Making Time for Therapy

Reader C has a great question about work/life balance — and keeping a standing therapy appointment without being perceived as lazy.  I can’t wait to hear the readers’ tips!  Here’s her question:

Hi! I’m a newer BigLaw associate. The stress of the job has caused my mental health to take a hit and so, I’ve started seeing a therapist with whom I have weekly evening (8 PM) appointments. In most other professions, asking to see a therapist “after hours” would easily be okay, but given the “constant availability” expectations of my firm, I think this may be difficult. Is there a way to firmly, but respectfully carve this hour out for myself once a week without being perceived as lazy?

Great question — I think this is a pretty common thing BigLaw associates go through, and kudos to you for taking care of your mental health. We’ve talked about taking time for frequent doctors’ appointments before, but I don’t think we’ve talked explicitly about making time for therapy and other standing appointments.  Here are some tips:

  • I really believe that most employers really do want you to have a work/life balance — but also to get stuff done. I’d be shocked if people give you too much push back on having the appointment. If and when it comes up with your supervisors, I  don’t even think you need to get into too many details here — just have an apologetic note in your voice when you say, “I have a standing appointment tonight at 8:00, but…”
  • Make yourself available after the appointment as needed, and let people know that.  “I’ll be back in the office at 9:30,” or “I’ll be back on email at 9:30.” Then, do it.  I know therapy sessions can sometimes be emotional, but whatever you say you’re going to do, make sure you do it.  (You may want to check out our discussion a few weeks ago about answering work email at home.)
  • Know your colleagues. If there’s one of your superiors who only starts work at 6PM, you may have to handle him or her in a different way, and be more direct, but also more persistent by reminding them regularly that you’ll be out of pocket, checking in with them as soon as you’re you’re out of the appointment, and possibly even setting up a backup (paralegal? secretary?) who can definitely be available for the whopping 90 minutes you need to yourself.
  • Finally, know the peculiarities of your work schedule. If your work requires you to frequently have a late-night deadline (i.e., if your company has a regular pouch going from NYC to DC on a nightly basis), or if you work with colleagues or clients in a different time zone who are still in full work mode when you’re leaving at 8 PM — then I would strongly consider shifting your therapy appointment to another time, like first thing in the morning. Another option that I know some readers have mentioned is having a therapist who they only see via Facetime/Skype/or on the phone — if you find such a therapist, he or she may offer even later/earlier appointments than 8 PM (or be in a different time zone entirely so the hours are later/earlier than a local therapist could offer.)

Ladies, for those of you who go to therapy or other standing appointments, how do you make time for the appointment and let your colleagues know? What kind of pushback have you come up against, and how have you dealt with it? 

Pictured.

Comments

  1. Also, if your boss/HR feels a need to know why you are unavailable, just label it as “physical therapy” – there is less judgement than if you say you are seeing a shrink.

    • I would NOT lie about what the appointments are for, but you can be non-specific. I would probably just say it is a recurring medical appointment and leave it at that. That is both true and also should be something they back off of (or should at least consult with HR before pushing further). If you lie about what it is you are setting yourself up for disaster if they make an issue of your “absences.” I would also work with your therapist to figure out some flexibilities — eg if you have a deadline at midnight the day of an appointment, rescheduling for lunchtime later in the week or a phone session would probably be less stressful than being gone for an hour or so when something needs to get done, and will still give you the outlet you need for the week.
      Best of luck, and good for you for taking care of yourself!!

    • This is a good idea, but beware – if you have a boss nosy enough to ask about your appointment they will also be nosy enough to ask about your physical therapy. I’d have a quick answer like “Oh, I have an ongoing shoulder problem from softball.” And I’d also know what local PT places there are. I had real PT and came across a boss that asked all these questions.

    • Distance Therapy is a License Issue :

      This is indeed a license issue.

      As I have posted when this comes up, the therapist and especially so if you see a Psychologist, must be in the same State as the patient. Otherwise, the Psychologist must be licensed to provide services in the PATIENT’s State.

      So the suggestion to be in different time zones puts a huge burden on the provider. They can be brought up on charges of “practicing Psychology in the patient’s state without a license.” I know that many therapists and some Psychologists do distance or Electronic therapy, but they are at risk of this legal situation.

      Please don’t put the well meaning therapist or psychologist in that situation. They may be unaware of the ever-evolving State Licensing Board requirements and new rulings.

