If the matter is not dismissed and a settlement cannot be reached, the case will be scheduled for a formal public hearing. The Board will give the licensee a notice of hearing, which hearing is conducted by the Board members. The LPC has the right to present evidence in defense, including calling witnesses, introducing exhibits, making objections, cross-examining witnesses called by the Board, and making a closing argument. If they have not done so already, many LPCs/licensees decide that they need to retain a firm or attorney to represent them at the formal hearing stage.
Possible Discipline and Outcomes of the Public Hearing
The Board may suspend, or revoke licensure, discipline, place on probation, limit practice, or require examination, remediation, or rehabilitation of any LPC or other licensee on one or more of the following grounds:
- Has been convicted of a felony or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any felony charge under the laws of the United States or of any state of the United States;
- Has been convicted of or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, misrepresentation, or fraud in dealing with the public, or conduct otherwise relevant to fitness to practice professional counseling, or a misdemeanor charge reflecting the inability to practice professional counseling with due regard to the health and safety of clients or patients;
- Has engaged in fraud or deceit in securing or attempting to secure or renew a license or has willfully concealed from the Board material information in connection with an application for a license or renewal of a license under this Article;
- Has practiced any fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation upon the public, the Board, or any individual in connection with the practice of professional counseling, the offer of professional counseling services, the filing of Medicare, Medicaid, or other claims to any third-party payor, or in any manner otherwise relevant to fitness for the practice of professional counseling;
- Has made fraudulent, misleading, or intentionally and materially false statements pertaining to education, licensure, license renewal, certification as a health services provider, supervision, continuing education, any disciplinary actions or sanctions pending or occurring in any other jurisdiction, professional credentials, or qualifications or fitness for the practice of professional counseling to the public, any individual, the Board, or any other organization;
- Has had a license or certification for the practice of professional counseling in any other jurisdiction suspended or revoked, or has been disciplined by the licensing or certification board in any other jurisdiction for conduct which would subject him or her to discipline;
- Has violated any provision of this Article or any rules adopted by the Board;
- Has aided or abetted the unlawful practice of professional counseling by any person not licensed by the Board;
- Has been guilty of immoral, dishonorable, unprofessional, or unethical conduct;
- Has practiced professional counseling in such a manner as to endanger the welfare of clients;
- Has demonstrated an inability to practice professional counseling with reasonable skill and safety by reason of illness, inebriation, misuse of drugs, narcotics, alcohol, chemicals, or any other substance affecting mental or physical functioning, or as a result of any mental or physical condition;
- Has practiced professional counseling outside the boundaries of demonstrated competence or the limitations of education, training, or supervised experience;
- Has exercised undue influence in such a manner as to exploit the client, patient, student, supervisee, or trainee for the financial or other personal advantage or gratification of the licensed professional counselor associate, licensed professional counselor, or a third party;
- Has harassed or abused, sexually or otherwise, a client, patient, student, supervisee, or trainee;
- Has failed to cooperate with or to respond promptly, completely, and honestly to the Board, to credentials committees, or to ethics committees of professional associations, hospitals, or other health care organizations or educational institutions, when those organizations or entities have jurisdiction;
- Has refused to appear before the Board after having been ordered to do so in writing by the chair;
- Has a finding listed on the Division of Health Service Regulation of the Department of Health and Human Services Health Care Personnel Registry
The Board may, in lieu of denial, suspension, or revocation, take any of the following disciplinary actions: (1) Issue a formal reprimand or formally censure the applicant or licensee; (2) Place the applicant or licensee on probation with the appropriate conditions on the continued practice of professional counseling deemed advisable by the Board; (3) Require examination, remediation, or rehabilitation for the applicant or licensee, including care, counseling, or treatment by a professional or professionals designated or approved by the Board; (4) Require supervision of the professional counseling services provided by the applicant or licensee by a LPC designated or approved by the Board; (5) Limit or circumscribe the practice of professional counseling provided by the applicant or licensee with respect to the extent, nature, or location of the professional counseling services provided, as deemed advisable by the Board; or (6) Discipline and impose any appropriate combination of the types of disciplinary action listed above.
In addition, the Board may impose conditions of probation or restrictions on continued practice of professional counseling at the conclusion of a period of suspension or as a requirement for the restoration of a revoked or suspended license. The Board may assess costs of disciplinary action against an applicant or licensee.
Appeal of a Disciplinary Order and other Court Proceedings
An order issued by the Board imposing discipline may be appealed to Superior Court. Generally, it is much more difficult for a licensee to prevail once the matter reaches the court system on an appeal, even if s/he retains legal counsel at that point.
When considering the issue of whether an applicant or licensee is physically or mentally capable of practicing professional counseling with reasonable skill and safety with patients or clients, upon a showing of probable cause to the Board that the applicant or licensee is not capable of practicing professional counseling with reasonable skill and safety with patients or clients, the Board may petition a court to order the applicant or LPC in question to submit to a psychological evaluation by a psychologist or a physical evaluation by a physician.