Mental Defense Attorney
Though not a technique associated with my practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I invite clients to consider use of a tool I refer to as the mental defense attorney. This is a form of self-talk designed to challenge unhelpful and unhealthy beliefs.
While I’m not an attorney and remain unaffiliated with judicial affairs, my ignorance-based perspective of how law works led to the formulation of this technique. Undoubtedly, those familiar with the court system can provide input to help modify the concept presented herein.
In the United States criminal justice system there are essentially three elements which comprise the handling of a court case. Depending on the venue, there is a judge and/or jury, prosecuting attorney, and defense attorney.
The judge and jury are as an unbiased a source as possible whose main function is to decide an outcome. The judge maintains procedural standards and sometimes rules on a case while the jury’s role is to determine whether or not a crime has been committed.
The prosecutor represents the state and seeks to adjudicate criminal offenses. Colloquially referred to as an accuser, the prosecution serves as the source bringing charges and trying to convince a judge and/or jury about the guilt of a defendant.
On the other hand, a defense attorney is an advocate for the accused and is responsible for protecting a person’s interests. In common vernacular, the defense attempts to clear a person of charges in opposition to the prosecution’s claims.
How does any of this relate to mental health?
Mental defense attorney
For the purpose of psychotherapy, I equate the self-damning narratives we tell ourselves to the accusations of a prosecutor. We make claims about ourselves and often simply assume there is evidence to support these charges.
Consider that you are not your thoughts and you represent the defendant herein. We can think all sorts of things about ourselves that may or may not be true, rational, logical, helpful, or healthy.
For instance, one may think, “I’m unlovable and no one will ever want to be with me.” The mental prosecutor (negative self-talk) has presented the case for loneliness and despair.
If left undefended, the jury may determine that the claim itself indicates evidence. Therefore, the defendant is likely guilty.
In this case, the jury embodies a rational source responsible for deciding guilt or innocence. A claim without opposition to it may stand.
A judge overseeing a jury verdict may decide that because similar charges have occurred in the past and probably established legal precedent (the normalization of how to conduct a trial), the prosecution may prevail. After all, the jury ruled in favor of guilt.
This is where the mental defense attorney could be used to advocate on behalf of the defendant. Besides, the term defendant alludes to one who is accused and is to be defended.
I’ve heard it stated that attorneys have a duty to represent clients zealously and within the bounds of the law. A mental defense attorney is no except to the zealous advocacy standard.
It is the duty of the defense to present a counterargument for the judge and/or jury. Sticking with the charge for loneliness and despair, the defense may seek evidence to refute the claim that the defendant is unlovable and how acceptance and pair bonding are unachievable.
When working with clients about how to better argue in their defense, I introduce a number of disputing techniques. For this post, I won’t get into exactly how I practice disputation.
If you’re interested in reading more about my approach to REBT disputing, I encourage you to explore the Disputation section of my blog. There, you will find imaginary sessions with fictional clients which may elucidate how a mental defense attorney functions.
For now, it is my aim to persuade the reader regarding the importance of a proper defense against charges we bring against ourselves. It isn’t necessarily easy to begin use of a competent mental defense attorney.
At first, you may have little more than a bumbling public defender (sometimes derisively referred to as a public pretender) that shows up late, botches proper arguments, and fails to competently defend your case. This may be a better option than no attorney at all.
As you progress with your practice of this technique, by pushing through the discomfort as a means of achieving growth, your counsel may develop into a high-powered attorney worth of the resources you’ve paid to secure the representative.
It may be worth noting that I don’t offer perfection to clients. Likewise, there is no perfect mental defense attorney.
In therapy, some people seem to be searching for an existence in which no prosecutor will ever bring forth charges against them. This seems virtually impossible and I won’t be guilty to pretending otherwise.
Instead, I offer people the ability to work with what is, not necessarily what they demand ought to be. In this way, I train mental defense attorneys who may function in the world outside of session, because the accusations we level against ourselves likely will never cease.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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