Pennsylvania Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor License Defense

Acquiring a license and/or certification as a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor in Pennsylvania represents a significant investment in your career. After years of education and many hours of field experience, you've finally achieved a fulfilling career helping others.

However, a single complaint against your license can jeopardize everything.

Your license and certification are essential to your livelihood, and they are, in a sense, your most valuable assets. A solitary accusation of misconduct can throw your future into uncertainty. The Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors take all complaints seriously and can revoke your license based on a preponderance of evidence. Likewise, if you've been certified as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC or CAADC) by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, that certification can be at risk if you're accusing their Code of Ethics.

The best way to avoid these negative outcomes is to hire a seasoned Pennsylvania license defense attorney at the first hint of trouble. The LLF Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have extensive experience defending licensed professionals against allegations of misconduct in Pennsylvania. They understand the workings of the Pennsylvania licensing boards and will strive to help you achieve the most favorable outcomes. Reach out to the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to explore your options.

What Types of Accusations Might Lead to the Loss of My License or Certification?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has established rigid standards of professionalism and conduct for licensed and certified counselors. Most revocations result from violations of these standards or other breaches of public trust. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Substance abuse: As a substance abuse counselor, having your own active addiction to drugs or alcohol would disqualify you from assisting others in this area. It also calls into question your ability to take care of patients competently.
  • Sexual misconduct: Engaging in sexual relationships with patients/clients, sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, or unwelcome sexual advances can all lead to license revocation.
  • Dual relationships: Additional relationships with clients beyond a counselor role, such as financial or familial connections, are considered unethical and may result in license loss.
  • Fraud: Overbilling or up-coding insurance claims, overcharging clients, etc., are examples of fraud that can result in loss of your license and/or certification.
  • Record-keeping/confidentiality violations: Failing to maintain counselor-client confidentiality or improper handling of records and client information, whether intentional or not, can endanger your license.
  • Acting outside your qualifications: Offering therapy or treatment beyond the scope of your license or certification may result in the loss of either/both.

Pennsylvania's License Disciplinary Process

Pennsylvania has a streamlined complaint filing process where members of the public can file complaints against licensed professionals in the state--including substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) manages and investigates all complaints, which can be filed by anyone, but which typically come from patients, former patients, coworkers, other practitioners, and occasionally insurance companies. Once a complaint is filed with the BPOA, the process proceeds as follows:


The BPOA assigns a Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) investigator to examine the complaint. You may be asked to provide a written response. The investigator interviews the complainant and any witnesses and gathers relevant documents. If there is insufficient evidence to support the complaint, the case is closed; otherwise, it advances to the next stage.

Consent Agreement

If the evidence against you is strong, the Board may propose a consent agreement as an alternative to a formal hearing. This is a legally binding agreement in which you voluntarily accept the disciplinary action determined by the Board. Consent agreements are not always the best option, but a skilled attorney can negotiate terms within them that allow you to retain your license or at least provide a path toward reinstatement. (Do not sign a consent agreement without consulting an attorney.)

Formal Hearing

If no consent agreement is reached or offered, you will be summoned to a formal hearing before a state examiner where you must show cause why your license should not be revoked. Having official legal representation is highly recommended at this stage. The Board then makes a final decision on disciplinary actions, ranging from a formal reprimand to license suspension or revocation.

Why Hire a Pennsylvania License Defense Attorney?

In Pennsylvania license defense cases, there is no presumption of innocence when you're accused of wrongdoing. The state licensing and certification boards act more like prosecutors than judges because their primary responsibility is to protect the public, not their licensees. Consequently, when they receive a complaint, they actively seek evidence against you and require only a low burden of proof to determine if disciplinary action is warranted. This puts you at a disadvantage from the moment a complaint is filed.

Engaging an attorney who is familiar with the Pennsylvania licensing process and knows how to defend against misconduct allegations can greatly increase your chances of retaining your license and career. Your attorney can investigate the complaint, help gather evidence to counter it, prepare you for questioning by investigators or during a hearing, and negotiate with the BPOA and the Board for the best possible resolution. This could involve seeking to have them agree to lesser penalties or seeking a complete dismissal of the complaint.

If you are a Pennsylvania substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor accused of misconduct, it is vital not to navigate the disciplinary process alone. Your livelihood is at stake, and facing the process without legal representation may result in severe consequences. The LLF Law Firm Professional License Defense team can help you obtain a favorable resolution and save your career. Call the LLF Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use our online form.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.