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The question

My boyfriend is in therapy, which I encouraged him to do. But sometimes I worry about the psychologist saying disparaging things about our relationship. Would a professional do this or am I being paranoid?

The answer

One of the most important roles for a competent psychologist is to be objective, neutral, and balanced in terms of their perspectives on their patient's life situations.

That said, psychologists – like any other individual in any profession – range in terms of their skills, efficacy and approach. So the answer is that a competent and ethical psychologist should not be making inappropriate judgmental comments to your boyfriend. But, like any other profession, there is always the small chance that a professional may be acting in a non-professional manner.

One's relationship is often a very appropriate area for discussion in a therapeutic relationship, so chances are good that your relationship has been discussed in some capacity.

The more important question is what other worries you may be having about your relationship. To me, it sounds like you are concerned that your boyfriend may be bringing up these issues in therapy and that the psychologist may be commenting on them.

My best advice would be to have a straightforward and open conversation with your boyfriend. Remain respectful of the fact that your boyfriend may – very appropriately and understandably – not want to talk about any details of his therapy with you. Instead, the goal of putting your concern on the table is to initiate a discussion about any areas of your relationship that you or your boyfriend think could be improved upon.

Ask him openly how he thinks things are going in your relationship, and if there are areas that he thinks need to be improved upon. Share your perspective and identify what you see as strengths and weaknesses.

Take a positive, problem-solving approach where you work toward thinking about ways that you could both improve any areas that are less than ideal from one or both of your perspectives. Try to not get defensive when you have this conversation.

Remember that all relationships have challenges, and that the stronger couples speak openly about areas of weakness and proactively work on them.

Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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