Q: My son began a series of sessions with a speech therapist sponsored by the Health Services. During the first sessions, I noticed that my son did not understand what the therapist said, which in my opinion stemmed from the fact that she did not explain herself properly. What really annoyed me was that she laughed every time he made a mistake.
I requested a transfer to a different therapist without explaining or giving any details as to the reason. The relevant parties agreed. We began with a new therapist who was excellent. She had a wonderful attitude and my son was, baruch Hashem, very successful.
I think it would be right to notify the supervisor of the first therapist’s inappropriate behavior, so that other children don’t suffer. Is it permissible for me to do so, or does it constitute lashon hara?
A: Your first step would be to discuss this with the original therapist. Tell her about your son’s improvement from the time you switched therapists, and explain to her that it seems there was a communication problem. Also say that her inappropriate — even mocking — attitude was damaging to your son’s self-image.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking directly to her, you can write her a respectful letter to clarify your point. It would be correct to add that you chose to write a letter directly to her, instead of to the clinic’s supervisor, because you are confident that this letter will serve the purpose of improving the situation. You can keep the letter anonymous.
As long as you didn’t try to make the therapist aware of these faults, there is no heter to approach the supervisor, even if you are concerned that you won’t be able to follow up and see that the therapist did improve. (You can assume that your letter accomplished its mission. In the case that it didn’t, then in all probability other parents, who are permitted to submit complaints because their children are still under her care, will do so.)
It is only if you are sure that nothing will work, and it is a matter of her personality, that you are permitted to approach the supervisor without having first spoken to her, taking care to follow the halachic guidelines for lashon hara l’toeles.
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