When he relocated from his 4,000-squarefoot office in Youngsville to a 700-square-foot space in Lafayette, Dr. David Legendre had a specific goal in mind.
“I wanted to simplify my life,” he says. Now he is concentrating on what he loves best — helping families and individuals going through tough times.
In his 30-plus years of practice, the licensed marriage and family therapist has gone the gamut from running a private counseling practice to founding two private addiction treatment centers to serving as a court-appointed mental health evaluator. After obtaining his undergraduate and master’s degrees in psychology from USL (now UL Lafayette) and his Ph.D. from Florida State University, the New Orleans native came to Lafayette to set up his practice. Besides being a marriage and family counselor, he is also a licensed professional counselor and a licensed addictions counselor.
When Legendre first came to Lafayette 45 years ago, private treatment for mental health and addiction issues was scant. So, he founded what became the two premier residential treatment centers in town — Acadiana Addiction Center in 2003 and Victory Addiction Recovery Center in 2011.
“I felt as though we needed quality alcohol and drug treatment in our city,” he says. “That’s the reason I went out there and did it.”
After successfully growing both companies, he sold them to two separately owned larger venture capitalist firms from outside of Lafayette.
“Other people are going to carry that on,” he explains. “But now we have at least two really good drug and alcohol treatment centers. And that’s made the public services step up their game, too. Both of those places are probably at capacity. That problem is alive and well in our city.”
Legendre also serves as a court-appointed mental health and child custody evaluator in Lafayette, Iberia, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes.
“I evaluate the parents as to their fitness to have custody and the type of custody they should have, and make recommendations to the court system in divorce and child custody cases,” he explains. “Predominately, I wind up being an advocate for kids. To me, that’s probably the most important role that I take on when I deal with the court system.”
Moving to a smaller, quieter space on the third floor of Whitney Bank in River Ranch allows Legendre to really focus on his private practice, where he primarily counsels individuals, couples and families. “People with all kinds of quality of life issues show up,” he explains.
It is Legendre’s ability to make people feel at ease that contributes to his more than 30 years of success. His new office is simple, with a cozy reception area and hand-painted sign by a former child patient brandishing his favorite motto: “Be Nice or Leave.” Inside his spacious counseling office is a massive 200-pound wooden Indian with a red button bearing a “No Whining” warning; it was handcarved by a grateful patient.
“My patients love the new office because it’s private, quiet and comfortable,” he says. “That’s the most important thing to me — making my patients feel comfortable.”