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Complaints Procedure

The Bowlby Centre Complaints Procedure

1 PURPOSES

1.1 To protect clients and other relevant persons from unprofessional or unethical behaviour by any Member or Trainee of The Bowlby Centre.

1.2 To protect Members and Trainees of The Bowlby Centre by the provision of a clear, independent and impartial. procedure for the investigation and resolution of allegations of misconduct.

1.3 To protect The Bowlby Centre, its Members, Trainees, and the profession of psychotherapy from unprofessional conduct by any Member or Trainee.

 

PROCEDURE

2.1.Introduction

2.1.1 The Bowlby Centre recognises that it is important to have clear and fair procedures to deal with complaints about possible breaches of the Code of Ethics. The Bowlby Centre welcomes any feedback which can help it to monitor and improve standards and sees any complaint as an opportunity for learning for the organisation.

2.1.2 If a client is dissatisfied with their therapist, it is recommended as a first step that the client discuss this with the therapist, in an attempt to resolve matters. If this does not work, or for whatever reason it is not possible or appropriate, the client may put a complaint in writing to the Chair of the Investigating Committee. Complaints may be addressed to the Chair of the Investigating Committee directly or at the Registered Office of The Bowlby Centre.

2.1.3 Any complaint should be made as soon as possible and must be made within three years of the ending of the professional relationship that is the subject of the complaint.

2.1.4 Any person may make a complaint about the conduct of a psychotherapist in accordance with this procedure.

2.1.5 Where a complaint is made by a person other than the client, the Investigating Committee will ascertain whether it is made with the client’s consent before proceeding to consider the complaint. If the complaint is made without the client’s consent, the Investigating Committee will, save in exceptional circumstances, seek the client’s consent before deciding whether to proceed with the matter.

 

2.1.6 Where a complaint is made against the express wishes of the client

[or without the client’s consent] the Investigating Committee will only proceed to investigate the matter or find that there is a case to answer if it is satisfied that it is in the interests of either the client, or the profession, or the public that the complaint should be heard.

 

2.1.7 Where a complaint is made by a third party the Investigating Committee will have due regard to the interests of the client in its conduct of the investigation and its deliberations. In particular, the procedures set out below shall be adapted to ensure that no confidential information relating to the client or his therapy is passed to a third party [other than those persons or bodies charged with responsibilities for the investigation or determination of complaints or appeals under this procedure or the UKCP procedure] without the client’s consent.

2.1.8. A complaint against a psychotherapist who is a member of The Bowlby Centre may

be made on one or more of the following grounds:-.

2.1.8.1 s/he has been guilty of conduct falling short of the standard of conduct required of a member of The Bowlby Centre as set out in the Code of Ethics;

2.1.8.2 s/he has been convicted in the UK of a criminal offence;

2.1.83 her/his ability to practise as a psychotherapist is seriously impaired because of her/his physical or mental condition.

2.1.9 The Bowlby Centre is sensitive to the potential vulnerability of those who become party to complaints. The Investigating Committee will take reasonable steps to identify for both complainants and persons complained against a member of The Bowlby Centre to offer support and guidance on the use of the procedures.

2.1.10 The Bowlby Centre will not hear a complaint where the complainant has made it clear that legal action is to be brought against the Psychotherapist or where the Psychotherapist is the subject of criminal proceedings in relation to the subject matter of the complaint.

2:1.11 It is in the interests of all the parties that confidentiality is maintained in relation to the proceedings.

2.1.12 At all stages, extension to the time limits laid down in these rules of procedure is at the discretion of The Chair of the Investigating Committee or the Chair of the Ethics Committee.

2.2. Initial Procedure.

 

2.2.1

Complaints are to be made to The Chair of the Investigating Committee by recorded delivery to the The Bowlby Centre Administrators, marked private and confidential and supported by any accompanying documentation. The committees will also respond by recorded delivery.

2.2.2 The following will not be eligible to participate in the Investigating Committee’s consideration of a complaint: partners and those who have had a therapy, supervision, or tutorial relationship with either the complainant or psychotherapist, or who is closely acquainted with or interested in either of the parties or the subject matter of the complaint.

2.2.3. The Chair of the Investigating Committee is to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and forward the complaint to the Psychotherapist. Copies of the Code of Ethics, this Procedure, and the current UKCP Appeal Procedure will be sent to the complainant and the psychotherapist.

2.2.4. The Psychotherapist win be informed; in writing, within fourteen days of receipt of the complaint.

2.2.5. The Chair of the Investigating Committee will appoint an investigator. The investigator may not be a member of the Ethics Committee. The investigator may be a qualified member of The Bowlby Centre who is not on the Investigating Committee but not a person who would be disqualified from serving on the investigating Committee in considering this complaint under paragraph 2.2.2 A maximum of twenty-eight days will be allowed for the investigation.

