Expectations: Concerns about a registrant of the College with regard to communication issues, conduct, or treatment received, may be discussed directly with the registrant. If this effort is unsuccessful, patients may choose to file a complaint with the College for further investigation.
The investigation into a complaint is an objective process which includes a review of the following:
- ensuring the College’s jurisdiction to investigate a matter;
- a review of the allegations made by the complainant;
- a review of the registrant’s response to the complaint; and
- a comprehensive review of any relevant information.
Each complaint is reviewed and assessed on its own merit. The College attempts to resolve most concerns in a remedial and/or educational manner.
What we CAN do:
- The College can and will review all written complaints received.
- The College can and will take your concerns seriously and make efforts to ensure your concerns have been understood.
- The College can and will investigate all complaints within its jurisdiction, attempting to resolve the concerns raised by a review of the allegations, relevant records, discussion or correspondence with the complainant(s) and the registrant(s) involved. If concerns or issues remain after this review, the registrant may be expected to change aspects of his/her practice, undertake further education, or agree to consultation or supervision.
- The College can, where appropriate, issue a reprimand or remedial advice if there has been a failure to adhere to current standards of the College’s Code of Conduct. In circumstances where the issues are of a seriousness warranting such actions, the College can and will engage in a formal disciplinary process, the result of which may be imposition of limitations or conditions on registrant’s practice or suspension of the registrant’s registration with the College. Substantial evidence of a significant degree of misconduct or incompetence or impaired fitness is required for such action.
What we CANNOT do:
- The College cannot provide financial compensation to patients.
- The College cannot provide clinical opinions, a diagnosis, or treatment recommendations.
- The College cannot direct any other agency or institution (such as the Courts, WorkSafeBC, or ICBC) to change their decisions.
- The College cannot deal with concerns or complaints about any health care providers who are not registrants of the College of Psychologists of BC.
- The College cannot contact the police on behalf of a patient where illegal activities are suspected without the patient’s specific consent.
- The College cannot take any action on complaints without ensuring that the registrant has had the opportunity to respond.
- The College does not set the fee rates for registrants.
Range of Complaint Outcomes
There is a range of possible outcomes when a complaint investigation is commenced.
In cases where a complaint investigation does not demonstrate sufficient evidence to make the case that the conduct of the registrant has not been satisfactory, the Inquiry Committee may decide to take no further action under Section 33(6)(a) of the Act.
Examples of typical outcomes for complaints where some action is warranted (under Section 33(6)(b) or (c)) include the following:
- providing advice to the registrant on how to improve his/her conduct or practice; including the requirement to take educational courses;
- request that the registrant come to the College for an interview;
- provide guidance and reminders to registrants on expected standards of care through communication in its official publications;
- warn the registrant that, if similar conduct occurs again, more serious disciplinary action may be considered;
- order a general review of the registrant’s practice; and/or
- request that the registrant sign an Agreement which includes specific measures addressing the concerns such as agreeing to a period of consultation or supervision.
In cases where serious concerns remain and other attempts by the Committee to resolve the matter have been unsuccessful, the Inquiry Committee may direct the Registrar to issue a citation. The citation gives notice to the registrant of a formal hearing before the Discipline Committee.
Discipline Hearing: If the Inquiry Committee has serious concerns that remain unresolved, then a formal disciplinary hearing may be held. In many ways, it is like a trial. Complainants might be required to give evidence under oath. The hearing panel has a number of options available to it should it decide that disciplinary action is necessary. The College of Psychologists publishes information about disciplinary decisions in its annual report and on its website.