      Since many readers are attorneys, I thought it was pertinent information for you.

  2. I have a big job decision to make and I have no idea how to make it! I’m a lawyer in DC and have been at my federal agency for 10 years. I actually posted two years ago about being bored in the job and not knowing when it was time to move on if everything–lifestyle, colleagues, management–was perfect except for the actual work.

    That said, at this very moment, I am highly engaged in my job. I was given a big policy project as a reward for a horrible litigation slog (which was also, in many ways, better than my usual work, which is pretty rote and involve little to no legal analysis).

    I interviewed with another agency several months ago and unexpectedly got an offer this week. Moving to another job is the only way I will ever get a raise…ever again, like for the remaining 20 years of my career. The new agency also seems to have really great colleagues and management; the lifestyle is slightly less good (not more work time, necessarily, but more formal, expected to eat lunch with colleagues every day whereas here I can go to the gym at lunchtime most days, much earlier mornings and I am *not* a morning person so that will be physically painful, years from a window office which actually has a huge impact on my mental health). While the work at the new agency will be more personally fulfilling on a variety of levels, it would be less “fancy” and marketable of a specialty than I have now. Not sure how significant that last point is as I have seen very few jobs in my specialty that interest me over the past several years, and have not even gotten to interview stage when I’ve sent in my resume.

    Taking a leap into the unknown is scary! I would miss my colleagues so much. And there is occasional good work at my current job, but overall maybe 15-20% of the time, and the rest is boring and unfulfilling. But I don’t have a totally clear picture that the work at the new job wouldn’t quickly become rote as well.

    This is unfocused and I don’t have a specific question, but I’d love advice from others who left a comfortable but boring and somewhat unfulfilling situation and either (1) were glad they made the change or (2) regretted it. Thanks.

    • Anonymous :

      You’re not in ERISA, are you? It’s my field and sounds like what you describe. (If it is, PLEASE give me a heads up on what agency you’re leaving so I can scout your old job ;) )

      I’m in a job very much like yours: great coworkers, great lifestyle, modest annual raises, deathly boring work. I want to leave, but just as easily could see myself chilling here for years.

      I saw this advice yesterday for something else and it really inspired me: write your own obituary. What would it say? (Alternatively, imagine yourself in your 80s.) Would you feel ok that you had spent 25 years in agency X hanging out? Or would you wish you had gone for something else?

      My grandfather recently passed away and I was with him in his final weeks. At 94 years of age, he was STILL carrying around one career regret. (Mouthed off and quit his job when he had been up for Vice President.) Heartbreaking to watch, but very informative for perspective in my own life. How do I want to feel about my career when I’m looking back on it? (My answer: get the heck out of my current employer haha.)

      • Ha, not ERISA, sorry! Interesting idea on the obituary. I’m not sure it makes much difference here (anonymous fed at agency x, then anonymous fed at agency y), but that is a good metric for other decisions.

    • Anonymous :

      I think you have to ask yourself if you are bored now, how much worse will it be in 5-10 years. I just left an 11 year government job because I knew if I stayed much longer, I would be in my fifties and it will only get harder to make a transition.

      • That is a really good point, thank you.

        • Anonymous :

          I think the obituary thing still makes sense. Do you want to be remembered for your job or for other elements of your life – she was a great mom / passionate volunteer / outstanding cook / competed at the master swimming championships… whatever your thing is. If you don’t change jobs you could think of that as an opportunity to to find fulfillment somewhere else/ Not everyone gets that from their career and there is nothing wrong with that. My university friends and I are weighing that right now…. 10 years out of school (we are all finance people).. do you want to go all in and be CFO or do you want work + (knowing that you might not be CFO of a large organization).

    • Shopping challenged :

      Don’t know if you’re still reading this, but here is my take:
      Advice I’ve heard when you can’t choose between two options is to flip a coin. Your response may reveal feelings you didn’t realize you had.
      It sounds like the job offer hits all the marks of what you were looking for. Not every job will have the minuses you mention, but every job will have some. Iow, this is what you have been looking for. If you don’t take the new job, then you should quit looking, because you don’t really want to move. If the idea of staying put long term makes your skin crawl, then go for it.

  3. Depending on your city, I totally agree with the advice to try to do a morning appointment rather than an evening — in my Philly Biglaw office, people worked more like 8:30-7, but our NYC counterparts were much more like 9:30/10- 9. An 8am appointment might be way less noticeable or worrisome!