2.2.6.The investigator will take such steps as are reasonably practicable to obtain as much information as possible about the case including seeking clarification of any matter from the complainant, and the psychotherapist.

2.2.7. As part of the investigation the psychotherapist will have an opportunity to comment on the complaint and his/her comments will be sent to the complainant for comment. Once the complainant has responded the investigator will decide whether a further exchange is needed in order for the investigating committee to decide whether there is a case to answer.

2.2.8. Should the investigator meet with either of the parties the investigator will meet with both the parties.

2.2.9. The investigator will report to the Investigating Committee and will make a recommendation in the light of the information available to her/him and any observations made by the psychotherapist whether in her/his opinion there is a case to answer.

2.2.10. The Investigating Committee will, within fourteen days of receipt of the report of the investigator, decide whether there is a case to answer. The Investigating Committee will meet with the investigator prior to taking a decision contrary to the recommendation of the investigator. If the Investigating Committee decides that there is a case to answer it will inform the complainant and the psychotherapist.

2.2.11 Subject to paragraph 2.2.10 all complaints where there is a case to answer will be referred to the Ethics Committee.

2.2.12 Where the complaint concerns a criminal conviction the Investigating Committee will consider whether the conviction is relevant to the work of a psychotherapist. The complaint will be referred to the Ethics Committee only where the conviction is held to be so relevant.

2.2.13. Where the Investigating Committee finds that there is a case to answer it will determine whether the parties are to be entitled to legal representation because of the nature of the case or for any other reason.

2.2.14. Where the Investigating Committee finds that there is a case to answer and that it is necessary to review the health of the psychotherapist and his/her consequent fitness to practise it will advise the Ethics Committee accordingly. The Ethics Committee. will establish a Health Panel to hear the complaint (see 2.4).

2.2.15. The Investigating Committee shall state which clauses of the Code of Ethics may have been breached.

2.2.16. If the Investigating Committee decides that there is no case to answer it will inform the complainant and the psychotherapist.

2.2.17. Whatever decision it has made on the question of whether or not there is a case to answer the Investigating Committee may make recommendations to the parties and to The Bowlby Centre concerning ways in which issues raised by the complaint may be addressed.

2.2.18. An appeal against a decision that there is no case to answer may be made in accordance with Sections 3 and 4. Should the appeal be upheld the complaint will be heard under Section 2.3. and follow the procedures set out thereafter.

2.3. Formal Procedure for Complaints Panel

2.3.1.The Ethics Committee will appoint a Complaints Panel made up from persons not so far involved in any of the investigations. The membership of the Complaints Panel will be determined by the Ethics Committee.

2.3.2. The following will not be eligible to’ participate in the hearing of a complaint: partners. and those who have had a therapy, supervision, or tutorial relationship with either the complainant or psychotherapist, or who is closely acquainted with or interested in either of the parties or the subject matter of the complaint.

2.3.3. The Complaints Panel shall consist of:

2.3.3.1 two psychotherapists, one of whom shall be a member of the Ethics Committee and at least one of whom shall be a member of The Bowlby Centre (this member may be the member of the Ethics Committee);

2.3.3.2 one lay member;

2.3.3.3 where the Investigating Committee has determined that legal representation should be available, a lawyer.

2.3.4 The Complaints Panel will be chaired by the member of the Ethics Committee save where it includes a lawyer in which case the lawyer will chair the Complaints Panel. The Chair will have a casting vote in any case of equality of votes.

2.3.5.The parties will be informed of appointments to the Complaints Panel. The Ethics Committee shall consider reasoned objections to proposed appointments but has the right to proceed to appoint members of the panel despite objections or in the absence of a response from the parties.

2.3.6. The Role of the Complaints Panel is to:

2.3.6.1 ensure that stated procedure is followed;

2.3.6.2 clarify questions for both complainant and Psychotherapist;

2.3.6.3 decide whether further investigation is required and if necessary take

reasonable steps to carry out that investigation;

2.3.6.4 decide whether to uphold the complaint;

2.3.6.5 determine what sanctions are to be imposed where a complaint is upheld.

2.3.7. The standard of proof to be applied by the Complaints Panel will be balance of probability.

2.3.8. Within twenty-one days of the confirmation of its appointment the Complaints Panel will meet to determine what procedure it proposes to follow. It will consider the Investigator’s Report and decide what, if any, further investigations are necessary and whether a hearing is necessary. Where the Investigating Committee has ruled that legal representation will not be allowed the Complaints Panel may at this meeting if it considers it necessary, review that decision and ask the Ethics. Committee to appoint a lawyer as Chair.

2.3.9. Where the Complaints. Panel considers that the complaint may be fairly determined without a hearing, it will notify the parties of its opinion and give them an opportunity to make written representations on the matter. The Panel may then either determine the complaint or set a date for a hearing. Where the Panel determines the complaint without a hearing, it will send a written report of its decision and reasoning to the Ethics Committee within fourteen days of the date on which it makes its determination, and paragraphs 2.3.15 and following shall apply.

