Why would see an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker before going to Court?
If you find yourself in the situation where you have been charged with an offence, don’t despair. Although I am sure you have already spent a lot of time thinking about your situation and what you can do to improve. You may have also received legal advice about what the judge will take into consideration when you are sentenced.
If you have ever found yourself in the situation where you have been charged with an offence try not to get too stressed about it. You may have spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about it but what can you actually DO to make the situation better? Well, have you ever thought about seeing a health professional such as an accredited mental health social worker before you go to court, for counselling?
Why would I see an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker
People often think there has to be something really wrong before you would see a therapist, counsellor or Accredited Mental Health Social Worker but that is not the case. Many people facing the court process need someone to talk to and someone that can help them manage what they are going through, someone independent that is not a friend or family member.
Perhaps you have come from an unsupportive home life, or have been a victim of family and domestic violence and you have developed poor coping skills. A therapist can help you to identify the underlying causes and develop strategies to manage and learn new behaviours.
Help to Manage your Stress
The court process can be a stressful, costly and an uncertain experience. Depending upon the charges, cases may go on for a number of years before an outcome is achieved. This may mean you spend a very long time worrying about the potential outcome and how it impacts your life.
An Accredited Mental Health Social Worker can help you talk about fears and concerns in a non-judgmental environment. They can also offer different coping techniques help you deal with the stress of your court case.
Perhaps there are underlying issues that may have contributed to your offending behaviour or leading to you being charged with criminal offences? Sometimes it is hard to make the connection between drug or alcohol use and subsequent behaviour that results in offending or criminal activity. For example, drinking too much and getting into an altercation that ends in assault charges being laid. Or substance abuse that leads to a cycle of anger and Accredited Mental Health Social Worker is a professional with specialist training and experience in mental health and they are here to help. In therapy you can express your fears and worries and develop some useful strategies to manage your stress or any other symptoms you may have.
Court Reports and Letters
In some cases, your Accredited Mental Health Social Worker may be able to write a report that the judge will consider before they sentence you. In other cases, your Accredited Mental Health Social Worker may agree to write a letter of support for you or even a letter confirming your attendance at counselling sessions. This will vary depending upon the clinician but it is helpful to ask for this when deciding upon which clinician to see before your first appointment.
Other times when counselling can be helpful
If you are on parole, sometimes you may have additional conditions place upon you, such as attending courses, programs or counselling
Alternatively, if you are sentenced to a probation order, you will need to follow certain conditions, which could include participating in programs or counselling.
Cost and Affordability
Going to court can be expensive but seeing a therapist doesn’t have to be. If you think that seeing an accredited mental health social worker will help then try making an appointment with your general practitioner (GP) to discuss the matter. If you and your doctor develop a mental health treatment plan, you may be entitled to receive rebates through Medicare to partially reimburse you for the cost of counselling sessions. If you have private health insurance you may get some of the costs reimbursed. So, it is definitely worth looking into.
It is really important to reach out and seek help, because going to court can be a frightening experience. Your family doctor is a great place to start. They may refer you to a Mental Health Accredited Social Worker or other allied health professional for counselling under the Medicare Better Access Scheme, as well as helplines such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or text or chat online at https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat/.
Author:Maree Stevens,Master of Social Work; Master of Human Services; Graduate Diploma of Counselling; Graduate Certificate Mental Health Practice.
Maree is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker with several years’ experience working and supporting adults with offending behaviours through the Court Process.
Maree is currently not taking bookings. Our team can assist you with placing you with another clinician. Please call Vision Psychology on (07) 3088 5422.
Applying for parole. Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/sentencing-prisons-and-probation/sentencing-probation-and-parole/applying-for-parole
Probation: Retrieved from https://www.qld.gov.au/law/sentencing-prisons-and-probation/sentencing-probation-and-parole/probation
Services Australia mental health care plans. Retrieved from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/mental-health-care-and-medicare?context=60092