  4. Anonymous :

    I agree you can and should carve out the time for therapy, but think about when you can schedule it to minimize the impact on your team. I worked on a case for several years where we had midnight filings almost every week and it would have impacted us much more to have an associate off-line from 7:30-9:30 pm than it would to have an associate arriving into the office at 9 or even 10 am after a morning appointment. But once you’ve scheduled it at a time you think is minimally invasive, stick to the schedule. Good for you for taking care of your mental health!

  5. VanLawyer :

    As someone who worked Big Law hours in the past (albeit at a small boutique firm) with expectations of being always “on call”, and having had stress/anxiety issues since I started practicing, my advice is that there are better ways to live. I know this is going to be unpopular advice, but getting a different (yes, lower profile) job that has more reasonable expectations of me did wonders for my mental health. Best thing I ever did. Life is too short to be that miserable.

    • +1 and amen! Life is way too short.

    • Agree. Feeling unable to have an 8PM appointment is just not acceptable (to me).

    • I’m sooooooooo glad someone finally pointed out that the expectations are not reasonable!! Thank you, VanLawyer!

    • NewJobRocks :

      I have to second this advice. If your job caused you to seek therapy, it’s costing you too much. It’s great that you’re doing it, self care is a priority. I had a job like this before, and the chronic stress and anxiety have begun to take a toll, even years after I escaped. I’m still paying for it, and I don’t even have kids (thank god, those hours and kids would be terrible for the kids.) Please reconsider what you’d like your life to be like, and please put your sanity and health first. Good luck and take care.

  6. Marshmallow :

    I’m also a junior Biglaw associate, and I think as long as you recognize when the busiest hours are, you’ll be fine to schedule something around that. My team tends to come in late in the morning (like, sometimes after 10:30 late) and often stays at the office until 11 or midnight. An 8:00PM standing appointment would be extremely inconvenient. But I have twice-weekly standing PT appointments at 8:30AM, and it’s never been an issue. I get to the office around 9:45 and am often still the first or second one here. Other teams in this same office tend to work 9:00-7:00, so an 8:00PM appointment would be totally fine.

    +1 on the suggestion to just say you have a medical appointment. It’s the truth, and nobody needs to know the details.

  7. anon for this :

    I was wondering how people get started on therapy. I feel like I should have gotten therapy years and years and years ago when I came to the US, but it is not really a thing in my culture. And I am embarassed to ask my American friends, although they seem to talk about it freely.

    As background, I am from Central Asia, so I lived through things like war, crazy regimes, my father and mother being jailed as political prisoners and dying in jail, not having basic human rights, etc etc etc. I didn’t leave until my late teens-I was fortunate my family was wealthy so I could get out and get asylum in the US.

    So BigLaw really doesn’t stress me out. I actually kind of like it. My kids don’t stress me out. Basically nothing stresses me out or makes me cry. I just don’t get angry, sad, or afraid or anything. I am actually quite happy-I think my life is great. My husband thinks therapy could be beneficial (I am jumpy at loud noises and obviously have dulled negative emotions), but I just feel like therapists wouldn’t even know how to deal with me. Or I need a specialist?

    • Do you think you need therapy? It doesn’t sound like you think you do. It sounds like maybe you think you should because of your background. Are there things you believe you stand to gain from therapy?

      And oh wow, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but with your background, if you really are ok, I’d be tempted to let sleeping dogs lie. Prying into your past is almost certain to be upsetting, possibly traumatic, and will open cans of worms that may take years to talk through. The human mind is an incredible thing – it’s evolved over millions of years to handle trauma, and yours seems to have excelled at that. I wouldn’t look that gift horse in the mouth.

    • Distance Therapy is a License Issue :

      It may be that you could benefit from some post-trauma therapy, very short-term and focused. If your DH mentions it, he may observe things that you are accustomed to experiencing or the reactions you offer may seem OK or “normal” to you. Your big city probably has a (city name) psychological association. Most certainly a State Psychology Association. They typically have searches and referral networks and you can ask for someone with expertise in trauma and/or anxiety.

      If that is a dead end, you could call a nearby VA Hospital and ask them for names of their colleagues in private practice. Most of the Psychologists at the VA have this sort of expertise.

