Working as a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) can be emotionally draining and challenging in new ways every single day, but it is also a rewarding and meaningful profession. You have put in countless hours to earn your LPCC credentials to be able to serve clients with mental health needs, and you don’t want to give it all up or risk public discipline because of a complaint.
We understand. At Forshier Law, LLC, we represent nurses, LADCs, LPCs, LPCCs, and other healthcare professionals who are worried about disciplinary consequences or even losing their license after a complaint. Whether you’re facing disciplinary action for not meeting continuing education requirements, a client complaint, or unfounded reports and complaints, we are here to help. Barb Forshier has over 35 years of experience as a registered nurse, and over a decade as an attorney defending healthcare professionals, so she knows how the system works and what it takes to defend your license after a complaint. She understands the administrative pressures put on counselors and the ever-growing work load they face. Don’t panic; take action and contact Forshier Law, LLC today to protect your career.
Common Complaints Against LPCCs
Licensed professional clinical counselors assist patients with a wide range of mental health needs, from depression and anxiety to PTSD and personality disorders. As a result, you are likely privy to very private matters in patients’ lives. This lays the groundwork for complaints if there are any misunderstandings, miscommunications, or disputes about how to handle an issue. Complaints often made against counselors include, but are not limited to:
- Unprofessional conduct and conduct that could cause harm to the public
- Convicted of a felony or any crime which has the element of fraud or dishonesty
- Fraud in obtaining/renewing a license or passing a licensing examination
- Engaging in romantic or sexual conduct with a client
- Otherwise ignoring clinical boundaries with a client
- Receiving kickbacks for referring clients to other providers
- Failure to keep up with continuing education requirements
- Misrepresenting credentials
- Providing advice outside their scope of practice
While some counselor complaints are made because of a genuine issue or concern, there are also those that are not made in good faith. People may make complaints because a counselor won’t agree to an alternate course of treatment, attempts to help a client see their own role in their issues, or holds them accountable for missed or skipped appointments. Regardless of why a complaint is made, you must take it seriously.
How Minnesota Handles Complaints
All complaints go through the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (BBHT), which has established an official Complaint Resolution Process. The complaint first goes to the executive director, who either recommends it for investigation or sends it to the Complaint Resolution Committee for further research. The Complaint Resolution Committee can dismiss the case, close the file, or send it to the investigative stage.
During the investigation stage, the committee determines whether or not the complaint falls into their jurisdiction, request further information, or refer the case elsewhere. From there, they review available information, request further documentation if necessary, or move the process forward.
By the time a licensee meets with the Board, the claim has been investigated to some degree. The licensee’s appearance may lead to a contested case hearing, an agreement for corrective action, or a case dismissal. If the complaint is not ultimately dismissed, the Board will decide on disciplinary action.
The Board has the freedom to order any number of disciplinary actions, including:
- Revoking a license
- Suspending a license
- Placing conditions upon a license (limiting practitioners to certain areas of practice, requiring supervised work, requiring completion of certain training classes)
- Imposing a civil penalty
- Official reprimand or censure
- Choose not to grant a license or renew an existing license
Consequences of Disciplinary Action in Minnesota
Take complaints seriously. In many cases, complaints are dismissed or lead to minor disciplinary action. However, consider how even a minor disciplinary action could impact your career. Complaints and their resolutions are publicly available on the Board’s website, which could seriously impact your career options and dissuade clients from choosing you. Additionally, further complaints could yield more serious disciplinary actions if the Board has previously taken action against you.
Serious disciplinary actions, such as having your license suspended or having conditions on your license, could hinder your career development going forward. Employers are less likely to hire a practitioner with a disciplinary action on their record, and even if you keep your job, the mark on your license could limit your opportunities for promotion or growth. It’s clear that you should act decisively and quickly to defend your rights.
Protecting Your Rights as an LPCC
It may be difficult to move quickly when you receive a notice of a complaint and the Board’s decision to move forward. However, the future of your career depends on your ability to put aside your feelings and reach out to an attorney. You should not attend any Board meeting or appearance without the assistance of a licensing complaint attorney. As you attempt to explain the circumstances of the complaint or detail why you made certain choices, you run the risk of providing evidence that the Board can use against you.
With an attorney who knows the complaint process, understands what’s at stake, and knows how to get the best possible outcome for licensees, you can fight for a fair outcome. You should reach out to an attorney as soon as you a complaint has been made against you. This gives them as much time as possible to research the case against you and build your defense.
Find Out How We Can Help
If you’re facing a complaint, we want to help. At Forshier Law, LLC, we strive to help hard-working nurses and mental health professionals keep their licenses after complaints. We will support you through this process and use our years of experience to fight for a positive outcome. It all starts with a free consultation. To schedule your consultation, call us or reach out to us online. We look forward to helping you.