The Segue Between Counseling and Criminal Defense

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”

– Gautama Buddha


Criminal defense lawyers sometimes represent society’s outcasts.  By accusation our clients are said to have broken society’s laws; or in terms of psychodrama, have deviated from the cultural conserve in an unacceptable way.  For this and many other reasons, representing citizens accused of crime can be emotionally draining.  One way to deal with this is to make sure you don’t become emotionally involved.  To keep your “professional distance.”

But as a Warrior, we know this is not a viable option.  And once we begin to reverse roles with our clients, to see their lives through their eyes, we begin to clearly see lives full of unproductive and often destructive addictions or other mental health issues.  Do we avert our eyes from this reality, or do we use our influence to help heal our clients?   If we decide to truly embrace our role as “counselor” then we must also know the limits.  Few of us have the professional training to “treat” substance abuse or mental health disorders.  Accordingly, the assistance of therapists and counselors is essential.  Maybe then the first step is to create a referral network, and then to use this network for clients who need this help.

Once the referral is made however this does not mean we no longer have or should have a role.  There is often simply too much of an overlap between the legal issue and the broader life issue.  Because psychodrama provides us with so many tools that can assist us in all facets of our representation, the question becomes how to best use these tools to help our clients no only win their legal case, but to quite literally win back their lives?

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Patrick T. Barone is a Michigan criminal defense trial lawyer and co-founder of the Michigan Psychodrama Center. He is a Board Certified Trainer, Educator and Practitioner of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. He is also a Board Certified Psychodrama Trainer. Patrick has applied his psychodrama training in his criminal law practice and when teaching law and trial skills. He also has used sociodrama, an adjunct form of psychodrama in the business environment and Bibliodrama in the faith setting. He is the author of a chapter entitled Bringing Scripture to Life with Bibliodrama for Adam Blatner’s book entitled Action Explorations: Using Psychodramatic Methods in Non-Therapeutic Settings , (Paralax Productions, February 23, 2019). In his capacity as a business consultant, Mr. Barone has worked with business owners and executives in businesses of all sizes throughout Michigan. Additionally, Mr. Barone continues to practice law and is the founding partner and CEO at the Barone Defense Firm.

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