Monterey License Attorney



You are a valuable asset to your community on a personal and professional level as a psychologist. Your core role is to assist people in taking care of their mental health and wellness while offering an avenue of safety and trust in which to perform therapy. However, psychologists in California have high standards of conduct regarding patient confidentiality and trust, and misconduct or misunderstanding can result in losing your professional license. That is why you should act promptly once you learn a complaint has been filed against you with the California Board of Psychology. If you wait, you could lose access to witnesses or relevant documents that could assist you, and the disciplinary process could move past the phase where you can resolve it. The Monterey License Attorney is ready to aid you. We can guide you throughout the process and ensure your rights are protected.

What Does a Psychologist Do?

After years in graduate school and supervised training, the California Board of Psychology licenses a psychologist to help different people and treat various issues.

As a psychologist, you can help people experiencing anger, depression, or anxiety for a long time. Patients with chronic health conditions affecting their physical health or lives can also seek your help. Other patients might have short-term challenges they want assistance navigating, like facing divorce, grieving the loss of a loved one, or feeling overwhelmed by their job. Psychologists also assist patients in learning to cope with devastating situations and overcome addictions.

Practicing psychologists use an assortment of evidence-based treatments to treat patients. Some of the standard methods include the following:

  • Tests and assessments to diagnose what a patient feels, behaves, and thinks. The tests evaluate cognitive strengths and weaknesses, personality characteristics, neurophysiological function, vocational aptitude, and intellectual skills.
  • Psychotherapy — It can be humanistic, psychodynamic, interpersonal, or cognitive-behavioral. Therapy can be for individuals, families, or couples.
  • Integrating medication and therapy to manage mental health conditions.

California Board of Psychology Overview

The California Board of Psychology (BOP) is tasked with protecting patients from negligent, incompetent, and unsafe practitioners and does so by:

  • Licensing psychologists.
  • Supervising psychology practices.
  • Supporting the evolution of the profession.

Part of the BOP’s mandate is investigating accusations of wrongdoing against licensed California psychologists. After the BOP discovers that you have engaged in a criminal or administrative offense, it can take disciplinary measures against your license.

A disciplinary investigation by the BOP could threaten a psychologist’s professional license and source of income. The disciplinary action is a public record. Anyone visiting the board’s website, including your potential clients, can access it. Consequently, you should contact a professional license defense lawyer once you learn you are under investigation. Your attorney can assist you in navigating all aspects of the BOP process and utilize their legal experience in the California BOP system to ensure you obtain a favorable case outcome.

California BOP Investigations

A BOP investigation into an allegation of wrongdoing against a California licensed psychologist starts with an accusation of unprofessional misconduct. A patient, colleague, loved one, insurance agency, or public member can file an accusation against you. If charged with a criminal offense, a BOP investigation can commence after a case referral from a county prosecutor or upon notification of your fingerprint processing by the California Department of Justice (DOJ).

The California BOP investigates accusations and complaints involving the following:

  • Unethical and unprofessional misconduct.
  • Substance abuse or excessive use of alcohol.
  • Conviction of an offense affecting your psychology practice.
  • Permitting another individual to practice under your registration or license.
  • Receiving patient referral payments from other California professionals.
  • Obtaining a psychologist license by deception or fraud.
  • Negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation of a license.
  • Violation of patient confidentiality.
  • Violations connected to advertising.
  • Gross lack of care in your psychology practice.
  • Violating the regulations of ethical and professional behavior.
  • Sexual misconduct or a sexual relationship with a present or former client.
  • Corrupt, fraudulent, or dishonest acts.
  • Abetting or aiding unlicensed practice of psychology.
  • Engaging outside the scope of your competence.

Upon receiving an allegation, the Board commences an investigation regarding the accusations against a psychologist. Based on what the BOP investigators determine, the board can handle the allegation through non-disciplinary or disciplinary measures.

Non-disciplinary actions consist of the following:

  • Closing the investigation without taking any disciplinary action.
  • Giving the psychologist an educational BOP letter.
  • Fine and citation.

Typically, a non-disciplinary resolution is the more favorable outcome.

Nonetheless, if the BOP investigating officers find merit in the complaint, the board will file an official accusation. The allegation is a formal document listing charges and the law sections you are accused of violating. These offenses and violations are the foundation of the BOP's disciplinary action.

Possible disciplinary measures the bard imposes include the following:

  • A reproval letter, which summarizes accusations against you.
  • License probation.
  • License suspension.
  • The board could impose an interim license suspension order before a disciplinary proceeding if your conduct threatens the general public's safety, health, and welfare.
  • License surrender, which can reached during a stipulated settlement.
  • License revocation.

When determining the disciplinary action to take, the BOP considers the following factors:

  • The severity and nature of the alleged crime or offense.
  • Harm to patients or the general public.
  • Previous record of citations or discipline.
  • Mitigating and aggravating evidence.
  • Number of current violations.
  • Your criminal record.
  • The time that has elapsed since you committed the crime.

Upon filing a formal allegation, you should present your defenses and evaluate the available evidence that is the foundation of the allegation. A well-experienced psychologist license defense attorney will work to reach a stipulated agreement to acquire a favorable case resolution. The case goes to an administrative law judge (ALJ) if a stipulated agreement is impossible.

Defending Your Professional Psychology License

If the BOP makes a formal accusation against your license, you must respond within 15 days and request an administrative hearing.

However, California laws and the involved processes are complex, and you need an attorney to effectively challenge the board’s allegations against you. Your attorney can guide you in navigating the disciplinary process and developing the most robust case-defense action plan. The defense process involves the following:

  • Filing your Notice of Defense 15 days after being informed of the allegations against you.
  • Engaging in case discovery and receiving BOP case evidence.
  • Engaging professional witnesses to speak in your defense.
  • Developing legal strategies and defenses to defeat the charges facing you.
  • Representing you during stipulated agreement negotiations with the board.
  • Representing you during the administrative hearing before the ALJ.

