Reasons to consider a complaint

Generally, the best way to protect yourself is to notify others: reach out to a family member, friend, co-worker, or other trusted individual.  Making a professional abuse complaint through a formal process is a way to notify even more people, especially those who have the authority to make changes.  Also, for some people there is no one but the complaint process; it’s their only form of protection.

It is important to speak out when a situation has become too close or twisted for the patent (client, student, or similar) to be able to effectively address on his or her own.

Report a trusted advisor or helping professional for any of the following:

  • Sexual contact with a patient
  • Violating the patient’s confidentiality
  • Providing services for which the individual has not been trained or licensed
  • Drug abuse
  • Fraud or other crimes
  • False advertising
  • Paying or accepting payment for patient referral
  • Unprofessional, unethical, or negligent acts
  • Focusing therapy on the licensee’s/registrant’s own problems, rather than the patient’s
  • Serving in multiple roles, i.e., having social relationships with patients, lending them money, employing them, etc.

Adapted from California Board of Psychology What Types of Complaints Does the Board Handle? and the Medical Board of California Complaint Information

Know your options

There are several options for a person who has experienced abuse by a trusted advisor. Knowing one’s entire list of choices will ultimately enable victims of abuse to take the most appropriate action route.

  • Learn about your rights.
  • Visit or call your local county law library. (In California see
  • Make a written log of all the incidents with date, time, any witnesses and locations.
  • Write the ex-advisor stating specific complaints.
  • Call the ex-advisor to discuss the complaints.
  • Notify the employer, agency director, or church hierarchy.
  • Request a mediation session with a qualified mediator.
  • Arrange for private compensation for damages.
  • Report to county patient advocacy office or state authorities.
  • File a licensure complaint.
  • File a complaint with the ethics committee of a professional association.
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
  • File a civil suit for damages.
  • File a criminal complaint to law enforcement.
  • Seek out advocacy groups or peers who have suffered similarly.
  • Seek compensation from the state victims’ fund: California Victim Compensation Fund.
  • Do nothing at all.