Potential Sanctions in Disciplinary Complaints by the Texas Behavorial

The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (BHEC) is a state agency that licenses, monitors, and regulates the following licensed professionals:

  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Professional Counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers

BHEC receives and investigates complaints against these licensees as part of its regulatory duties. If BHEC determines that disciplinary action against a licensee is necessary, then the agency is responsible for initiating the action. 

Failure to comply with any aspect of the Act can lead to disciplinary action by BHEC, which can result in severe sanctions. After you have completed the education and training necessary to become one of these professionals, you have a lot at stake. Therefore, if you receive a complaint against your license, we urge you to seek assistance from an experienced social work license defense attorney . 

BHEC Sanction Guidelines

22 Tex. Admin. Code §884.20 provides standard disciplinary sanctions and guidelines to promote uniformity in assessing sanctions in the professions that BHEC regulates. Standard disciplinary sanctions, which generally are appliable to single violations with no aggravating or mitigating factors, include the following in descending order of severity:

  • Revocation;
  • Suspension for a definite period;
  • Suspension plus probation of any or all of the suspension period;
  • Probation of the license for a definite period;
  • Reprimand; and
  • Administrative penalty.

Furthermore, BHEC may place specific conditions or restrictions on an individual’s license, such as the following:

  • Consultation with the licensee on matters of ethics rules, laws, and standards of practice by a licensed professional approved by the Council;
  • Restrictions on the licensee’s ability to provide certain types of services or to provide services to certain classes of patients;
  • Restrictions on the licensee’s supervision of others in a particular area of practice;
  • Completion of a specified number of continuing education hours on specified topics approved in advance by the Council in addition to any minimum number required of all licensees as a condition of licensure;
  • Taking and passing with the minimum required score of any examination required by the Council of a licensee; and
  • Undergoing a psychological or medical evaluation by a qualified professional approved in advance by the Council and undergoing any treatment recommended pursuant to the evaluation.

This section also lists some common violations and the potential sanction for each, which include the following:

  • §882.30 Display of License – administrative penalty
  • §882.31 Advertising Restrictions – reprimand
  • §882.32 Duty to Update Name and Address – administrative penalty
  • §882.33 Disclosure of Proprietary Examination Materials or Information Prohibited – suspension
  • §882.34 Filing of False or Misleading Information with the Council – suspension
  • §884.30 Cooperation with Council Investigations – suspension
  • §884.31 Notice to the Public of Complaint Process – administrative penalty
  • §884.32 Reportable Legal Action and Discipline – administrative penalty

BHEC Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

BHEC may also consider various aggravating and mitigating factors when determining the appropriate sanction for licensees who have violated laws or rules that govern their professions. 

Aggravating factors, which may increase the severity of unprofessional conduct and thus the sanction, include the following:

  • Physical or emotional harm and the type and severity thereof;
  • Economic harm to any individual or entity and the severity thereof;
  • Increased potential for harm to the public;
  • Attempted concealment of misconduct;
  • Premeditated conduct;
  • Intentional misconduct;
  • Prior written warnings or written admonishments from any supervisor or governmental agency, or official regarding statutes or regulations about the licensee’s practice;
  • Prior misconduct of a similar or related nature;
  • Disciplinary history;
  • Likelihood of future misconduct of a similar nature;
  • Violation of a Council order;
  • Failure to implement remedial measures to correct or alleviate harm arising from the misconduct;
  • Lack of rehabilitative effort or potential; and
  • Improper or inappropriate motive.

Mitigating factors, which can reduce the severity of the licensee’s conduct and, thus, the sanction, may include the following:

  • Acceptance of responsibility;
  • Self-reporting of unprofessional conduct;
  • Implementation of remedial measures to correct or mitigate harm arising from the unprofessional conduct;
  • Good-faith motive;
  • Rehabilitative efforts or potential; and
  • Prior community service. 

Classification of Sanctions by BHEC for Marriage and Family Therapists

Texas law also maintains separate sanction guidelines for the different professions that BHEC regulates. For instance, under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §801.302, BHEC classifies violations of the laws and rules that govern marriage and family therapists into Levels 1 through 4. Level 1 violations are the most severe, and Level 4 sanctions are the least severe, as follows:

  • Level One–Revocation of license for violations evidencing intentional or gross misconduct or causing or posing a high degree of harm to the public or requiring severe punishment as a deterrent to the licensee, or other licensees.
  • Level Two–Suspension of license for violations involving less misconduct, harm, or need for deterrence than Level One violations, but requiring a period of suspension of licensure.
  • Level Three– Probated license suspension for violations not involving enough harm, misconduct, or need for deterrence to warrant suspension of licensure yet severe enough to warrant monitoring of the licensee to ensure future compliance. These violations may contain probationary terms as needed.
  • Level Four—Reprimand for violations involving inadvertent or relatively minor misconduct or rule violations not directly involving the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

Additionally, BHEC may assess an administrative penalty for any violation instead of, or in addition to, other disciplinary actions. The maximum amount of an administrative penalty is $5,000 for each violation, but each day a violation continues or occurs is a separate violation to impose a penalty.

We Are Here to Defend You Before the BHEC

When BHEC notifies you that you are the subject of a complaint, you may not know what to do first. If you find yourself in this situation, your first call should be to a therapist license defense attorney. We stand ready to represent your interests and defend you against the allegations you are facing. Call us today at (512) 856-6596 to reach the offices of Bertolino LLP or contact us online.

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form