line


The mental health difficulties that lawyers experience in the hard practice of law should not be undervalued. Fostering a healthier legal community requires admitting the alarming statistics on substance abuse, appreciating the benefits of therapy, and recognizing the indicators of distress. Selecting therapy is a strong and proactive move for lawyers who want to prioritize their mental health while navigating the challenges of their line of work.


Legal practitioners can improve their professional performance, develop resilience, and contribute to a more vibrant and helpful legal community by tackling mental health issues head-on. Let us not overlook the significance of protecting the mental health and well-being of those who struggle ceaselessly to defend justice in the pursuit of justice.









American Addiction Center. (2024, February 7). Addiction & Substance Abuse in Lawyers: Statistics to Know. American Addiction Centers.


Johnston, A. (2023, March 1). Mental Health and Well-Being Challenges in Law Firms | Practical Law The Journal | Reuters. Reuters.


Krill, P. R., Johnson, R., & Albert, L. (2016). The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 10(1), 46–52.


LawCare. (2021). Life In The Law 2020/21.


Lukasik, D. T. (2022, June 1). Prioritizing Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace is Evolving and Driving Change in the Legal Profession.


Ogbonnaya, U. C., Thiese, M. S., & Allen, J. (2022). Burnout and Engagement’s Relationship to Drug Abuse in Lawyers and Law Professionals. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 64(7), 621–627.











Written By: Dr. Wasif MD

Edited by: Madison Vargas, BS

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 03/25/2024


Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Written and reviewed by

Madison Vargas

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