We recently talked about how to find the right career coach. Vivia Chen, over on the Careerist, suggests that having an on-site career coach may be the next big thing in law firm perks. But some lawyers benefit from a different kind of coaching – the kind that helps them manage depression. Dan Lukasik, who combines his legal background and his personal experience with depression to help lawyers struggling with this issue, has some perspective on this. He writes:
“There is an epidemic number of lawyers in this country who are unhappy with their jobs or, worse yet, are suffering from clinical depression. One survey by the American Bar Association found that as many as fifty-five percent of the attorneys now practicing are dissatisfied. Studies have concluded that approximately twenty percent of this nation’s 1.2 million lawyers are afflicted with depression. Seven in ten lawyers responding to a California Lawyers magazine poll said they would change careers if the opportunity arose.
Many of these lawyers are what I call “depression veterans”. Their jobs are a major cause of their depression. They feel stuck. They go to a counselor and/or take medication, but it’s not enough to get them unstuck; to help them explore different career avenues either in or out of the law.
Some of this problem comes down to the fact that they don’t see their counselor often enough. For many, at best, it’s once a week or a mere four times per month. For those who also see a psychiatrist for antidepressant medication, it may even be less – perhaps once a month.
I feel that lawyers who struggle with unhappiness and depression need more than that – much more. They need a positive and affirming structured relationship in which to get their lives back together. Having helped and dealt with hundreds of unhappy lawyers from across the country, I felt a calling to become a coach to them. I felt uniquely qualified because I have been a lawyer for the past twenty five years and suffered from depression for the past ten. I know a lot about lawyer and a lot about depression.
Coaching isn’t the same as therapy. It’s a relationship where I work with the depressed lawyer, come up with a set of positive goals to move them towards a better life at home and work and hold them accountable to meet those goals in an encouraging and positive way. It is a great adjunct to those already in therapy and/or those on medication. It provides yet another support system for those who need as much positive support in their lives as possible as they seek to recover and build a healthier life.”
If you or someone you know might benefit from working with Dan, please visit website at www.lawyerswithdepression.com for more information about his services.
Readers, how do you decide what kind of coaching you need? Have you ever suspected that you might be clinically depressed rather than just unhappy? Is it possible to make sound career choices while you’re suffering from depression?