Behaving improperly or negligently could include such acts as improperly releasing (or refusing to release) treatment records, becoming improperly involved with a patient or client, performing an incomplete or biased custody evaluation, or other behavior(s) which are illegal, inappropriate, or contrary to ethical standards. Make sure you have solid, documented evidence of the behavior or actions you detail in your complaint.
Each type of mental health professional has a different set ethical codes they must follow:
If the person is a psychologist, he or she must follow the ethical guidelines used by the American Psychological Association. You can find the code of ethics for the American Psychological Association online at http://www.apa.org/ethics/homepage.html. There are specific rules that pertain to evaluations as well as general conduct. You may also write the American Psychological Association and request a copy of their code of ethics. Write to:
APA Ethics Office
750 First St, NE
Washington, DC 20002
If the person is a psychiatrist, he or she must follow the ethical guidelines used by the American Psychiatric Association. You can find the code of ethics for the American Psychiatric Association online at http://www.psych.org/apa_members/ethics.html. Like psychologists, psychiatrists also have specific rules that apply to cusody and/or parenting evaluations. You may also write the American Psychiatric Association and request a copy of their code of ethics. Write to:
American Psychiatric Association
1400 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
If the person is a social worker, he or she is supposed to follow the code of ethics proposed by the National Association of Social Workers. You can find the code of ethics for the National Association of Social Workers at http://www.naswdc.org/CODE.HTM. You may also write the National Association of Social Workers and request a copy of their code of ethics. Write to:
National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street, NE, Suite 700
Washington DC 20002
If the person is a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), he or she is supposed to follow the code of conduct for the State in which they perform their duties for the court. The code of conduct varies from State to State but most are fairly standardized. One example of GAL guidelines can be found on the South Carolina Bar Online pages (http://www.scbar.org/). Standards for CASA's can be found on the National CASA Association site. You may also ask the GAL or the court for a copy of the GAL's code of conduct.
Modify the letter to fit your circumstances, then mail it 'Certified' with 'Return Receipt Requested' to the appropriate address. Send a copy to your attorney and make sure you keep a copy for your records as well.
COMPLAINT REGARDING [name of doctor, therapist, etc]
TO: [fill in appropriate governing body]
[fill in appropriate address]
City, State, ZIP
RE: Violation Of Ethical Guidelines
I hereby lodge an official complaint against [name of doctor, therapist, etc] who is a licensed [psychologist / psychiatrist / therapist, etc], and is therefore subject to the Ethical Guidelines adopted and published by the [name of governing body].
Nature of the complaint:
[Name of doctor, therapist, etc] has violated the Ethical Guidelines of the [name of governing body] through the following actions:
[Detail the nature of the complaint. Be succinct and factual, do not enagage in any sarcasm or remarks of a personal nature. Offer to provide documentation or other proof upon request. You should also cite or paste in a copy of the specific guidelines that have been violated, or you can include it below.]
Date of Violation:___________________
Date Violation Discovered if different from above:________________
Other Relevant Information:
[Detail any other relevant information or event(s) here. This is a good place to cite or paste in a copy of the specific guidelines that have been violated, or you can include it above. Delete this section if your complaint is fully explained in the section above.]
It is my hope that this matter can be resolved without the necessity of legal action. I am sure the [name of governing body] will find this issue worthy of investigation, and I look forward to hearing from you as to the disposition of this matter.
Modify the letter as necessary, then mail it (certified, with Return Receipt Requested) to the appropriate address.