      Clearly, I don’t think the average, general practice, run-of-the-mill Psychologist would have the expertise…
      Best wishes. I can tell you are strong! Hoping you will be even stronger :)

      • Lisa Perry :

        I agree about finding a specialist in trauma work. Google is a great resource for finding trauma therapists, as well as Psychology Today online. Many are willing to correspond via email about your situation and whether they are a good fit, accept your insurance, etc.

        Good luck!

    • Shopping challenged :

      Human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, IRC, and Doctors Without Borders all recognize the importance of therapy for people who have been in those kinds of situations, and make efforts to get help to people in areas that have been hit by violence. Your US friends likely have very different issues, so their recommendations might not work out for you, even if you did ask them. You could try contacting some of the international organization’s (especially if you are in NYC or DC) to see if they can help you find a therapist stateside.
      Good luck to you!

  8. How do you start therapy? How do you find a good therapist/psychologist, figure out what is a good fit, pay (insurance?) etc.? I’ve only gone to a couple through schools in the past and never felt overly comfortable, though the last one was better. With get, it was more of prescribing and so we talked about stuff framed with that, which I realize is silly but made me more comfortable than go to a talk therapist and just talk. Plus, from that experience and some research, I likely have depression and anxiety. But I don’t come from a background where this is even a little accepted, so I don’t get how it works.

    Any advice? I’m in MA, if that matters at all, so there are definitely options I just don’t know what to do.

    • Anonymous :

      I just started in January and had all your same questions.

      I sought recommendations from someone at church. Do you have ties in your community that might help you? If not, what about your Employee Assistance Program at work? If all else fails, go to your insurance plan and see if they cover therapy and see who’s in network and check out their websites.

      The first session will be an opportunity for both of you to feel each other out, kind of like a first date. The therapist will see if they think they can help you, and you get to see if you’re comfortable. And just like on a date, it’s perfectly ok to say it’s not a good fit.

      My insurance doesn’t cover therapy and my therapist doesn’t accept insurance. I pay $140 for each 50 minute session. It’s expensive, but I’m at a place in my life where these issues are my top priority, so I make adjustments in other areas to afford it.

      Only psychiatrists can prescribe medication, psychologists cannot. I’d urge you not to let that be a prohibiting factor for you if you click with a psychologist like I did. I have a trusting, comfortable relationship with her, and I simply go to my primary care doc for my prescription.

      I didn’t have a primary care doc at first because I’m 34 and healthy and single and haven’t seen a doctor other than a GYN since 2008, so I went to my insurance website, chose somebody off the list, and called to make the appointment. I’m in DC, and Aetna here has started a cool thing where they let urgent care centers serve as primary care. This is awesome IMO because of better hours, locations, and availability, so I was able to call on a Monday afternoon and get an appointment for Wednesday morning. The Affordable Care Act gives everybody one free physical a year, so just call up and ask for that physical, and then you can ask for drugs while you’re there. (And bonus, they’ll scan your blood and urine for anything, too.) The doctor was SO cool about giving me a prescription. I was really nervous, but I told her I was in therapy and had XYZ going on and a family history, and she called it in right away.

      Let me know if you have more questions! Hope this helps.

      • Thanks for responding! I’m actually in the process of switching doctors as well, so I can see if my new pcp (whenever I find one) has any recs or is okay with prescribing as well.

        I’m not really comfortable enough asking anyone around here, and my work doesn’t have one of those programs, as far as I know (I’ve never worked anywhere where I heard about one). Even if it did, I would worry about office gossip if it involved anyone in the office. However, your point about the community got me thinking, I wonder if a local group or school might have some.

        Unfortunately, I truly cannot afford this without insurance – relatively new lawyer, student loans, just about done getting emergency funds back after medical issues, etc. Thanks for explaining psychiatrist versus psychologist – very helpful!

        Did you basically just call them up and then meet with different ones until one clicked? Part of my concern is that one I saw briefly in college made me feel so much worse about myself, I really don’t want to spend any time with one like that again.

        Also, I wish my insurance let me use an urgent care! They won’t even let me list an NP.

        • Forgot to say – thanks a lot for your response, it’s very helpful!

        • Anonymous :

          This might be too late for you to see, but if you’re near Boston try getting a referral from Lawyers Helping Lawyers. It’s a great organization. I called them when I was considering marriage counseling and didn’t know where to start.

        • Anonymous :

          Check out local universities. Like in NYC, I’ve heard NYU has a low cost program where psych grad students do the counseling. Massachusetts has great healthcare, doesn’t it? Maybe there’s a program of some sort?

