Complaints are managed by the Ethics & Professional Standards Committee which acts on behalf of the Executive of APCP with regard the development of the Association’s code of conduct and of overseeing the Associations professional standards.
This document sets out a structured complaints procedure that is binding on all members of the Association. While it cannot cover all eventualities its aim is to protect the public as well as clients, practitioners and the Association from professional misconduct. These complaints and disciplinary procedures are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure they meet with current needs and practices.
This complaint procedure supersedes that which has been in effect since the establishment of APCP.
1.1. This complaints and disciplinary procedure applies to all members of the Association, including student members, pre accredited members and accredited members (either Counsellor or Psychotherapy members). Complaints can only be made against registered members of the Association.
1.2. All complaints to the Association must be made in writing stating as clearly as possible the person’s name, address, contact number, the practitioner they are making the complaint against and the nature of the complaint.
1.3. The person complaining must sign the complaint whether this is received through another third party or directly. The Association will not address anonymous complaints under the laws of natural and legal justice.
1.4. Where a formal complaint is received by the Association, the Ethics & Professional Standards Committee, which has responsibility to consider issues relating to fitness to practice, will put in place structures to investigate such complaints within a period of 21 days.
1.5. All complaints will be reviewed and assessed by a professionally competent subcommittee of the Ethics & Standards Committee of the Association. It shall consist of a minimum of 3 members, which may comprise members of the Association or external experts and will be chaired by a member of the Ethics & Standards Committee in order to decide if the complaint constitutes a breach of the code of ethics. If it does, this working group or an appointed person by APCP will interview the complainant.
1.6. On behalf of the Ethics & Standards Committee, this subcommittee shall:
- Give written notice of the complaint to the member against whom the complaint has been made (hereinafter called the respondent) accompanied by copies of the original complaint,
- Form a view as to whether the complaint forms a valid complaint,
- Fix a date for the adjudication of the complaints and to inform the respondent of such date,
- Issue all parties with the written procedures to be followed.
1.7. The proceedings of the working group shall in all respects be in accordance with the rules of evidence and natural justice. The subcommittee shall be entitled at any stage of the proceedings to appoint any person professionally qualified to advise them on any matter arising and if considered necessary to attend the adjudication to give such advice.
1.8. The complainant and the respondent shall at all stages of the proceedings be entitled at their own expense to legal or other representation, to give oral evidence to the subcommittee, and to call witnesses. Where such evidence is given each party or his/her representatives shall be entitled to cross-examine the other party or his/her witnesses. At the conclusion of the evidence the complainant and the respondent may make representations to the subcommittee.
1.9. The conduct of the proceedings shall in all respects be determined by the subcommittee and be consistent with these guidelines.
2.0. Following the investigation, the subcommittee shall recommend to the Associations Executive that they take one or more of the following courses of action:
- Dismiss the complaint as unfounded.
- Give a written reprimand to the practitioner in regard to future conduct.
- Direct the Respondent to engage in further supervision, training or other such actions as considered appropriate.
- Suspend membership for a period of up to 3 years.
- Suspend membership completely.
2.1. The Executive Committee shall without delay notify the complainant and the respondent of the decision of the subcommittee.
2.2. The respondent may within 21 days of the date of the notification give written notice of appeal to the Executive against any disciplinary action proposed or enforced by the Executive. Thereafter the Ethics & Professional Standards Committee shall ensure that another separate subcommittee is convened to consider an appeal. This committee may include members of the subcommittee which heard the initial complaint or may hear evidence from them, but with the exclusion of the former chair. A date will be set for the consideration of the appeal, and the respondent notified.
2.3. The subcommittee, hearing the appeal shall re-convene and commence their consideration of the appeal from procedural point1.7
2.4. Under the laws of the Irish constitution and EU law members have specific rights which cannot be interfered with through this or any other form of complaints procedure, consequently when requested to do so by a court the subcommittee dealing with the complaint may be suspended.
2.5. The Association itself may act as the complainant against members whom it believes have been in breach of the code of conduct or ethics or for other grave matters that bring the Association or its members into disrepute.
2.6. Where a complaint is made of a member alleging an activity that is illegal under Irish or European law, information regarding that complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate authorities as appropriate.
2.7. Where a court overturns the decision of the Ethics & Professional Standards Committee or one of its properly constituted subcommittees the adjudication of the court will be binding.