All of us at law firms have either experienced or worked with people who suffer from stress, but few of us know how to effectively manage it.
I am a Psychotherapist and Stress Management Coach with very good understanding of the legal world as I practised as a Solicitor for 20 years. My therapy clients consult me for help with many different issues such as chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and addiction. The striking common denominator between almost every client I see is stress; which is either the main cause or a significant contributing factor to their presenting problem.
Must all Lawyers learn to cope with Stress?
Is stress just part and parcel of being a lawyer? Long term exposure to stress is toxic, and can lead to many other serious illnesses. Unfortunately they don’t teach how to deal with stress in law school, and regrettably many outdated and highly judgemental attitudes to stress still prevail. I’m sure I am not alone in having overheard senior managers say “if [Bob / Rita] can’t cope with the stress, they don’t belong in the job”.
Many of my perfectly capable, highly talented and conscientious ex-colleagues believed that they would only be noticed and promoted if they could work long hours. The venerated holiday snap on the beach working with the laptop is a badge of honour, and stress is considered to be normal and even a prerequisite to be a successful Lawyer.
Perhaps it is not surprising then that stress at law firms is ignored, brushed under the carpet and rarely admitted to openly for fear of negative and unfair judgement.
Why do Management need to address Stress?
In 2014 a staggering 96% of solicitors reported experiencing the negative effects of stress, with 20% of those reporting severe or serious stress at work (Solicitors’ Health and Wellbeing – the Law Society PC Holder Survey 2014).
The financial cost to business of sickness absences due to stress are significant – a loss of fee income for a single day’s absence for a Grade C fee earner is over £1,000.00.
And the personal consequences for the individual suffering from stress can be devastating. Yet in private practice, 65% of solicitors have no access at all to pastoral care within their organisation. Of the 35% who do the provision of a confidential telephone support line is better than nothing, but clearly it does not solve the problem.
If Stress is part of the job, what can we do about it?
Stress is an ever more pertinent fact of life and work. Given the potential harm it can cause to both people and business, would it not make sense to treat it more openly and seriously?
Any business depending on its people for success must have a robust Stress Management Strategy. This will reduce the impact of stress, increase productivity, enhance the well-being of staff, reduce sickness absence, and ultimately lead to a healthier work place.
Stress Management Solutions
I have combined my experience as a Solicitor and a Therapist to create the Stress Management Solutions Programme for Business. It includes practical workshops for staff of all levels.
Delegates learn about stress and its effects, and are taught to recognise stress when it occurs. Importantly, delegates will leave the workshop armed with a toolkit of healthy coping strategies to be used both in the workplace and elsewhere to manage and reduce the negative effects of stress on their health, and help themselves to avoid the potentially lethal long term consequences of chronic stress.
The Programme also includes anonymised feedback to the Management with recommendations. Thereafter, advice and support can be given to implement measures to minimise the negative effects of stress, and increase well-being and productivity. I am able to travel throughout England, Wales, and Scotland, to deliver these services to Business.
I recognise that not everyone would wish to avail themselves of stress management coaching in their employment context. As such, I offer the same workshops as standalone events organised periodically in the Greater Manchester, North West, East Midlands, and Yorkshire areas, so that delegates may attend on an individual and private basis.
It is my hope that the legal profession will eventually lead the way for business in terms of recognising the importance of mental health; facing it head on and dealing with it positively. The Stress Management Solutions Programme is designed to enable law firms to achieve precisely that. If you would like more information on how the Stress Management Solutions Programme can work for your organisation, please get in touch.
Stress Management Coaching for Individuals
I also offer an online Stress Management Programme for Individuals. Spread over 10 weeks, the sessions are on a 1:1 basis directly with me via skype/zoom, and because it is through Skype, geography is not an issue. The programme enables an individual to look far more in depth at the stress in life, to learn to avoid repeating patterns of unhealthy behaviours and negative thoughts, to take back control, increase confidence and ability to cope, and to enjoy feeling calm and in control of life and work once again. Please get in touch for more information.
Stresses/coping skills: By DR. DAVID POTTER – http://www.netchiro.com/coping-with-stress-and-avoiding-burnout/, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48160843