Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger Discusses Ethical Violations in the Psychology Profession

Psychologists are highly respected members of their communities. In turn, they are expected to live up to a very high ethical standard. I frequently advise psychologists about their professional obligations and the best ways to avoid allegations of impropriety. Because psychologists are entrusted with confidential information, money, and private physical access to patients, there are many opportunities for a disgruntled former client or colleague to make an allegation of wrongdoing. As a result, it is essential to avoid situations where these sort of accusations could arise.

If you are a psychologist in Kansas or Missouri facing an ethics investigation, call attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation. Do not agree to speak with an investigator without an experienced attorney by your side. Your career, reputation, and livelihood are at risk, and the challenge facing you is one you cannot navigate alone.

Attain Informed Consent

At the outset of your professional relationship with a new client, you must attain his or her “informed consent,” meaning you must provide sufficient information regarding the parameters of confidentiality, record keeping practices, your expertise and training, services you do and do not offer, expected duration of therapy, the patient’s right to end treatment, and fees and billing practices. Failing to provide this information in writing often leads to miscommunication and complaints later.

Understand Appropriate Relationship Boundaries

You have been taught the rules regarding relationship boundaries.  However, we are all human, and relationships tend to evolve in complex and surprising ways.  Never have a romantic or physical relationship with a patient.  Similarly, you should never see a family member, business associate, or close friend as a patient.  While it may seem harmless at the time when this line is crossed, I tend to see complaints come later, when the romantic or business relationship dissolves and feelings are raw.

Stay Within Your Area of Expertise

While it may be tempting to help someone out with a problem outside your area of expertise, it is not a wise decision to do so.  If you practice outside your area of expertise, you are exposing yourself to possible complaints that you lacked competency to handle your client’s problems.

Follow the rules Regarding Confidentiality

Follow the APA Ethics Code regarding confidentiality.  Whether you live in a major city or small town, disclosing a client’s confidential treatment information to anyone is a significant breach of ethics.  Even if this information is formally requested from you, your ethical duty is only to disclose as little information as possible.

Practice Ethical and Transparent Billing Practices

Accurately bill your client and insurers.  Keep careful, accurate records of bills and supply duplicate copies upon request.  Do not provide services that you do not bill for, and do not let patients pay for services that their insurance companies do not cover.

Know How and When to Terminate the Therapeutic Relationship

As you know, it is your ethical duty to terminate treatment if the client has ceased benefiting from your treatment. Similarly, if your client is no longer benefiting from treatment, you must also end your professional relationship. In these situations, you must clearly explain why your ongoing treatment is no longer appropriate. If another provider can help the patient, make a referral.  While these are sensitive conversations that you will have face-to-face with your client to avoid any feelings of rejection, you should document them thoroughly in your notes and a follow-up letter to the patient so that there is no miscommunication.

Contact an Experienced Kansas and Missouri Licensing Attorney Now

As a psychologist, you have worked extremely hard to attain your license and the respect of your community.  An inquiry from a licensing board regarding your professional actions and decisions means that your livelihood is in jeopardy. If an investigation ensues, you will need help in gathering and organizing evidence, hiring expert witnesses, cross-examining witnesses, among other tasks.  Contacting an experienced licensing attorney to help you through this process and can mean the difference between getting back to serving your clients and losing your career forever.

Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger is prepared to advocate for your best interests and defend you. Call Attorney Sanger at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney experienced dealing with licensing issues.