The following are summaries of some recent decisions of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee reflecting three different dispositions. They are provided for educational purposes. Information in these summaries has been altered to protect the privacy of both members and complainants, and to protect the confidentiality of the investigation process. The relevant substance of the allegations and outcomes remain unchanged.
FAMILY MATTERS: DECISION – TAKE NO FURTHER ACTION (F&V)
The College received a complaint from a Psychologist’s cousin indicating that several years earlier, the Psychologist had threatened to physically abuse the cousin. The cousin claimed that due to this, the Psychologist was not fit to practice psychology.
The College made preliminary inquiries and determined that the cousin had never been a client of the Psychologist. The College also learned that after a CAS investigation into the alleged conduct, the allegations had been determined to be unfounded.
The panel of the ICRC considering this matter believed that, based on this information, the allegations had already been dealt with in a more appropriate forum,
and that there was no reasonable prospect of a finding of professional misconduct in this case. The panel therefore believed that the complaint was “frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith, moot or otherwise an abuse of process,” and, therefore, decided to take no further action.
DOCUMENTING INFORMED CONSENT: DECISION – ADVICE TO MEMBER
A client complained that she did not consent to providing a Psychologist with her medical records. The client maintained that while she provided the Psychologist with verbal consent over the telephone, she understood that verbal consent is generally invalid. The Psychologist did not document any consent process with respect to receiving medical records.
The panel of the ICRC considering this matter decided to provide the member with Advice. The panel noted that
while verbal consent can certainly be a valid consent, the Psychologist was vulnerable to complaint because there was no documentation that verbal consent had been obtained. The panel’s Advice to the Psychologist was that in future, he ensure that his psychological records include detailed consent forms, or detailed documentation of any consent obtained.
INADEQUATE SUPERVISION: DECISION – ACKNOWLEDGEMENT & UNDERTAKING
The College received a complaint from an individual who had been seeing a Registered Psychotherapist who was being supervised by a Psychologist. The complainant alleged that she did not know that the services had been provided under supervision.
The panel of the ICRC considering this matter did note that the consent forms signed by the client and invoices issued, indicated that the Psychotherapist was practicing under supervision. A review of the Psychologist’s supervision of the Registered Psychotherapist however did reveal some potential shortcomings that caused the panel concern.
The panel was concerned that the supervisee’s method of informing the Psychologist of new clients was to provide
a list to her at each supervision session. This meant that the supervising Psychologist only learned of new clients after the supervisee had already begun providing services. This practice did not allow the Psychologist to review
and understand the client’s needs, assess the level of supervision required, or determine if it was appropriate for this client to be served by this supervisee. The Psychologist was also unable to screen for any possible conflicts of interest or dual relationships she may have with the client.
In addition, there was concern regarding the format
of the supervision in that the choice of which files to discuss in the supervision sessions was left totally to the supervisee. The panel did not believe that the supervisor could adequately review the nature and quality of the supervisee’s services if the supervision agenda was left entirely to the discretion of the supervisee.
Given these concerns, the Psychologist agreed to an Acknowledgement and Undertaking with the College. Through this Undertaking, the member agreed to participate in a coaching program for a minimum of six months, to review and improve her supervision processes.