          So here’s my confession. I went to school later, so I’m a junior attorney, too, with a giant pile of loans and nothing close to a biglaw salary. I am barely making it financially. I would get crucified here for saying this, but I put my loans in forbearance to afford therapy. I’m not saying it’s right for you, but this is what I felt needed to do in my life. I can always make more money, but my issues needed to be dealt with NOW.

          I got two names from church and looked them up. One had a website that didn’t click with me at all. The other didn’t have a website, and hardly any web presence at all for that matter, but what I found resonated with me. I called her and we had a 10 minute phone chat about my issues and she said she thought she could help, would I like to come in from a 90 minute intro session for $225. Obviously from a 10 minute phone call, you have an idea if someone is at least pleasant. During the intro session, we did a few minutes of administrative policies and spent the rest of the time talking about my issues and my background. I had been building up to seeking therapy for 2.5 years, so I had had time to identify the 3 areas of concern I had in my life. I talked through them and she listened and asked some questions and suggested approaches we might be able to take when we waded into them. We picked an area to concentrate on first, and she gave me some exercises to work on that first week at home. I left feeling like I had a partner in this and a way forward.

          I’ve tried therapy on and off a couple times in my life. My mom made me go in 5th grade, and I haaaated it. My dad died when I was 2, and the therapist said that my behavior was from the trauma of losing my dad. Um, well, that’s not really possible – I had never known anything BUT my mother – I couldn’t be upset about missing something I’d never known, but she just kept pressing and pressing every week about it. I may have been a brat without a second pair of hands around to wrangle me lol, but I wasn’t upset about it.

          I sought out therapy a few years ago, and I originally thought the therapist was a decent match, but, well, I think it came down to her not being educated/cerebral enough to handle my issues. She only had her Master’s and I really felt like she wasn’t asking questions that were getting to the heart of the issue. It was just me venting on a couch and I left every session feeling more frustrated than before and like she didn’t get what I was saying. Unfortunately, I lived in a small town at this time, so practitioners were hard to come by. I think she was more of a feel good coach than a serious shrink, and that wasn’t what I needed.

          I say all that to say that you really might strike out with a therapist or two. That’s ok, just keep looking. Just think of it like dating ha.

          To help you as you look for someone, I’d encourage you to think clearly about what your issues are. I literally brought in a bulleted list so I’d remember them and how I wanted to frame them. Sometimes we can get rambly about our issues – I wrote one very tight sentence for each of my issues to clearly articulate them. I’ve really chosen to be actively in charge of my care at this point – driving the discussion, asking for meds, etc – and it feels good. Good luck to you :)

    • Distance Therapy is a License Issue :

      You can contact your City and State Psychological Associations for referrals … many Psychologists specialize in Mood Disorders. Some cities have support groups for folks with anxiety and/or depression. The point person for that support group likely has a list of referrals who are highly recommended. Best wishes.

    • First of all, be prepared to go to several therapists until you find one you feel comfortable with. This is not unusual at all!

      I would start by talking to your doctor and/or gyno. Tell them what issues in particular you are having some issues with (depression, anxiety, grief, just general life stresses, etc) and ask for some recommendations. Also check with your insurance carrier to see who is in your network. If you have any friends that see therapists, ask them if their therapist might give some recommendations OR you might try their therapist.

      Many many mental health professionals do not take insurance, which is really unfortunate. You can ask about this when you call their office. A lot of them will give you the info to file a claim through your insurance yourself. You can also call your insurance company and see how that works, mental health coverage just varies and I’ve found it’s a whole different ball game than the usual health issues. My therapist doesn’t take insurance but I honestly think it’s worth the higher price for me to see someone that I have a good connection with (and at this point I’m only seeing her once every 6 months, if I had to go every week that might be a different story). I think it will also depend on whether they are a therapist vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist. Again, which one you go to will really depend on your specific needs.

      Then, start making some appointments. Again, do not be surprised if some of the doctors/therapists just aren’t your cup of tea. I was having terrible anxiety attacks a few years ago, I went to one psychiatrist who literally handed me a handful of pills and told me to take them and not to come back for 2 weeks. Not helpful!

