By Dr. Joti Samra, CEO & Founder of the Psychological Health & Safety (PH&S) Clinic and MyWorkplaceHealth
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?
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.
Excerpted from Dr. Joti Samra’s “Ask the Psychologist” weekly column in The Globe and Mail.
Online (Virtual) Counselling: As Effective as In-Office Sessions?
Planning for and traveling to appointments can be such a hassle. Most of us have busy lives and packed schedules, so the time it takes up to book and travel to appointments often discourages us from making them. We know that the appointments are important but we can’t justify the time. You’ve likely seen an explosion of advertisements over recent years for virtually-delivered health services: online, through video, phone, and apps. Did you know that doctors and nurses aren’t the only ones providing these services? Psychologists and clinical counsellors are now also providing virtual counselling services.
All you need is a computer (desktop or laptop), a private space, and a good internet connection and you can have your therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home! Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Is it the same experience and as effective as in-office appointments?
It’s easy to think there may be a cost that comes with the convenience of telehealth, but that’s not the case.
The clinicians you have the opportunity to work with are the same professionals, with the same level of education, that you’d work with if you were participating in in-office sessions. In some cases, the clinicians who are offering telehealth services are also offering in-office sessions depending on individual needs.
Furthermore, the research efficacy demonstrates that for the vast majority of presenting issues (e.g., work and relationship stress, anxiety, and mood disorders) the effectiveness of therapy services provided virtually are equal to – and in some cases even better than – traditional in-office delivery.
What the Research Says
A large 2016 survey funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that between 94 percent and 99 percent were “very satisfied” with virtually-delivered counselling services, and one-third of respondents actually preferred the telehealth experience to in-office.
Another study indicated that people who engaged in telehealth sessions were more likely to want to repeat their experience with a therapist than they were with an in-office care provider.
Furthermore, over 60% of millennials indicate they would like telehealth services to fully replace in-office visits, and indicate they would prefer the use of technology to supplement their experience.
These results are not surprising considering that millennials (who now make up the greatest portion of the workforce) are a generation that generally grew up with and are comfortable navigating computers and technology – and not only want but expect the convenience technology can afford.