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How to Avoid Complaints Against Your Psychologist License


Psychologists are in a unique position where they diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Their patients confide in them, and as a result, the two build a relationship on trust.

This may cause one party to develop strong feelings for the other. In fact, the top malpractice offense in the psychology field is sexual activity between the parties.

Even when the psychologist refuses to engage in a relationship with a patient, it can lead to an uncomfortable situation with hurt feelings and misunderstandings. It can be difficult for psychologists—especially newer ones—to know what to do to handle the situation appropriately.

Over a 20-year career, 40 percent of psychologists will receive a complaint against their license. You can avoid this situation by following these tips.

Understand and Avoid Multiple Relationships 

A multiple relationship occurs when you have more than one relationship with a client. Your client should only be your client, not a romantic interest, friend, family member, neighbor, housekeeper or anything else. You should not know your client outside of the office. When this happens, the possibility of a board complaint increases.

Preventing multiple relationships should extend to social media as well. Do not allow a client to request to be your friend on Facebook. Likewise, do not follow your clients on social media. This can compromise confidentiality and affect the status of your license.

Get Insurance

If you are covered by an employer, make sure you know what the insurance covers and what your liability limits are. If you have a private practice, think about the type of coverage you need based on your patients. Increase your coverage if you often deal with patients who are severely mentally ill, since these types of patients tend to file board complaints often.

Set Guidelines

If you are a therapist for children, do not try to get in the middle of a client’s parents’ divorce battle. Psychologists should not be taking sides. They need to focus on treating the client.

Let your clients know up front what you can and cannot do. Use an informed consent that outlines how technology—such as texts and emails—will be used.

Engage in Professional Organizations

By belonging to your state psychological association, you will become aware of any changes in laws that can affect how you practice. Plus, you have a resource available if you have questions about an ethical situation or need to know about continuing education or recordkeeping requirements.

Keep Your License with Help From a Tampa Psychologist Licensing Lawyer 

In the field of psychology, there’s a fine line between helping patients and crossing boundaries. It’s important to stay professional at all times and understand the laws when treating patients.

If you are a psychologist accused of an ethical issue, your psychologist license could be threatened. Your license is your livelihood, so don’t throw it away needlessly. Get legal representation from the Law Offices of David P. Rankin, P.A. I am a Tampa administrative lawyer who focuses on licensing issues for psychologists and other professionals. Contact my office today for a consultation by calling (813) 968-6633.