Practical Defenses and Strategies

Your lawyer will collect and evaluate evidence to determine the most viable defense strategy to fight the board’s disciplinary proceedings. Some of these defenses include the following:

  • Mistake of facts — Your decisions were based on a misunderstanding, not deliberate wrongdoing.
  • Insufficient evidence — The BOP bears the legal burden of validating the charges presented. Therefore, you have a defense if the disciplinary case evidence is lacking or weak.
  • Negligence issues — Your actions did not involve a breach of the standard of care.
  • No harm to the patient took place — There should be a definite link between your alleged wrongdoing and injury to your patient.
  • Mitigating case facts.
  • Contesting the accusations — You can argue you never participated in the alleged wrongdoing.

Tips to Avoid BOP Disciplinary Action and to Protect Your Psychology License

Below are tips to help you prevent the BOP disciplinary action and to enable you to continue engaging in what you enjoy—helping your patients.

  • Maintain detailed patient documentation with your diagnoses, assessments, and treatment programs. The BOP appreciates paperwork.
  • Establish healthy boundaries with your patients by remaining professional.
  • Stay current with the present psychological care standards and ethical regulations.
  • Maintain office policies that safeguard your patients' right to privacy.
  • Get a medical check for impairment challenges that could impact your job.
  • Obtain consent from patients before providing them with treatment.
  • Request assistance if your patient’s case is perplexing.
  • Be honest in your advertisements and websites. Refrain from exaggerating your psychology skills.
  • Ensure you have malpractice insurance coverage tailored for California psychologists.
  • Attend to your patients' complaints immediately.

Even while being careful, an accusation of wrongdoing can still occur. You must pay attention to the BOP, respond promptly, and seek legal assistance once you receive a notice.

Vital Regulations and Laws Governing California Psychology Licenses

Understanding the rules and regulations that apply to licensed California psychologists is essential to defending your psychology license effectively. These laws include the following:

  • California Business and Professions Code Sections 2900-2919 — It contains the laws governing practicing psychology, including the field of practice, license requirements, and disciplinary measures.
  • California Code of Regulations Title 16, Sections 1380-1399.395 — These are rules the BOP implements regarding your profession. It contains regulations on continuing education, ethics, and fields of practice.
  • APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct — The Code contains professional ethics endorsed by the American Psychological Association. The BOP can cite a breach of APA professional ethics as the basis for disciplinary action.

Breaching these regulations and codes of ethics could cause the BOP to take disciplinary measures against your psychologist's license. On the other hand, your skilled attorney can use them to urge you to be professional and ethical.

Why Hire a Knowledgeable Psychology License Defense Attorney

When your psychology career and license are at stake, it can be frightening. You are not alone, and an experienced professional license defense lawyer can protect your source of livelihood. They will do so by doing the following:

  • Conducting an in-depth investigation of your allegations.
  • Defending you vigorously against untrue or exaggerated allegations.
  • Building effective legal strategies depending on your case facts.
  • Representing you during stipulated agreements negotiations with the BOP.
  • Defending you at administrative hearings.
  • Guiding you throughout the complex BOP disciplinary procedures.

Involving an attorney early in the disciplinary process can make a difference between the BOP filing of a formal accusation and facing a non-disciplinary action.

Your attorney can also help you with the following:

  • Psychology license application.
  • Appeals of refusal of a license.
  • Negotiation of a stipulated agreement.

Coping With Losing Your Professional License

If you have lost your psychology professional license or are under BOP’s investigation, it is normal to feel anxious, stressed, and confused, and it can affect your capacity to reason. Before you panic, it is essential to note that most licensees recover their licenses by taking the necessary steps.

First, consult your professional license defense attorney. They have previously handled cases similar to yours and can help you.

Work on Your Health

Human beings feel better when they are physically healthy. While eating healthy and exercising daily can be tricky, they can add positivity to life. They alleviate stress and establish a routine.

Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine. If you lost your psychology license due to substance abuse, attend rehabilitation or therapy.

Practice Self-Care

It is normal for you to lose your sense of identity, become restless without your daily routine at work, and suffer from lowered self-confidence. Losing your license is a significant loss, and grieving it is healthy.

Instead of feeling upset with yourself or ignoring your emotions, allow yourself to feel them. Speaking to your loved ones, seeking psychological help, and noting your emotions are brilliant ways to ensure you stay in touch with your feelings.

Also, establishing healthy behaviors like spending quality time with loved ones can help you cope with your uncertainties.

Work on Professional License Reinstatement

The law allows a person whose board has suspended or revoked their psychology professional license to file a license reinstatement petition. You should bring it within three years from when the BOP withdrew it. You can also request the BOP for an adjustment or probation termination.

To obtain a favorable case outcome, you should take relevant steps to prove you are eligible for licensure. It can include expunging your criminal convictions, paying restitution, attending alcohol and drug treatment programs, counseling, completing school, and having a network of individuals who can vouch for your rehabilitative endeavors.

Find a Seasoned Professional License Defense Lawyer Near Me

You must complete graduate school, pass your professional examination, and gain experience through an internship to practice as a psychologist. You should also act ethically and professionally to keep your license in good standing. A complaint can result in the BOP notifying you of its investigation. The letter informs you of your allegation and allows you to respond to the accusation by seeking legal representation. The Monterey License Attorney can stand with you throughout the proceedings. We can aid in collecting supporting evidence and developing persuasive defenses for the BOP hearings.

To get started, contact us at 831-296-1191.

How Can We Help?