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Challenges to a Psychologist’s License

Undoubtedly, one important reason why you chose to go into the delicate work of psychology is because you want to help people with mental and emotional problems. Perhaps you have a history of such issues yourself, or you watched a loved one struggle with mental illness all through life. Whatever your inspiration, you have spent considerable time, money and effort getting your degree and your license to practice psychology.

You may be surprised to know how easily your license could be jeopardized. In fact, one report revealed that 40 percent of psychologists who practice 20 years or longer will receive notice that someone has filed a complaint against them with the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners. If this happens to you, all your hard work may hang in the balance.

Common Complaints Against Psychologists

When the Board fully investigates an accusation and finds it has merit, the Board may take action as serious as revoking your psychologist’s license or as minor as issuing a letter of reprimand. However, any disciplinary action could have a harmful effect on your career, not to mention your own mental well-being. Some of the most common complaints against psychologists include:

  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Inappropriate involvement in child custody issues
  • Suicide or attempted suicide of a patient
  • Boundary crossing

Crossing boundaries often refers to romantic or sexual encounters with patients, but it may include other kinds of relationships. If you have any kind of association with a patient outside your therapy sessions, you may be open to disciplinary actions. Hiring a patient to do work around your house or friending a patient on Facebook are two examples of actions the Board may question.

Protecting Yourself

You may think of these relationships as harmless and even find it difficult to avoid them. Clearly, your work draws you into the lives of your clients, and your natural compassion may cause you to open your life to them too freely. In any case, it is important to stay healthy and recognize the early signs that you are burning out, which often leads to making poor decisions.

Many psychologists also find it helpful to stay attuned to the frequent changes in state and federal licensing laws. Additionally, some studies show that membership and participation in professional associations may reduce the chances of a psychologist facing a disciplinary board. However, in the event that you are called before the licensing board to answer a complaint, you have every right to seek legal advocacy.

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