Every day you focus on your patients’ needs, help them navigate difficult life changes, and work with them to develop coping strategies. Despite the commitment you display to your career and to your clients, you may find yourself increasingly stressed as the government places increasing restrictions and demands on your practice. Having a complaint filed against you is devastating and will significantly add to your already stressful practice.
We know that you’re worried and that you aren’t sure about the future of your career. You are not alone. A surprising number of mental health care professionals receive at least one complaint during the course of their career, so do not panic. Many complaints are the result of misunderstandings and miscommunications, and they eventually result in a dismissal.
At Forshier Law, LLC, we understand how frightening these complaints are and how concerned you will be about losing a career to which you’ve committed your life to pursuing. Barb Forshier worked as a nurse for more than 35 years and has over a decade of experience representing healthcare professionals. As an attorney, she is committed to ensuring that licensees are treated fairly during Board hearings and that hard-working professionals have a chance to continue their careers. If you’re wondering what to do after receiving notice of a formal complaint, call Forshier Law, LLC at 612-236-5261 to schedule a free evaluation.
License Complaints Against LPCs
Many complaints made against LPCs in Minnesota are based on common ethical violations outlined by the American Psychological Association. LPCs may face disciplinary action for:
- Maintaining dual relationships with clients, which includes being clients’ friends, business contacts, or romantic partners
- Violating confidentiality
- Failing to obtain informed consent
- Using trainees without informing clients
- Confusion about a counselor’s role
- Providing care that is outside their scope of practice
- Fraudulent billing practices
- Providing treatment that is unethical or against a patient’s best interests
If you look at Minnesota statutes regarding LPCs, you’ll see that many of these laws mirror the APA’s ethical guidelines. If a complaint indicates that you have violated a Minnesota statute, you could face an investigation and disciplinary actions.
What a Complaint Means for Your License
Whether a complaint is true or not, your first concern is whether or not you will be able to keep your license. License revocation is obviously the most severe disciplinary action taken by the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy in response to a complaint. License revocation in one state typically bars you from receiving a license in another state, which would effectively end your counseling career. Additionally, having this sort of black mark on your record would likely prevent you from pursuing any another career within the field of mental health.
However, even if a violation is not severe enough to warrant license revocation, other disciplinary actions can still impact your career. If a complaint leads to any disciplinary action, whether it’s as minor as a reprimand or as serious as a suspension, it will be publicly available. All actions taken are listed on the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy website. This may drive clients away, make you less employable, or limit your opportunities for promotions. Additionally, you may find that disciplinary actions drive up the cost of your professional liability insurance.
It’s overwhelming to think that one complaint could permanently alter the course of your career, but it’s important to take action instead of dwelling on what could happen. Taking steps to defend yourself and protect your license is crucial.
Preparing Your Defense
When you receive notice of a complaint filed against you, you should immediately get in touch with a license defense attorney. Some mental health professionals worry that hiring an attorney makes them look guilty or indicates that they have something to hide. This is not true; it simply shows that you understand the gravity of the complaint resolution process and that you know what is at stake. When you consult with your license defense attorney, provide copies of all documentation you have received and any other information they request. Full honesty is necessary if you want them to fight effectively on your behalf. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you can begin working toward a positive resolution to the complaint against you.
Do not speak to the licensing board without an attorney. We know that you want to settle the complaint, explain your side, and clear up any misunderstandings. However, without legal assistance, you risk saying something that actually strengthens the case against you.
Minnesota’s Complaint Resolution Process
Minnesota has a straightforward complaint resolution process that is used to handle complaints against LPCs, LPCCs, LADCs, and other mental health professionals. The complaint is passed to the Complaint Resolution Committee. The committee investigates the claim, gathers evidence, and looks into different resolution methods. The licensee appears before the Complaint Resolution Committee and either agrees to corrective action or gets a hearing before the licensing board.
At each step of the process, the complaint may be dismissed and the file closed. This is the ideal outcome.
Time is of the Essence—Protect Your Career and Future
As you prepare to navigate this difficult stage in your career, it is essential to have trustworthy, experienced legal counsel. Not only is Barb Forshier well-versed in this area of law and the needs of health care providers, she understands the stress that you’re under as you worry about your career. Forshier Law, LLC utilizes a flat fee structure that allows you to e-mail or call for updates without increasing your legal expenses.
When you choose Forshier Law, LLC, you can feel confident that we will always be honest with you. When we take your case, we will discuss possible consequences and come up with an effective plan to protect your license, career, and reputation. Get started now. To set up a free phone consultation, contact us today.