Robert B. Thornhill, J.
The Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program held its second annual “Recovery Retreat” in May in the mountains at beautiful Camp Sumatanga near Oneonta. This is an opportunity for our volunteer committee members to receive training to enhance their ability to serve effectively on our committee and give assistance and support to attorneys, judges or law students who may be struggling with a mental health issue or a substance use disorder. It also provides a time of fellowship and camaraderie with one another. I think we definitely accomplished this!
This year we had another outstanding lineup of speakers, including Laura Calloway, Service Programs director, and Mark Moody, assistant general counsel in the Office of General Counsel, who began the retreat by discussing the function and interaction of these two state bar programs.
They were followed by Lisa Holman, area director with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Mary Turner, board member and attorney, who addressed the tragic reality of suicide in our legal community, signs to look for that may indicate suicidal ideation and ways to intervene.
The next day, Elizabeth Mullins, licensed clinical social worker, discussed mindfulness therapy, a psychological technique that teaches how to be “in the moment” and how to avoid getting caught up in a cycle of negative thinking and the depressed mood that these thoughts can create.
Mullins’s talk was followed by Dr. Joseph Schumacher’s discussion on the topic of the high incidence of “co-occurring disorders” among professionals who present for residential treatment for a substance use disorder. Dr. Schumacher, a clinical addiction psychologist, demonstrated how a significant proportion of those with addictive disorders also suffer from one or more additional mental health maladies, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar...