In California, the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) is responsible for licensing, examination, and enforcement of professional standards for certain mental health professionals. This includes Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Associates (AMFT), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Associates (ASW), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) and Associates (APCC), and Licensed Educational Psychologists (LEP).
As part of its role as a state regulatory agency, the BBS is responsible for investigating and responding to complaints made against licensees and registrants for violations of the law related to the practice of therapy, counseling, educational psychology, and social work. A complaint may result in the filing of a formal Accusation, and may ultimately lead to disciplinary action by the BBS. Discipline may include license probation, suspension, or even revocation.
If you are under investigation by the Board of Behavioral Science, an experienced California BBS licensed defense attorney can help. The Law Office of Nicole Irmer understands the complexities involved in defending a professional’s license and reputation. Whether your licensing issue arises from a chemical dependency, a criminal matter, or an accusation of professional malpractice, we can work with you to protect your license and your livelihood.
Like other professional licensing agencies, the BBS is responsible for monitoring and regulating the practice of therapy, counseling, educational psychology, and social work in the State of California. In addition to licensing, one of the most important roles of the BBS is to enforce professional standards. The enforcement unit of the BBS investigates reported violations of California statutes and regulations related to behavioral health professionals.
A complaint may be made by almost anyone: a client, a former client, a colleague, an insurance company, or even a law enforcement agency. Once the BBS receives a complaint, it will begin the investigation process. At this stage, a BBS investigator may reach out to you and ask you to make a statement, submit to an interview, or provide certain paperwork. It is important to consult with a behavioral health license defense lawyer prior to engaging or speaking to a Board investigator.
If the complaint is not substantiated, the file may be closed. Alternatively, it may result in a lower level of discipline, such as a citation and fine. If your attorney can intervene early in the process, they may be able to offer evidence that refutes or mitigates the allegations against you.
However, if the complaint is substantiated, the BBS may file an Accusation, which is a written statement of charges against the licensee or registrant. The Attorney General’s Office handles formal Accusations. While it can be daunting to receive a formal Accusation, you still have several options available including negotiating a stipulated settlement or proceeding to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). If you are found to have committed the alleged violation(s), then you may be subject to disciplinary action, including:
While it is possible to represent yourself during a BBS investigation, after an Accusation has been filed, and before the OAH, an experienced attorney will be able to help you best navigate the process. Investigations can lead to a formal Accusation and the potential to lose your license. In some cases, they may even lead to criminal charges. Having a lawyer to advocate for you can help to protect your interests.
The Law Office of Nicole Irmer has represented therapists, counselors, social workers, and educational psychologists who are facing disciplinary action for the following conduct:
Our law firm takes a proactive approach to professional license defense. We start by evaluating the facts and circumstances surrounding the complaint or Accusation. We then craft a comprehensive defense strategy that may include performing a thorough investigation, retaining experts, developing a rehabilitation plan for situations involving chemical dependency or mental health issues, and gathering rehabilitation documents. Whenever possible, we work with the BBS enforcement unit to resolve the matter without proceeding to a formal Accusation.
In situations where an Accusation has been filed, our team will continue to gather evidence and develop a strong defense to the charges against you. We will work to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome while treating you with compassion and respect.
A licensing complaint can have a devastating effect on your career as a therapist, counselor, educational psychologist, or social worker. A skilled behavioral health license defense attorney can shepherd you through the process, explaining your rights and options while putting together the strongest possible defense to the allegations against you.
Based in San Diego, the Law Offices of Nicole Irmer represents professionals throughout California who are dealing with licensing issues. We work collaboratively with our clients to help them achieve favorable results. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 619-237-6130 or fill out our online contact form.
Related: Board of Psychology