What Happens When a Complaint is Filed Against a Psychologist?
Psychologists who are licensed by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists have worked hard to become licensed and to gain the trust of patients. Needless to say, it is extremely traumatic when a complaint is filed alleging a violation of state law or Board rules. What should a psychologist who is notified of a complaint expect?
Complaints alleging psychologist misconduct are first reviewed to determine whether the Board has jurisdiction over the matter. For jurisdiction to exist, the complaint must allege a violation of the Psychologist’s Licensing Act or Board rules, the psychologist must be Board-licensed, and the services must have been performed by an agency that is non-exempt. If jurisdiction exists, the complaint is referred to a Board investigator. Written notification is provided to the psychologist, who has 30 days to respond to the complaint. At this point, the psychologist should have an experienced attorney to assist with the response to ensure that his rights are protected and the response is crafted presents the psychologist’s position in the best light.
If the investigator concludes that probable cause exists that the misconduct occurred, the psychologist will receive a notice that lists the alleged violations and the evidence uncovered during the investigation phase. The Disciplinary Review Panel will then hold an informal settlement conference at which both the complainant and the psychologist have an opportunity to speak. It is important to note that the psychologist is permitted to bring legal counsel to the conference. This is a definite plus, because the settlement conference and the information presented there is critical to the determination of the matter.
After the conference, the Panel will dismiss the complaint, return the case to the Investigator, or recommend that the psychologist receive disciplinary sanctions. The sanctions are incorporated into an agreed order, which the psychologist can sign, settling the matter. If the psychologist refuses to sign the agreed order, the case moves on to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
Sanctions imposed in the agreed order can include a reprimand, probation, license suspension, or even license revocation, depending on the nature and scope of the violations. Having a skilled attorney assist with negotiating the terms of an agreed order can impact the scope of the sanctions and is an important resource for the psychologist.
If the investigator finds that there is not probable cause that the misconduct occurred, a committee will review the investigator’s finding, and will either recommend that the complaint be dismissed or send it back to the investigator for further review. A written record of the complaint resolution is sent to the filer and the respondent.
If you have been notified that a complaint against you has been filed with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, you need an experienced Texas professional license defense attorney at your side as soon as possible. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, for help with your case.