Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Discuses Addiction Counselor Ethics

Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Discuses Addiction Counselor Ethics

With the high number of people addicted to some form substance in this country, people need a place to turn for help. Addiction counselors can provide the help a person needs to kick their habit. The Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (the Board) issues licenses to addiction counselors. The Board possesses authority to discipline a licensee who violates Kansas law or the Board’s regulations. Consequently, licensees must be vigilant in maintaining an ethical practice. Addiction counselors serve a very vulnerable population who are in a compromised situation because of their addiction. Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger zealously defends addiction counselors facing discipline before the Board.

Kansas’ state statute authorizes the Board to discipline an addiction counselor’s license for any number of reasons. The statute authorizes the Board to deny licensure or license renewal for the same reasons. The statute grants the Board discretion to revoke a license, suspend a license, deny an application for a license, refuse to re-issue a license, limit a license, or place conditions of practice upon a license if the licensee runs afoul of the statute.

A general reading of the statute proves that the rules are designed to protect the public from unethical or unscrupulous practices by an addiction counselor.  The statute also endeavors to protect the consuming public from the negligence of an addiction counselor as well. The Board may discipline a licensee if the licensee becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol and the counselor’s substance abuse problem negatively affects the counselor’s ability to practice.  Additionally, the Board may discipline an addiction counselor for committing a fraud, deceit,  or misrepresentation of fact in obtaining an addiction counselor’s license.  Furthermore, the Board may take adverse action against a licensee if the counselor was convicted of a felony charge. In that instance, the Board must make an independent investigation to ascertain whether the licensee is rehabilitated to be worthy of the public’s trust. Notwithstanding, Kansas’ regulations permit the Board to take adverse action if any criminal conviction related to the practice of the addiction counseling.

The Board has authority to sanction an addiction counselor for other reasons. The Board may discipline an addiction counselor for committing fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in the performance of their duties as an addiction counselor. Dishonesty in the profession is another ground for discipline. The statute does not closely define dishonesty. However, one can expect that the Board would discipline a licensee for dishonest act ranging from dishonest communications with a patient to dishonest billing practices.

The Board can discipline a licensee for incompetence as well. The Board has a vested interest in making certain all of its addiction counselors are competent to serve the public. Also, the Board must ensure that practitioners are mentally and physically competent to perform the tasks required by the profession.  The Board cannot take adverse action against a licensee in this instance unless the mental or physical frailties of the counselor negatively affect the person’s ability to competently perform their function as an addiction counselor.  Additionally, Kansas’ regulations require an addiction counselor to stop practicing or seek treatment if their stress, personal problems, or other difficulties interfere with their professional judgment or ability to act in the patient’s best interests. In addition, the counselor is forbidden from taking advantage of their patient or exercising undue influence over them. This prohibition includes engaging in any romantic or sexual relationship with their patients. Moreover, addiction counselors must maintain the strictest level of counselor-patient confidentiality.

Addiction Counselors Need Help Too

Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger understands the personal sacrifice an addiction counselor must make to become licensed and maintain an ethical practice. Even the most scrupulous and careful make mistakes. Do not allow one mistake to derail your career. Call Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your free consultation.