ALERT: Effective January 1, 2018, the titles for Marriage and Family Therapist Interns, and Professional Clinical Counselor Interns will change. More Information

Complaint Process

Through its enforcement staff, the Division of Investigation (DOI), and the California Office of the Attorney General (AG), the BBS identifies and takes appropriate action against licensees and registrants who, through their conduct, expose themselves to disciplinary action. The purpose of the disciplinary process is to ensure quality psychotherapeutic care to the consumers of the State of California and to preserve high standards of practice in this jurisdiction.

All complaints are reviewed by the Board's enforcement staff. Complaints containing allegations that, if proven, constitute grounds for disciplinary action, may be sent to the DOI for investigation. If the investigation confirms the alleged misconduct, the matter may be submitted to the AG's office to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to pursue disciplinary action against the subject. If it is determined that sufficient evidence exists, an Accusation is prepared and served upon the subject, and he or she is given the opportunity to request a hearing to contest the charges against him or her.

Acts which are subject to disciplinary action (revocation, suspension, or probationary status of a license) include, but are not limited to, unprofessional conduct, sexual misconduct, gross negligence, conviction of a substantially related crime, substance abuse or use of drugs with a client, intentionally or recklessly causing harm to a client, practicing beyond the scope of the license, failure to maintain confidentiality, failure to adhere to reporting requirements, failure to obtain client consent for services, etc.

After an Accusation is filed, the case may be resolved by a stipulated settlement. Stipulations are written agreements between the parties in which the person charged admits to certain violations and agrees that a particular disciplinary order may be imposed. Stipulations are subject to adoption by the Board. The complainant will be notified of the outcome the case. The disciplinary process, from the receipt of the complaint until a final decision is rendered generally takes two years if a case goes to hearing.

If a stipulated settlement cannot be negotiated, a hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings. After the hearing is concluded, the Judge issues a proposed decision which is submitted to the Board for adoption as its decision in the matter. If the Board chooses not to adopt the proposed decision, a transcript of the hearing is obtained and reviewed by the Board members who then decide the matter based upon the administrative record. The respondent may petition for reconsideration if dissatisfied with the decision or proceed to file a writ of mandate in the appropriate Superior Court to contest the decision.

Accusations and Final Decisions are a matter of public record and are available in the Online License Verification when verifying the status of a license. These documents are also available upon request by emailing the BBS Enforcement Unit.