Towards a relational perspective - A practical and practice-based discussion on health and wellbeing amongst a sample of Barristers

  • Bernadette Healy no affiliation with academic institution


The particular set of stressors faced by barristers (as reported during counselling) often results in a private fear that they will unravel in some way. Typically the fear is experienced within the professional sphere and is accompanied, and exacerbated, by a hyper-vigilant stance towards their environment in a way not dissimilar to sufferers of post-traumatic stress. Barrister clients tend to be extremely self-critical. The threat of judgment is also of course a very real part of their professional life as is intense conflict. The combination of this professional reality with an over-utilized (at least in the personal domain) critical facility is detrimental to their wellbeing and psychological health. Unchecked, the continual interaction of these two factors can lead to levels of extreme stress. One of the contributors to this stress seems to be the experience of an impoverished ability to connect both to the self and to others. It is suggested that this impact on the relational domain may be connected to the over-use of a number of strategies originally adopted as protective in the face of inherently conflicting personal and professional demands. It has become increasingly clear that the relational domain is an area of particular need in the work with barristers who attend counselling and one of potential importance in the area of preventative health and wellbeing generally. The consideration of balance, both internal and external, is a critical factor in both the creation and management of these difficult issues.