      I am a big believer that everyone should have a mental health professional the same way they would have a regular doctor. I was thankfully able to get my anxiety issues under control, but I still see my psychiatrist every 6 months for medication management and just to talk about what’s going on in my life. I’ve seen her for 10 years now and the few times that I’ve had a crisis, it is SO helpful to have someone that I already have an established relationship with.

      Good luck! Take care of yourself.

  9. As a Clinical Psychologist, perhaps I have a different interpretation of Reader C’s question. While I understand the comments recommending a change in appointment time or even in employment, I think the root of the question lies in an issues of boundaries — how do you convey to your employer that you need this time for yourself? How do you carve out an hour (or 1.5 hours, with travel), and be politely firm about needing that time to take care of yourself in the face of a corporate culture that demands your constant availability? I think suggesting that the reader change her appointment time misses this fundamental aspect of her question.
    While I have never worked in Big Law, my husband does, and I have worked in academic environments that also heavily frown upon “personal time.” I agree with the previous comments that reclassifying your therapy as a medical appointment might be a good idea as to avoid the unfortunate stigma that often accompanies mental health. Beyond that, I would also suggest being very upfront and clear about your availability would also help. For instance: “I’m unavailable between 7:45pm and 9:15pm, but am reachable immediate before and after that time.” Another suggestion could be to open up another hour in your schedule to “make up” for that time that you miss? At the very least, it’s a show of good faith to your employers that you are aware of your time commitment to your job. Finally, as previously mentioned, you could also set up coverage with a colleague for the time that you are unavailable, and provide coverage for that colleague in exchange for the same amount of time.

  10. Therapy Pro :

    I think I’m more or less an expert on this one . . .my advice (based on Big Law in two different cities with therapy during most of the time):

    – Consider whether you need to tell anyone anything. If you’re mid-project with something happening that night such that your absence will be noted, then yes, you need to “step out for an appointment but will be back by X.” But otherwise, you are happening to leave at 7:30 and unless you normally announce “I’m going home to eat dinner, drink wine, watch TV, and take out the trash,” there’s no need to say anything.

    – If you decide to say physical therapy (which I did with anyone who pushed for a reason, which was rare), be prepared that everyone and their brother has been to PT for some reason and has lots of stories to share. I nearly had an utter disaster on my hands when it turned out the spouse of a fellow associate went to PT (for real) at the place I had planned to claim I was visiting.

    – Watch what you put into your calendar, assuming your assistant and/or others can see it. When my standing appointment time switched, I decided that I had to have graduated from PT by then so I switched and just put in my trainer’s name. (So my assistant just thought I was working out every Saturday with my trainer.)

    – Phone therapy appointments are better than nothing, but I found it very difficult to focus and to keep people out of my office during them (despite putting up our group’s normal “on a conference call, please don’t disturb” sign).

    – It’s great that you’ve found someone with an 8 pm appointment, but I agree with the advice to make sure that’s the best time for you. I’ve found, for example, that Monday night I can leave at a predictable time, but Thursday is usually a late night. (Probably because on Sunday I can do stuff ahead if necessary and we have a standing client due date every other Friday, so YMMV.) But do think about what is workable for you.

    – I see the point about boundaries, but that’s sometimes easier said than done and you need to be able to pick your battles. I think being thoughtful about scheduling and thinking through how to handle things if it comes up can be a lot easier and allow you to save your emotional energy for other things.

    Good luck!

  11. I have been thinking about this thread constantly since it was posted. Obviously there are a lot of reasons to work in BigLaw, and I did it for years. And was in therapy most of that time for anxiety symptoms that pretty much evaporated when I got out.

    Even if you plan to stay for financial, training, or other reasons, it’s never too early to look around and think about whether or not partnership is something you really want. (the prize for the pie-eating contest is more pie.) That seems like everyone’s goal, partially because it has to be officially, but it was a huge wake up call to me when I realized that everyone I’d ever liked at my firm had left to go in-house or work in government or do something else entirely.

    Quite honestly, it has now become a personality test for me. You have to buy in to some super sick behavior and norms to succeed in many biglaw firms, and it’s okay to decide that it’s not for you– it doesn’t make you weak, or a worse attorney, or less talented or any of the things that that culture tells you it is. None of the partners at big firms who I know well are very happy people. Not saying it can’t be done, just saying that you can work in that environment for years without necessarily drinking the kool-aid or beating up on yourself if you don’t want any.

