Defending Counseling Practice Complaints Before the Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors
Missouri licensed professional counselors often face complaints related to their counseling practice. These complaints may be filed by clients, colleagues, employers, or even third parties. Receiving a complaint that criticizes your professional abilities and competence can be difficult for even the most experienced counselor. If you receive a complaint alleging you engaged in improper practice as a counselor, contact Dolley Law, LLC today.
Defending Licensed Professional Counselors Against Practice-Related Complaints
Professional counselors understand that the nature of their work can lead to unfounded complaints about their practice. Counselors work with individuals suffering from addiction, mental illness, and other disorders. Many clients have experienced trauma or are in fragile emotional states. Counselors may not be able to resolve a client’s issues in the manner or on the timeline the client wants, leading the client to file a complaint with the Committee.
The Committee investigates each complaint, meaning the counselor will have to respond in writing, produce documents, be interviewed, and potentially meet with the Committee, even if the complaint is ultimately dismissed. Counselors need representation from an attorney who understands the counseling profession and its challenges, as well as Missouri law and legal procedure, during this process. The Firm’s attorneys have extensive experience defending practice-related complaints and have obtained favorable results for many Missouri licensed professionals.
Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors Standards in Practice-Related Cases
Missouri licensed professional counselors may receive practice-related complaints for:
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain a fee by fraud, deception, or misrepresentation;
- Violation of counseling regulations; and
- Violation of a professional trust or confidence.
Most counselors rightfully take pride in their professional ability and the therapy and services they provide to clients. Many went into the profession to help people and continue working in difficult environments because of this desire to help people. Allegations of improper practice are among the most difficult and personal accusations counselors face because their basic competence is being questioned, often after the fact upon receipt of a complaint. These cases are often emotionally trying and involve complex questions of fact and law. Counselors must retroactively explain their actions (or inaction) in stressful and complex sessions, sometimes months or years after the fact. In such circumstances, it is easy to get discouraged, question one’s own decisions and professional abilities, and feel helpless in the face of a practice-related complaint from the Committee.
When a complaint is filed with the Committee, it initially proceeds through the investigative process. The Committee requires a written response to the complaint and may ask for documents, an interview with an investigator, and a meeting with the Committee. Dolley Law, LLC will represent you at each stage of the investigation and ensure your rights are protected.
If the complaint proceeds to litigation before the Administrative Hearing Commission (“AHC”), a counselor may ultimately have a trial-type hearing in which the Committee must introduce evidence and prove its case. Counselors have the right to see the evidence against them, testify on their own behalf, call witnesses, cross examine the Committee’s witnesses, and present evidence. If a counselor successfully defends against the Committee’s allegations, the case ends with a finding that the counselor is not subject to discipline.
If a counselor is found subject to discipline, there is a second hearing before the Committee to determine what, if any, discipline is appropriate. Dolley Law, LLC represents clients in both hearings and presents mitigating evidence and legal arguments on their behalf. The Firm’s attorneys also counsel and advise clients on settlement agreement terms and the appropriate course of action for each case.
When facing these allegations, Missouri licensed professional counselors need an advocate who understands counseling practice and Missouri law. The Committee must meet certain factual and evidentiary standards to prove its case. Documentary evidence and testimony are almost always involved, and expert witness testimony may be required. In certain situations, a single incident may not make a counselor subject to discipline. Knowledge and understanding of the relevant law and counseling practice are critical.
If you are notified that a counseling-practice-related complaint has been made against your Missouri professional counselor’s license, contact Dolley Law, LLC to obtain experienced legal counsel to address the situation by calling (314) 645-4100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.