Recent Examples of Disciplinary Actions Levied by the Missouri Committee of Psychologists

The Missouri Committee of Psychologists is the governing administrative agency for psychologists in Missouri. The Missouri Committee of Psychologists (“the Committee”) regulates the practice of psychology by ensuring proper licensing by people holding themselves out to the public as psychologists, and making certain that psychologists meet proper educational requirements, as well as continuing educational guidelines. The Committee is also charged with investigating psychologists who have allegedly violated the governing rules of ethics or for other forms of misconduct. Professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger is a zealous advocate for licensees facing disciplinary actions in Missouri.

The authority to investigate psychologists is conferred by statute in Missouri. Missouri Revised Statutes section 337.035.1 et seq. delineates numerous grounds upon which the Committee may investigate for disciplinary reasons, including but not limited to ethics violations, criminal convictions, failure to pay taxes, and the like. If the Committee finds evidence of one or more grounds for discipline, then the Committee may file a complaint with the Missouri Administrative Hearings Commission. If the Hearings Commission rules that the Committee met its burden, the Hearings Commission may levy discipline.

The Hearings Commission is authorized by statute to hear the allegations brought by the Committee against the licensee. The Hearings Commission then refers the matter back to the Committee if the Committee has met its burden to prove the allegations at the hearing. The authority conferred by statute to the Committee permits discipline in the nature of censure, probation of a license with appropriate conditions not to exceed five years, suspension of a license for no longer than three years, or revocation of a license.

An examination of recent disciplinary rulings is instructive to practitioners to help assess the prevailing rationale of the Committee. In one case, the psychologist was unable to satisfy the continuing educational requirements. The Hearings Commission found that the licensee was subject to discipline as a result of that failure. The Committee placed the licensee on probation for three years with numerous conditions. The licensee indicated to the Commission that his own mental state was not stable, which caused him to fail to meet continuing educational requirements. Those conditions included submitting to an evaluation to assess the licensee’s own mental condition for fitness to practice as a psychologist.

In another decision, involving more egregious facts, the Committee and licensee entered into a stipulation for discipline. The licensee became romantically involved with a former patient. The patient had sought counseling for a period of time and then failed to keep an appointment.  The licensee failed to send a termination letter or conduct a termination session. Shortly thereafter, the licensee and patient became romantically involved. The Committee and licensee reached an agreement wherein the licensee would be suspended for three years from practice and be placed on probation for three years if the license was reinstated. The Committee ordered the psychologist to submit to a psychological assessment and attend counseling if necessary.

In a very recent decision, the Committee accepted a stipulation for a psychologist who self-reported an ethical violation. The psychologist reported that he failed to maintain appropriate notes, referrals, examination tests, and other documentation required to be maintained by Missouri law. The licensee informed the Committee that adverse working conditions prevented the necessary record keeping. The Committee and licensee entered into a stipulation that the licensee would voluntarily surrender his license, “in lieu of other discipline.”

Contact an Experienced Professional Licensing Attorney for Assistance

Even trained professionals make mistakes. Do not compound the problem by representing yourself if you face a disciplinary complaint.  Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger has helped many clients keep their licenses despite facing disciplinary action. Attorney Sanger will tirelessly advocate for you to keep your license to practice. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 for your free consultation, and learn what a difference experience makes.