Inquiry and Complaint Process

The Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapist of Canada (ACCT) has been incorporated since August 14, 2013, under the British Columbia Cooperative Association Act, 1999. ACCT is dedicated to protecting the public through regulating and establishing the ACCT Code of Ethics and ACCT  Standards of Practice .  The Association grants the use of the designations “Registered Therapeutic Counsellor” (RTC), “Master Therapeutic Counsellor” (MTC) and "Registered Counselling Supervisor"(RCS) to counsellors who are voluntarily registered with the Association. RTC, MTC and RCSs have satisfied rigorous standards and successfully completed comprehensive supervision.

Registered Therapeutic Counsellors are accountable to the Association and to the public through the ACCT Code of Ethics and ACCT Standards of Practice, as well as through its complaint, investigation and discipline procedures. Protecting the public is done initially through a rigorous registration process, and when a complaint is lodged, through an inquiry process. The Association’s Ethics Committee receives and investigates complaints against members.

Each inquiry or complaint is responded to in accordance with the ACCT rules, and in keeping with the rules of administrative fairness and natural justice.  In particular, confidentiality is maintained throughout the investigative process, except where disclosure may be required by law.  To the extent that resources permit, complaints are investigated in a timely fashion.

The Complaint Process

During the complaint process, ACCT works with the counsellor to ensure accountability to the ACCT Code of Ethics and ACCT  Standards of Practice.

ACCT will address complaints when:

  • The complaint involves concerns about a current member of ACCT.
  • The events that gave rise to the complaint occurred at a time when the counsellor was a member of ACCT.
  • The concern is about a potential breach of the Code of Ethics and Practice Standards for ACCT.
  • The concern(s) are expressed on behalf of the complainant or a minor for whom you are guardian, and either you or that minor were clients of the ACCT member and/or received counselling services from him or her.

The types of concerns ACCT can address

Please review the  Code of Ethics and ACCT Standards of Practice before placing your complaint, to determine if your concern is one that ACCT can address.

ACCT is not able to deal with the Complaint if:

  • There are current legal proceedings involved.
  • The complaint concerns a health care facility, institution or agency.
  • The complaint is about business practices outside the ACCT Code of Ethics and ACCT  Standards of Practice.

The Ethics Committee cannot:

  • Terminate membership. This is under the jurisdiction the ACCT Board.
  • Negotiate any financial restitution.
  • Investigate allegations of criminal behaviour.
  • Make rulings on legal matters.

GETTING STARTED WITH THE COMPLAINT PROCESS

  1. A formal complaint must be made in writing and include the counsellor’s name to verify with membership services that the counsellor is currently a registered member.
  2. No complaint will be registered until you choose to make your complaint formal.
  3. If the counsellor is not an ACCT member, you will receive an email written notification.
  4. When a formal complaint has been received and verified it will be submitted to the Ethics Committee for review and follow-up.

The Ethics Committee will:

  1. Determine and/or identify the violation(s) and notify the counsellor of the complaint. If violations are determined, a copy of the complaint material will be sent to the counsellor. This will include the request for a written response within 30 days.
  2. Review the initial response provided by the counsellor; a copy of the counsellor’s response will be provided to the complainant.
  3. Propose a resolution to the complaint to the parties involved OR dismiss the complaint.
  4. Determine if further information is required, an investigation may be launched.
  5. Propose a resolution of the complaint by either negotiating a Consent Agreement with both parties or dismiss the case.
  6. Refer the complaint to the ACCT Membership Committee in extraordinary circumstances where discipline is required and membership may be suspended or removed.
  7. Provide follow-up letters to the parties at the conclusion of step 4 and 6.

Sanction Agreement

If the Ethics Committee deems it necessary a Sanction Agreement will be created.  Typically a Sanction Agreement contains:

  • Specific remedial activities that the counsellor agrees to undertake, at their own expense, in order to address the area(s) of concern identified by the complaint process, for example: course work, clinical supervision, rewriting reports etc.
  • Responsibilities of the counsellor to comply with and complete the Sanction Agreement.
  • A time line for completion of the remedial activities. You will receive A letter will be sent to the complainant when all the items in a Sanction Agreement are completed and the complaint process is closed. If the Sanction Agreement is not completed as set out, then further action may be taken.

Every effort is made to resolve complaints in a timely manner; in rare instances it may take up to a year.  The complainant will receive a summary of the case outcome in writing. In situations where the complainant deems the Ethics Committee’s decision as unsatisfactory, the complainant has the right to appeal the decisions of the Ethics Committee to the ACCT Board of Directors.