The Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapy (NSCCT) is the public-interest regulator for Registered Counselling Therapists (RCTs) and Registered Counselling Therapist Candidates (RCT-Cs) in the Province. NSCCT registers and licenses counselling therapists, and is mandated by the Counselling Therapists Act and the Counselling Therapist Regulations to accept, investigate and adjudicated complaints brought forward against a registrant of the College by:
- A client
- A fellow registrant
- Another health professional
- Any member of the public
- An organization or employer
- The Executive Director/Registrar of the College
A COMPLAINT is an expression of concern about the conduct or actions of a Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) or a Registered Counselling Therapist-Candidate (RCT-C) related to the care provided or other aspects of the professional counselling relationship. Complaints often allege that the Counselling Therapist did not meet the standards expected by the College, other members of the profession or the public.
The Complaints Committee reviews complaints about:
- Professional Misconduct
- Conduct Unbecoming the Profession
Note: It is not your responsibility to determine which category your complaint falls under. This will be done by the registrar and/or the Chair of the Complaints Committee.
You can SUBMIT A COMPLAINT by filling out the Complaint Form (F-08.0) which asks you to provide the following information:
- Your name, address, phone number and email
- Name of the counselling therapist (if known) against whom you are filing the complaint
(if you have a complaint against more than one therapist, you must fill out a separate complaint form for each person identified in the complaint)
- Date and description of the event or events
- Name and contact information of any witnesses (if known)
- Copies of any documents or other evidence supporting the complaint
Note: You can also submit a complaint on behalf of another person with their authorization, or for a person for which you hold Power of Attorney. A complaint can also be filed on behalf of a deceased person.
In some cases, MORE THAN ONE HEALTH PROFESSION may be involved in a complaint. When this occurs, the College can assist you in the process of filing a complaint with more than one regulatory body at the same time by contacting Executive Director & Registrar.
The Counselling Therapists Act requires strict CONFIDENTIALITY by the College as well as by the complainant and the respondent throughout the process except as required by the College to conduct a fair and transparent investigation and review of the complaint.
Section 42(1) of the Act, states:
All complaints received or under investigation, all information gathered in the course of the professional conduct process and all proceedings and decisions of the Complaints Committee and the Professional Conduct Committee that are not open to or available to the public in accordance with this Act or the regulations must be kept confidential by the person or persons who possess such information.
Specific exceptions include:
- Information shared with the respondent or their legal representative
- Notification of other health professions regulators
- Notification of possible criminal activity to law enforcement agencies
- Such other disclosure consistent with the College’s obligation to protect the public
Please note that there is NO FEE for filling a complaint with the College.
It is NEVER TOO LATE to file a complaint. Although it is always better to file a complaint close to when the events occurred (evidence is easier to gather, memories are clearer), there is no legal time-frame in which a complaint must be filed.
IF YOU ARE UNCERTAIN whether a concern you have is grounds for a complaint, please contact the Executive Director & Registrar for advice. Contacting the College to ask questions or to seek guidance does not mean you are filing a complaint. Complaints must be submitted in writing. All inquiries are kept confidential. If your complaint involves more than one health care provider, the College will help you to connect with the right resources.
If you require assistance in filling out the Complaint Form, or with any other aspect of filing a complaint, please contact the Administrative Coordinator.
1. When your COMPLAINT IS RECEIVED by the College, the Registrar 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.
You will then be provided with a written summary of your complaint so that you can verify its accuracy.
The Registrar will decide if the College has the legal authority/jurisdiction to address the complaint.
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 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: 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.
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.
Please submit your complaint using Complaint Form (F-08.0) directly to the Executive Director & Registrar
or by mail to:
Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapy
201-1 Kingswood Dr.
Hammonds Plains, NS, B4B 0P4