California Board of Psychology
Defense of Licensed Psychologists
Our attorneys have experience representing licensed psychologists facing investigations and disciplinary proceedings before the California Board of Psychology.
The Board of Psychology receives complaints about licensees from consumers, professional societies, law enforcement agencies, and other governmental agencies. In addition to these sources, the board also receives information regarding misconduct via mandatory self-reporting and regular auditing of licensees.
The following represent the most common allegations made against licensed psychologists:
- Sexual contact with a patient
- Violating the patient’s confidentiality
- Providing services for which the individual has not been trained or licensed
- Drug abuse
- Fraud or other crimes
- False advertising
- Paying or accepting payment for patient referral
- Unprofessional, unethical, or negligent acts
- Focusing therapy on the licensee’s/registrant’s own problems, rather than the patient’s
- Serving in multiple roles, i.e., having social relationships with patients, lending them money, employing them, etc.
- Failure to comply with mandatory reporting requirements
Notably, the California Board of Psychology does not have jurisdiction over billing disputes or general business practices.
Review, investigation, and recommendation process
When the board receives notice of unprofessional conduct, board staff may conduct an investigation to determine if it constitutes either a minor or more serious violation. After the investigation, in the case of minor violations, the board may confidentially close the case, issue an educational letter, invite the licensee to a voluntary educational review, or issue a citation and fine.
Where the board finds more serious violations, the case may be referred to a deputy attorney general for a formal disciplinary action. The attorney general’s office may file an accusation or, in the case of an applicant, a statement of issues, which initiates a formal hearing process under the California Administrative Procedures Act.
Penalties imposed at the administrative hearing stage may include a letter of reproval, probation, license suspension, an interim suspension order, surrender of license, or license revocation.
While each situation is unique, it is generally wise to engage counsel before responding to the board’s investigator or a request for information. Answering questions, providing documents or evidence, or agreeing to other actions without counsel can be risky. As a licensed psychologist, you have important statutory and constitutional rights as well as complex legal duties to your clients. Immediately seeking advice from an attorney experienced with the California Board of Psychology helps to defend your reputation, your business, and your career.