Why LCL wants clients to come in for an evaluation

Issue October 2005

Q:I called Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers for a counseling referral to someone on my insurance list, and the person I spoke with pressed me to come in person for an evaluation at LCL. Why couldn't she just give me a name? You are non-profit, aren't you?

A:Yes, LCL is non-profit (funded by a small portion of your bar dues) and our clinicians are salaried. Your visit here carries no fee, and we gain no financial benefit from it.

If all you wanted was a clinician's name, you could simply go to your HMO's Web site. We seek to make good matches between client and therapist. That requires a more thorough assessment, which is more difficult to do by phone. The areas of distress that people emphasize in phone calls must be fleshed out with more discussion, obtaining more history, and also making observations drawing upon dimensions including body language. We do understand that you may prefer not to have to "pour your heart out" first to us and then to someone else, and for that reason we try to make our evaluations no longer or more intensive or emotional than necessary.

If, after an LCL evaluation, both we and you agree on the need for a referral, we give considerable thought to what clinician(s) may best meet your needs. When possible, we refer you to someone we know (and, for that reason, have an ongoing practice of interviewing clinicians). In this process, it is helpful for us to get a mental picture of how a particular client and therapist (or coach, etc.) would interact. The result is that we have considerable success in making referrals that achieve high client ratings (something we continually monitor through our ongoing program evaluation system). When you see us in person, we also save you the time of contacting what is often a series of clinicians in the search for someone with appropriate skills who has time for a new client, and meets your preferences for location, insurance, gender, etc. This should make up for the time that you devoted to the LCL visit. In addition, we then maintain our role as your personal consultant down the road (for example, if the therapist moves or no longer takes your insurance, or if new problems arise that call for different kinds of assistance). Finally, in order to maintain our relationship with those clinicians upon whom we rely as resources, we want to be certain that we are sending them only the most appropriate cases.

Those are the reasons that we almost always encourage callers to see us in person (or, in Western Massachusetts, to see one of our clinical affiliates there). Having served lawyers for so many years, we are aware of their time constraints, confidentiality concerns, etc., and if there is a specific rationale for your situation to be handled differently, we can be flexible. Some people, for example, are concerned about disclosing their names; in those cases, we are willing to register you here with a last name of Anonymous.

Questions quoted are either actual letters/e-mails or paraphrased and disguised concerns expressed by individuals seeking assistance from Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers.

Questions for LCL may be mailed to LCL, 31 Milk St., Suite 810, Boston MA 02109;or called in to (617) 482-9600. LCL's licensed clinicians will respond in confidence.

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