Filing a Complaint

The NSCCT is the organization that licenses and regulates counselling therapists in Nova Scotia. It is authorized to do so by provincial legislation. The NSCCT ensures the public that all counselling therapists in Nova Scotia have the education and skills they need to care for people safely, competently, and ethically.

What can I do if I have a concern?
Talking with your counselling therapist and/or their manager can often resolve your concern. If you cannot resolve your concern, please contact the registrar at registrar@nscct.ca. Contacting the college to ask questions does not mean you are filing a complaint. All questions are kept confidential. If more than one health care provider is involved, the college will help you to connect with the right resources. If you are unsure if your concern can be addressed by us, please contact us.

How do I file a complaint?
The NSCCT prefers a written complaint. We offer assistance in filling the complaint if needed. If you need help, please contact Brittany at info@nscct.ca. All complaints must be signed by the complainant.

The information needed in a complaint includes:
• your name, address, and phone number
• name of Counselling Therapist involved, if known
• description of the event(s)
• the event date(s)
• names of witnesses, if known
• copies of any documents that support your complaint
• Authorization to Submit Complaint (if submitting for someone else)
• Copy of power of attorney (if submitting for someone else)

Please submit your complaint to the Registrar, registrar@nscct.ca.

How will my information be shared?
The College requires confidentiality during the complaints and investigation process. This applies to everyone involved.

The College ensures that information is kept confidential. There are certain exceptions to this rule, including those set out in the Counselling Therapists Act. This includes disclosure to law enforcement or to other regulators as appropriate, or such other disclosure that is consistent with the College’s obligation to protect the public.

For a fair process, we must share some or all of the information about the complaint with the Counselling Therapist and their legal representative. This could include copies of documents or information received from you or other sources. The College also asks the complainant and the Counselling Therapist to avoid speaking publicly about a complaint while it is under investigation. In some instances, we must share certain information with other witnesses, to the extent that is required to conduct a thorough investigation.

What happens after my complaint is submitted?
When the College receives a complaint, they will provide you with a written summary so you can verify its accuracy. The College will then decide if they have legal authority to address the complaint. If they do, a copy of the complaint will be provided to the Counselling Therapist requesting a response. Both the complaint and the response will be reviewed by the College to determine how it will be addressed. The NSCCT may decide:

1. A full investigation is not required, and the complaint is dismissed because:
• The College does not have the legal authority to consider the complaint
• The complaint is considered frivolous or an abuse of the complaints process
• The complaint is not professional misconduct, incompetence, a Code of Ethics violation, or conduct unbecoming of a Counselling Therapist. The College will inform you about its decision in writing with reasons.

2. The College Registrar will refer the complaint to the Complaints Committee. The College will inform you about its decision in writing. The Complaints Committee will appoint an investigator who may do the following:
• Request additional written information from you, the Counselling Therapist involved, and others such as witnesses
• Request an interview with you, the Counselling Therapist involved, and others such as witnesses
• Investigate any matters relating to the Counselling Therapist that may arise in addition to the complaint

3. The investigator will provide a report to the Complaints Committee. The Complaints Committee may then decide to:
• Dismiss the complaint as unsubstantiated
• Issue a reprimand to the Counselling Therapist
• Require the Counselling Therapist to undertake specific requirements such as education or counselling
• Refer the complaint to the Complaints Committee

The College will inform you about its decision in writing.

For a detailed, legal description of the complaint process, please read the Counselling Therapists Act, starting at Section 31 and the Regulations, starting at Section 24.

Is There a Time Limit to File a Complaint?
There is no time limit to file a complaint. It is better to file a complaint sooner than later. The more time that passes the harder it is to investigate a complaint.

Who Can File a Complaint?
Any member of the public, Counselling Therapists or an organization can file a complaint. The Registrar of NSCCT may also file a complaint.

Can I file for Someone Else?
Yes. You can make a complaint about the care provided to another person, such as a family member or loved one. The NSCCT needs to know that you are legally  allowed to make the complaint. Private health information may be shared in the complaints process. This information is only shared with those involved in the complaints process who are bound by confidentiality agreements.

If you are helping someone file a complaint who can provide consent, the College needs proof of consent from the patient.

If you are filing a complaint for someone who cannot provide consent you must provide proof that you have legal decision-making
authority.

A complaint can be filed with the NSCCT whether the patient in question is alive or deceased.

What Should I Do if There is More Than One Health Care Profession Involved?
Complaints sometimes involve more than one health profession. When they do, there is a process to help. This process allows an individual to ‘tell their story’ only once. With your permission the regulatory bodies will work together to investigate the complaint. If your complaint involves more than one health profession, please contact the Registrar at registrar@nscct.ca.

Does the Complaint Cost Anything?
There is no fee for filing a complaint.

Does the NSCCT Award Financial Compensation?
No, the College does not have legal authority to award financial compensation. People seeking financial compensation should seek legal advice.

What Happens if There is a Hearing?
At this point, the College becomes the formal complainant and charges are filed against the Counselling Therapist. The hearing process is similar to a trial, with sworn evidence and legal submissions by a prosecutor acting for the College and a lawyer representing the Counselling Therapist. You may be called to testify as witnesses.

What are Possible Outcomes of a Complaint?
In some cases, the matter may be resolved with a settlement agreement. Hearing committee decisions can range from dismissal of the complaint to removal of the Counselling Therapist from practice.

How Long Does the Process Take?
Thorough and fair investigations take time. The College makes every effort to resolve complaints as quickly as possible. There is no set time limit for resolving a complaint and the College takes every complaint seriously. If a complaint is complicated or involves serious professional conduct issues, it may take a year or longer to complete the investigation. The College will notify you in writing of the ongoing status of your complaint.