Watch the video tutorial NSCCT Complaints
1. When your COMPLAINT IS RECEIVED by the College, the Executive Director & Registrar (EDR) will review the material and open a complaints file under the name of the respondent. It will be given a unique identification number that will be used to mark and record all documents and correspondence pertaining to your complaint.
The EDR will decide if the College has the legal authority/jurisdiction to address the complaint.
Note: Once you have filed an official complaint, you will technically be referred to as the complainant in all official correspondence from the College.
The therapist who is the subject of your complaint will be referred to as the respondent.
2. If the complaint is within the authority/jurisdiction of the College, the RESPONDENT WILL BE NOTIFIED of the complaint in writing. The respondent will be provided with a copy of the complaint and will be given 30 days to submit a written response. During this period the respondent may decide to appoint a legal representative.
3. The respondent’s written response, including any evidence they provide, will be organized by the Registrar and submitted, along with your original complaint and supporting materials, to the COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE.
The Chair of the Complaints Committee will review the complaint and appoint a panel consisting of 3 members of the Committee including:
- the Chair or Vice Chair
- an active-practicing Counselling Therapist
- a public representative
Prior to an investigation, the Complaints Committee may decide to dismiss the complaint if one or more of the following apply:
- The College does not have the legal authority to consider the complaint
- The complaint is considered to be frivolous or an abuse of the complaints process
- The complaint is not a matter of professional misconduct, incapacity, incompetence or conduct unbecoming the profession
4. The Complaints Committee may determine that an INVESTIGATION is necessary to gather additional information, in which case an investigator may be appointed to:
- Request additional written information from you, the respondent or witnesses
- Request an interview with you, the respondent or witnesses
- Investigate any other matters that arise in regard to the respondent during the investigation of the complaint
5. The Complaints Committee then will meet to REVIEW all the evidence available concerning the complaint, including the investigator’s report, and to determine an appropriate outcome, which may include any of the following:
5.1 Dismiss the complaint if:
- The complaint is not substantiated by the evidence available to the Committee
5.2 Informally resolve the complaint
5.3 Consider a proposed Settlement Agreement, and:
- Recommend acceptance of an Agreement
- Recommend changes to an Agreement
- Reject an Agreement
5.4 Provide a Non-Sanction remedy:
- Counsel the respondent
- Caution the respondent
5.5 Provide a Sanction remedy:
- Reprimand the respondent
- Suspend the license of a respondent or their ability to obtain a license
- Impose conditions or restrictions on the respondent’s license
5.6 Forward the complaint to the Professional Conduct Committee if the complaint cannot be resolved at the level of the Complaints Committee and a formal hearing is required.
A professional conduct hearing works much like a trial, with sworn testimony and legal submissions by a prosecutor acting on behalf of the College, and a lawyer representing the respondent. If the complaint is sent to the Professional Conduct Committee for a hearing, you are at that point no longer the complainant. The College becomes the formal complainant and charges are filed against the respondent; although you may be called as a witness at the hearing, and any of the evidence you provided to the Complaints Committee may be used by the College in presenting its case.
Note: The College is not legally authorized to determine or provide a financial settlement. The College’s jurisdiction covers only remedies associated with the registration and licensing of Counselling Therapists. If you seek financial compensation from a counselling therapist, you should obtain qualified legal advice. This can be done at any point before, during or after the complaint has been reviewed by the College.
6. Both you and the respondent will receive a written NOTICE OF DECISION outlining in detail the findings of the Complaints Committee and any action taken against the Counselling Therapist.
Note: It is important to be aware that there is no standard time-frame within which a complaint is typically resolved. While the College attempts to resolve each complaint in a timely fashion, the time it takes to conduct a fair and thorough investigation varies with the complexity of the case. A complaint that involves serious professional conduct issues may require a year or more to complete. Furthermore, complaints are prioritized by the risk to the public posed by the behaviour alleged in the complaint, not on when they are received by the College. The College will keep you informed at each step of the process and you are always welcome to contact the Executive Director & Registrar for updates or to have your questions answered.