Defending Misconduct or Unethical Conduct Complaints Before the Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors
Missouri licensed professional counselors may face complaints related to alleged misconduct or violation(s) of regulations or standards governing professional ethics or responsibility. These complaints may include allegations that, for example, a counselor engaged in a sexual relationship with a client or practiced outside of the counselor’s competence. To defend against such complaints, an attorney must have a deep understanding of the counseling profession, its rules of professional responsibility, and Missouri regulations. If you receive a complaint alleging you engaged in misconduct or unethical practice, contact Dolley Law, LLC today.
Defending Licensed Professional Counselors Against Allegations of Unethical Conduct
Unethical conduct has a specific meaning under Missouri law. Under Section 337.525 RSMo, Missouri licensed professional counselors must adhere to the ethical standards adopted by the Division of Professional Registration. These standards are codified in the Code of State Regulations and specifically govern the conduct of professional counselors. When faced with an allegation of unethical conduct, it is important to contact an attorney with the necessary background and experience as soon as possible. These cases often involve complicated statutes, regulations and standards that are difficult to navigate. The attorneys at Dolley Law, LLC have significant experience representing licensed professional counselors accused of misconduct or unethical conduct and will provide legal representation to protect your license and professional reputation.
Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors Standards in Unethical Conduct Cases
Missouri licensed professional counselors may be disciplined for misconduct or unethical conduct, including:
- Practicing outside the boundaries of his/her competence;
- Accepting remuneration that exploits the therapeutic relationship;
- Allowing the pursuit of financial gain to interfere with the exercise of sound, professional judgment and skills;
- Engaging in an exploitive relationship with a counselor-in-training or provisional licensed professional counselor;
- Engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with a counselor-in-training or provisional licensed professional counselor;
- Engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with a client or former client;
- Undertaking or continuing a therapeutic relationship with a client when the counselor’s objectivity or competency is or reasonably may be impaired;
- Misrepresenting his/her licensure status or educational credentials;
- Failure to display his/her license;
- Issues related to informed consent;
- Issues related to confidentiality of client records;
- Failure to report known or suspected violations of counseling laws and regulations to the Committee;
- Failure to maintain required client records; and
- Lack of compliance with laws, regulations, and standards regarding research.
Licensed professional counselors may face discipline for conduct that violates regulations related to professional responsibility. Alternatively, the Committee may seek discipline under another area of Missouri law, such as misconduct, fraud, misrepresentation, dishonesty, or violation of a professional trust.
When a complaint is filed with the Committee, it initially proceeds through the investigative process. This may include a written response to the complaint, a request for documents from the Committee, 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.
Complaints about misconduct and unethical conduct frequently involve sensitive personal or financial information. Counselors may be asked to produce financial records, personal communications, or client records. They may also be asked to publicly discuss and answer questions about intimate relationships and emotional, difficult counseling sessions. Counselors in this situation often do not understand their rights, how to effectively respond to these allegations, or how to publicly discuss these matters. Counselors also need to understand how their statements, records and communications affect their case and how Missouri statutes and regulations apply to the specific facts at issue. Our Firm’s attorneys will represent you during each stage of the investigation and develop a comprehensive strategy designed to effectively protect your rights, career, and reputation.
Complaints that are not dismissed after investigation enter the litigation process. The Committee may propose public discipline through a settlement agreement or may file a complaint with the Administrative Hearing Commission (“AHC”), which may ultimately result in a trial-type hearing. Counselors accused of misconduct have the right to see the evidence against them, testify on their own behalf, call 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 disciplinary hearings before the Committee 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.
If you are notified that a complaint about alleged misconduct or unethical conduct 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.