2.3.10.At least twenty eight days’ notice of the Complaints Hearing is to be given to all participants.

2.3.11. Both parties may be accompanied by a friend or colleague of their choice subject to the agreement of the Complaints Panel which will not be unreasonably withheld. The friend or colleague will not be a lawyer or legal representative unless the Investigating Committee has determined that legal representatives should be available.

2.3.12. The hearing will be held in private.

2.3.13 The conduct of the hearing will be at the discretion of the Chair. The hearing will include the following procedures but will not necessarily be limited to them:

2.3.13.1 the complainant will first make his/her statement.

2:3.13.2 the Psychotherapist will make his/her statement.

2.3.13.3 each party may question the other, through the Chair, following the statement of each party.

2.3.13.4 the Panel will put their questions to both complainant and Psychotherapist.

2.3.13.5 there will be further opportunity for questions from the parties, through the Chair.

2.3.13.6 the Complaints Panel may allow either party to call and examine witnesses, in which case they may be questioned by the other party and the Panel.

2.3.13.7 the complainant will be given an opportunity to make a final statement.

2.3.13.8 the Psychotherapist will be given an opportunity to make a final statement.

2.3.14 The Complaints Panel may request the attendance of the Investigator to answer questions on his/her report.

2.3.15 The Complaints Panel will not announce a decision on the complaint at the hearing. A written report on their proceedings, decision and reasoning, will be sent to the Ethics Committee within fourteen days of the end of the hearing.

2.3.16 Where the complaint has been upheld the Complaints Panel will consider which of the following directions are to be given:

2.3.16.1 to censure the Member and/or warn the Member to exercise greater care in the practice of psychotherapy;

2.3.16.2 to direct extra therapy, supervision or training required, or a combination of these;

2.3.16.3 to direct removal from office within the organisation;

2.3.16.4. to direct the removal from the Members’ register for The Bowlby Centre and removal from the UKCP Register of Psychotherapists.

2.3.17. Directions under clauses 2.3.16. are to be clear and specific. Time limits or other conditions for the lifting of sanctions imposed are to be clearly set out.

2.3.18. The Chair of the Ethics Committee will be responsible for sending a copy of the Complaints Panel decision to the complainant and the psychotherapist, and informing in writing of the decision of the Complaints Panel and any directions given, within seven days of receipt of the report by him.

2.3.19. The Chair of the Ethics Committee will send a copy of the Complaints Panel decision to the Chair of The Bowlby Centre and the Chair of the The Bowlby Centre Trustees.

2.3.20.The Ethics Committee will be responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of directions made and will report back regularly to the Trustees and inform the Chair of CAPP of the reports.

2.4. Health Panel

2.4.1. Procedures for the Health Panel will be the same as for the Complaints Panel excepting that in the place of the lay members the panel will include a medically qualified practitioner.

3. APPEAL TO THE BOWLBY CENTRE TRUSTEES

3.1. The complainant and the psychotherapist may appeal against the decision of the Complaints Panel, or the directions given, by giving notice of appeal to the Chair of The Bowlby Centre

3.2. Notice of any appeal must be given within twenty one days of the date on which the Chair of the Ethics Committee informed the parties of the decision in accordance with paragraph 2.3.18.

3.3. If either party appeals against the decision on any grounds the Trustees will appoint an External Assessor to review the evidence and the procedure followed. The External Assessor will determine the procedures to be followed in conducting the review. The review will not include a further hearing.

3.4. The External Assessor may uphold or vary the decisions of the Complaints Panel on either the complaint or the directions or both.

3.5. The External Assessor will send his/her decision to the Chair of the Trustees, the Chair of The Bowlby Centre, the psychotherapist and the complainant within twenty eight days of his/her appointment. Notification of the decision to the psychotherapist and the complainant shall be accompanied by a copy of the UKCP’s rules relating to appeals in force at the time.

4. APPEAL TO UKCP

4.1. Either party can appeal to the UKCP under the rules of the UKCP in force at the time.

5. COSTS AND PUBLICATION

5.1. No award of costs or compensation will be made under this procedure.

5.2. Once all appeals have been heard and a complaint has been upheld the fact that a complaint has been upheld against the psychotherapist may at the discretion of the Ethics Committee be published in The Bowlby Centre newsletter. The complainant will not be named nor will identifying information be released. Details of complaints will not be given. Where a psychotherapist has been removed from the list of registered members this will be recorded in the notice.

5.3. Public statements will not be made in relation to complaints during the hearings unless in the reasonable view of the Chair of the Investigating Committee or the Ethics Committee greater harm would be done to those involved by failing to do so.