Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Disciplinary Action
Be aware that each jurisdiction may have differences in their laws and rules regarding the practice of psychology and licensed professionals. The information contained in this section is general information. If you have a question regarding a licensed psychologist, please check with the state, province or territory where the individual is licensed or registered to obtain specifics about your questions.
What kind of complaints do licensing boards accept?
Licensing boards will review any formal written complaint about a psychologist's services or behavior related to the practice of psychology. The boards will take action to discipline the psychologist if they find evidence that the psychologist provided incompetent or unprofessional services or engaged in unethical or unprofessional or illegal behavior. You may not know whether the psychologist's behavior is incompetent or unprofessional without advice. If the psychologist's behavior seems inappropriate to you, contact the licensing board, the professional association or another professional to share your concerns and receive guidance.
What if I feel apprehensive about reporting my psychologist?
Feelings of confusion, protectiveness, shame or guilt are especially common in this type of situation. After all, in most cases, the psychologist was an extremely important person in my life. However, it is important for you to get as much information as possible about your options. Keep in mind that you are in control and can choose what to do.
What if the psychologist retaliates against me, harasses me or files a lawsuit against a patient for reporting him or her?
Most state and provincial laws do provide immunity from liability for good faith reporting of professional misconduct to a licensing board. Retaliation and harassment of complainants may be illegal and can be prosecuted. You may wish to seek legal advice to gain more information about this. If the psychologist does file a lawsuit, the patient should seek legal counsel.
Can I file an anonymous complaint with a licensing board?
Not all licensing boards accept anonymous complaints. You need to check directly with the licensing board regarding its policy. Anonymous complaints may be more difficult to investigate without the cooperation of the accuser.
I told my current psychologist about my past psychologist's unethical behavior. Should I still file a complaint with the board?
Yes, you have the most information regarding this issue. In addition, there is no guarantee that your current psychologist can notify the board. You may wish to discuss this further with your current psychologist.