  12. Not in Biglaw, but in a large regional practice – I was terrified of “stepping out” for therapy appointments. I went twice a week initially because I was really struggling. Turns out, the fear of being out of pocket for an hour was part of the general anxiety symptoms I needed to manage. I have not had anyone push back on my therapy appointments in 3+ years; I have sometimes realized that I need to reschedule, or maybe need to skip because of a client meeting. But work deliverables can almost always be planned to accommodate a 50 minute appointment.

    Also consider that the times you will find it most stressful to attend therapy are probably the times you will get the most out of therapy because you will be able to experience the stress in the moment and work through it with the therapist.

    And I second the “early morning” advice; I almost never have to skip my 9 am appointment. When I’ve had 11 am appointments or afternoon appointments, there was a lot more competition for my time. Just know your office and know your practice group.

  13. download the app Talkspace! It’s basically therapy over texting but totally legitimate with licensed therapists. That’s the only way I can make time for therapy because I can write back and forth with my therapist on the go instead of dedicating a whole chunk of time at once.

    • Anonymous :

      Wow… Is this for real?!?

      • Distance Therapy is a License Issue :

        Again, do your due diligence. This may not be as legit as it sounds. Be sure you can check the therapist’s references, licenses, etc. You really may not be getting the help you need from a professional… there’s that old adage: You get what you pay for.

        • actually, the therapists are legitimate and licensed. I looked mine up and she is a highly regarded therapist in her region. She is a full time therapist at a clinic and does this on the side.

      • LawyerLife :

        I have been using it for almost 2 years now. It is just incredible! I live in a relatively small town and this app allows me to get access to someone who has very specialized experience in the area that I need assistance with. It has changed my life for the better.

  14. I asked this in a previous thread so apologies in advance, but has anyone had experience finding a therapist through a firm’s eap? I’m in a new city and am thinking about going back to therapy but worry about confidentially and the quality of the referrals.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m a doc and I find your question really unusual… I would never think to look to my employer for something like this. Do you know anyone in your city at all?!? If so, ask them for a PCP rec, and see that doctor first. Ask PCP for a referral.

    • I did eap through my large oil and gas company two years ago. I was living in a small town where everyone knows everyone and what they’re up to and still felt like I had complete confidentiality. The companies that manage EAP are even separate often from your insurance provider so as far as I know there really is little way for people at the company to find out. The first person I was referred to was AWFUL (ragged on my company and the way our employees acted…so stupid) but I found out a provider in my city that a friend recommended was on the EAP approved list and I loved her. I don’t even believe my first visit with the bad one counted against my EAP limit for the year.

  15. BoutiqueMeg :

    I am a lawyer and I go to therapy every other week on Friday in the early mornings for an hour, and I have for over a year now. If something comes up before hand that is truly important and that I have to handle (travel, client meeting, hearing, etc.), I move my appointment, but if it is last minute, I say I have a doctor’s appointment, and ask to start at 10 am or later, and leave it at that. It’s never been a problem.

    You have to take care of yourself! As law firm associates, we work so many nights, weekends, and vacations that I think it is fine (unless it is a a true emergency) to miss a sliver of work to go to therapy, dentist, eye doctor, etc. It’s ok. Don’t feel bad. It would be much worse to let your mental health issues go to the point where it does interfere with your job in some way. An hour appointment at 8pm every week or every other week or whatever is perfectly fine. If they can’t let you off the hook for an hour that late at night, then I agree with others who say to switch to a different firm!!! Not every firm is a total sweat shop.

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  17. I manage a small IT team (10 people) for not-big-law, but still in a very demanding industry that has no respect for personal-time or non-work-hours. I found a psychologist who I adored but didn’t to late evening or weekend appointments. I just lumped my schedule change in with a large batch of other information to my team and my boss and no-one really cared. I don’t put it in on my calendar and gently remind people not to schedule me after 2pm on Wednesday. If someone outside the department schedules something then I tell them I have a Drs appointment I forgot to put on my calendar and move the meeting or send someone in my place. So far no-one has put a and b together or if they have they don’t care enough. The way I see it everyone is so caught up in their own stress and struggles, the fact that I have my phone powered off for an hour once a week is not something anyone will see.

    From the management side- I’ve seen the guys on my team go through some pretty stressful stuff both personally and professionally and I always make a deliberate effort to pull them aside and give them the opportunity to move their calendar around to spend more time with family or talk to someone. People perform better when their personal life is in check, and I think it builds better morale.

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