As a New York licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), you've devoted extensive effort to building your career—from years of schooling and field experience to earning the trust of your clients. Your job also comes with high stakes: the counsel you provide couples and families can bring about either positive or negative results in their lives—which is why it's highly regulated by law.
Unfortunately, a single complaint or allegation against you could jeopardize all the work you've put into building your hard career work by endangering your license. The New York Office of the Professions (OP) is highly committed to public safety and will aggressively investigate allegations of misconduct. If you find yourself in this situation, whether due to a misunderstanding, misstep, or lapse in judgment, having a good New York licensed defense attorney could make the difference between saving your career and ending it.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his license defense team have worked with many clients dealing with disciplinary issues, and they know the best steps to take to minimize the damage to your license and your career. To discuss your case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Types of Allegations Could Jeopardize Your License?
As marriage and family therapy relies on the public's trust, any offense that puts this confidence at risk or which violates state ethics regulations can result in loss of license. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Relationship misconduct. It is strictly prohibited to engage in any amorous or sexual relationship with a client, as well as other inappropriate behaviors such as unwarranted intimate advances between coworkers/clients and having dual relationships with clients (e.g., monetary or family) that have the potential to be exploitative. If these rules are violated, disciplinary action may ensue.
- Fraudulent activities. Fraudulent practices can take many forms, from submitting exaggerated billing to insurance companies and taking advantage of patients through overcharging them to making deceptive advertising claims.
- Substance abuse. If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, your professional license may be in jeopardy as the OP may question whether your addiction could impact your competence in counseling others.
- Misrepresenting credentials. Making deceptive claims about your qualifications may cause you to lose your license, and treating or providing therapy outside the scope of your license can result in serious disciplinary action.
- Record-keeping/confidentiality violations. Counselor-client confidentiality is a priority that must be maintained and respected, and any violation of records or disclosure of confidential information (even unintentionally) could lead to disciplinary measures.
- Criminal convictions. If you are found guilty of offenses that involve moral depravity, sexual misconduct, or violence, you may be deemed ineligible to hold a license as a marriage and family therapist.
How the License Disciplinary Process Works
The OP has implemented a streamlined process for processing misconduct allegations made against licensed individuals, including MFTs. The disciplinary process typically begins when a member of the public files a complaint against you with the OP (most likely a former client, coworker, colleague, insurance company, etc.). From there, the process goes through the following stages.
Once a complaint is filed, the OP will conduct an investigation to look for evidence to substantiate the claim. During this phase, they may communicate with the complainant and any potential witnesses, get relevant evidence and documents, and other investigative steps. If the OP probe finds insufficient evidence of wrongdoing, they will usually drop the complaint at this stage; however, if they do find enough evidence, they will forward the matter to the Department of Education Board of Regents for a more in-depth evaluation.
At this stage, the Board may offer you the opportunity to sign a consent order, which is an agreement that admits to certain facts and the violation of specific provisions of law. This can be beneficial in some cases as it allows you to avoid having your case go before a hearing panel; however, it also means that any disciplinary action is final and cannot be appealed. If disciplinary action is inevitable, a consent order may give your attorney a chance to negotiate for lenient penalties and minimize the damage to your career.
Hearing and Final Determination
If your case progresses to the hearing stage, you will be summoned to appear before the Board and asked to present evidence against the complaint or explain why your license should remain active. Having an attorney in this process can have a great influence on how the matter is resolved. After deliberations, the Board will make their final decision regarding disciplinary measures against you, which may range from warnings and fines to the full cancellation of your license.
Improve Your Prospects with an Experienced License Defense Attorney
If your MFT license is under investigation, it's important to realize that you do not have an assured presumption of innocence. The OP has a responsibility to ensure public safety above all else, and the Board of Regents possesses expansive power granting them the right to issue discipline based only on a preponderance of the evidence. The best way to overcome this disadvantage is to have an experienced licensed defense attorney, someone with a specific understanding of how this process works. A good attorney can get involved early in the process by reviewing the complaint, developing an effective response, negotiating with the OP and the Board for lenient terms, and if necessary, defending you at a hearing. You have a much better chance of receiving a favorable outcome (i.e., one that allows you to keep your license) with an experienced attorney helping you.
Don't let one allegation of misconduct ruin your hard work and career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team are here to protect your interests and find a solution that will help save your license. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.