Experience suggests that receiving compensation for physical or mental injury or distress is often followed by a significant improvement in the client’s symptoms. Many therapists decline to take on clients with ongoing compensation cases and some question the honesty of clients who make such recoveries.
Therapists who decline such cases may simply be unwilling to become embroiled in a legal battle (or fearful that a litigious client may turn on them) but those who doubt the client may be failing an empathy test. A client claiming compensation has a great deal to fear from their therapist.
Clients seeking compensation for their injuries (physical or emotional) face a difficult dilemma: cases can take years (up to seven, in my experience) to come to court and any recovery in this time may be used by the defence lawyers to undermine their case, reducing any settlement.
Compensating irrecoverable injuries at a higher rate than recoverable conditions seems eminently fair. Clients who fear undermining their case through recovery may therefore seem grasping and greedy, but this view assumes that there will be a pay out, which is by no means certain.
From the client’s perspective, they may have lost their livelihood, their home, even friends and family to the injury or the aftermath. They may be seeking recompense but they may also be seeking some form of acknowledgement of their loss by those responsible. The defence case generally rests upon denying liability and this lack of acknowledgement can put the client under immense strain.
Therapists work by encouraging clients to take a realistic view of their past, current and future circumstances. In doing so, they may ask many of the same questions as will be raised (more robustly) by the defence lawyers, making the therapist a more threatening figure than we might hope to be.
The client should also be aware that the therapist’s notes and the therapist themselves may be called by the court, which has the power to override confidentiality. The client usually has no idea if this will happen and so may withhold information, especially information which they fear might put them in a bad light, to the detriment of therapy.
Once compensation has been awarded or a settlement has been reached, the client is likely to be more secure financially, which is usually a major relief: a disabled person may feel that they can now pay back those who have supported them over the years since their injury. Also, the client has a public, official acknowledgement of their hurt and loss, which should facilitate their own acceptance.
Most importantly, with no-one now working to undermine the client’s case, they can now trust the supports and opportunities offered both within and outwith therapy. Given this, “miraculous” recoveries seem much less surprising or suspicious.
Therapists who argue that the client should await such a change in their circumstances before seeking therapy may be consigning people to months or years of stress, anxiety and depression. The work may be harder and the relationship and responsibilities more challenging, but the need is there.