A question the criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm are often asked by their client’s is whether it would be beneficial to begin in therapy. Although the question is typically offered in the context of “will it help my case” or “will it make me look better in front of the judge or prosecutor” this is only one aspect that underlies this question.
We have found that many persons involved in allegedly criminal behavior are doing so as an outgrowth or sublimation of an ongoing and improperly treated mental health issue. In the case of an allegation of intoxicated or drunk driving the individual may be suffering from an unmitigated substance use disorder. In such a case, the substance use disorder may be a further sublimation of a mood or personality disorder. On the other hand, a person accused of receiving, distributing, or producing child pornography may have themselves been abused as children or suffer from an addiction to pornography. These are just two examples of how the alleged criminal behavior is really a manifestation or symptom of something else.
Understanding the complexity of the issue, the criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm often interview our clients with an ear toward thinking of what additional services might benefit them. If we believe that therapy will help them improve their lives, we will often make referrals to various mental health individuals or group centers. In doing so we are seeking primarily to help fulfill the Firm’s mission, which is to help our client’s win back their lives.
This is not to say that therapy and treatment are not beneficial to our client’s position in court. After all, the putative goal of the criminal justice system is reform. Said differently, the goal is to prevent repeat behavior and thereby to protect society. And if a person can obtain proper mental health treatment, they have gone a long way toward fulfilling these dual goals.
Of the many treatment options available one that is less known or recognized is a form of experiential group therapy known more broadly as psychodrama. The lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm first became aware of psychodrama when the Firm’s founder, Patrick Barone, attended the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College.
Gerry Spence is a living legend, and many consider him to be one of the greatest lawyers of all time. He first gained national recognition when he won a 10.2 Million Dollar verdict for Karen Silkwood, whose story was later depicted in the film “Silkwood” starring Meryl Streep. More recently Mr. Spence represented Michigan attorney Jeff Fieger in his Eastern District Federal Court criminal case, thereby earning Mr. Fieger an acquittal. This acquittal was expected if only because Mr. Spence has never lost a jury trial. Known as the TLC “method,” Gerry Spence innovated the incorporation of various psychodrama interventions into all 7 phases of a criminal jury trial and uses his land in Dubois Wyoming to teach psychodrama and the TLC method to select lawyers around the country.
There is only one place in Michigan to obtain this kind of experiential group therapy and that is at the Michigan Psychodrama Center. Founded in 2015 by Dr. Elizabeth Corby and Patrick Barone, the MPC offers group therapy and psychodrama training to certain individuals. While the Barone Defense Firm rarely refers Firm clients to the MPC, other lawyers around that state do so. And, in addition to a bi-weekly therapy group, the MPC also offers single day and weekend psychodrama workshops as well as a weeklong summer intensive.
Both MPC’s founders are also certified by the American Board of Psychodrama Examiners to provide training hours to those wishing to learn psychodrama. This training group often includes lawyers wishing to learn or enhance their use of the TLC method.
Lawyers interested in referring to the MPC and individuals looking for effective group therapy are advised to visit the Michigan Psychodrama Center’s website for more information.