Are you or someone you know having legal troubles?

Are you or someone you know having legal troubles?

So you open an envelope and notice you are being sued, ordered to testify or get charged with a crime. In those first moments your mind is racing. Anxiety is off the charts. You might be thinking about all of problems you already have and now “how will I get past this, what do I do.”  You may also begin stressing about how many tens of thousands it will cost if involved in a custody battle or get charged with a sexual offense.  Maybe it is a smaller matter. Maybe you’re in the military and going through a medical board or worse facing UCMJ action or foreclosure on your home. Whatever it is, it is stressful and a state of limbo that could go on for months or years.  Many personal injury cases often involve people in motor vehicle accidents, and the process can last for years.  The state of limbo can seem unbearable.  So what should you do?

For starters get referrals for the appropriate lawyer.  Sites like http://www. and the bar association can help, and they offer advice on finding a competent lawyer.  If questioned by the police before you have a lawyer, stop talking and ask for a lawyer.  Even if you are not in an interrogation room, everything you say is being collected to be used against you.  Even if you think you are innocent and have nothing to hide, shut it and lawyer up.  Take it a day at a time. Your lawyer will guide you on what steps to take.  Have a good support system.  Be cautious who you trust if engaged in a custody battle, as friends can take sides.

It can be a very stressful time and can consume people.  In this case it is imperative to learn relaxation skills.  Don’t be afraid to see a psychologist or other like professional.  If concerned about confidentiality, mention that at the beginning and discuss it to be sure of the limitations and how the provider documents.  If you use insurance, the opposing legal counsel can find out.  Even if you pay via credit or check, they might find out, especially in personal injury cases.  They can be so intrusive.  It is less likely anyone will know if you self pay even with credit.  Again talk to the provider about your concerns.  Having a neutral and objective expert to process things with will enable you to enjoy your life while in this state of limbo and make better related decisions. Your psychologist can also testify about the stress you have endured which might help your case.  Always sign a release to allow your therapist to talk to your attorney.  Your lawyer may also have you evaluated by a psychologist that might help your case.  Yes this costs more money, but can better help your lawyer help you.  If the results aren’t favorable, you don’t have to use the report.  You want a reputable psychologist to conduct the evaluation.  People know who the hired guns are.

In sum, facing legal problems is a highly stressful time, but it can be manageable.  If you are in a process like this and live in the Tampa Bay area, please contact me for information, as I conduct many of these evaluations and work with folks to manage their stress and other problems.  If not in Florida, consult sites like http://www.psychology today or do a Google search to find people who can help you.  Also seek appropriate legal counsel and have a good support network to help you through.


Dr. Umfer is a licensed clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist in Tampa Florida. She specializes in weight loss and forensic evaluations, such as sex offender risk assessments, psychological evaluations for substance abuse, competency, fitness for duty, immigration etc. She has certifications in fitness and nutrition, clinical hypnotherapy and as a meditation instructor. She identifies herself as a Forensic Evaluator and Weight Liberator and strives to help clients become "Umferized" aka empowered and fulfilled.

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