Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Courtesy Explanation Enough When 'Breaking Up' With Professionals

DEAR MISS MANNERS: For nine years, I have been seeing a mental health professional who has been treating me for depression and anxiety. I have a good relationship with the doctor but feel it is time for a change.

The chief reason for considering leaving is that his fees have become too expensive. Many other mental health care professionals' fees in the area are much less. The doctor I am seeing is a one-man operation who leases out a small space in an office building. His education level and experience is not much different than the other doctors I have been researching.

Should I tell him the chief reason I am leaving his practice is the expense, or just that I need a change?

GENTLE READER: Your dealings with professionals such as therapists (and hairdressers) are not social relationships, and their cessation does not require the same amount of care by way of excuses in order to spare their feelings. Miss Manners does not, however, object to the professional courtesy of telling this gentleman that his prices are not competitive. This will also give him the opportunity to counter the offer -- and not wonder forever what he did wrong.