What Professionals Does The Texas Behavioral

You have completed your education and earned your professional license to work as a Texas therapist, counselor, psychologist, or social worker. However, a complaint against you can potentially threaten your career. You have too much at stake to try and handle a complaint and potential disciplinary action on your own. Instead, call an experienced psychologist licensed defense lawyer to assist you in protecting your rights and your reputation. By getting legal representation, you can better understand the sanctions you may face in disciplinary proceedings before the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (BHEC)

BHEC Licensing, Regulation, and Oversight

BHEC is the umbrella agency for four boards of examiners:

  • Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors
  • Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
  • Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners

Each Board issues licenses for different types of professionals within its jurisdiction. For instance, the Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists licenses and regulates MFT-Associates and full MFTs. That Board also designates MFTs to supervise MFT-Associates. Similarly, the Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors licenses LPC-Associates and full LPCs and designates LPCs to supervise LPC-Associates. 

The Board of Examiners of Psychologists licenses and regulates Licensed Psychologists, Licensed Psychological Associates, and Licensed Specialists in School Psychology. Finally, the Board of Social Work Examiners oversees Clinical Social Workers, Master Social Workers, and Bachelor Social Workers.

Filing Complaints with BHEC Against Professionals

BHEC has a consolidated complaint process for the four boards of examiners and the professionals that each board licenses and regulates. Generally, individuals must file complaints against these professionals within five years of terminating services to be timely. However, complaints alleging sexual misconduct must be filed within seven years of terminating services or within five years of the patient or client turning 18 years old, whichever occurs later.

BHEC forwards all complaints to its Enforcement Division, which prioritizes complaints based on the following factors, from most important to least important:

  • Cases involving a probability of imminent harm to the public or a member of the public;
  • Cases involving sexual misconduct;
  • Cases involving applicants for licensure; and
  • Cases involving all other violations of state and federal law.

The Division then makes the following initial inquiry to determine whether:

  • the allegations on their face state a violation of the law;
  • the respondent is a licensee of BHEC; and
  • the activities or services involved are exempt from BHEC jurisdiction.

If the complaint meets the first two criteria and the actions complained of are not exempt from BHEC jurisdiction, the complaint proceeds to an investigation. However, suppose the complaint does not meet one or both of the first two criteria or involves actions exempt from BHEC jurisdiction. In that case, the Division will dismiss the complaint as non-jurisdictional and notify the complainant of the dismissal.

When the Division opens an investigation into a complaint, it notifies the licensee of the complaint and requests a response within 30 days. After completing the investigation, the Division uses the results of that investigation to determine whether probable cause exists that the licensee violated the applicable rules or laws. Probable cause means that the facts and circumstances, to the best of the Division’s knowledge, are sufficient for a reasonably prudent person to believe that the licensee committed a violation within the jurisdiction of BHEC. A lack of probable cause leads to the dismissal of the complaint, but a finding of probable cause leads to disciplinary action against the licensee.

Disciplinary Proceedings Against BHEC Licensees

A case in which BHEC has found probable cause first goes to agency staff or a Disciplinary Review Panel for an informal settlement conference. BHEC also may attempt to settle the case before the conference by extending a proposed agreed order or settlement offer to the licensee. If the licensee rejects the settlement offer or requests an informal conference, the licensee and the complainant may present evidence on their behalf separately. After the informal conference, BHEC will propose a recommendation for the complaint’s informal disposition. This informal disposition could involve dismissal of the complaint, remand for further investigation, or a settlement offer involving disciplinary action. 

If the licensee accepts the settlement offer, it goes to the Executive Director of BHEC for approval. However, if the licensee declines the settlement offer, the case moves to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for a contested administrative hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). After both parties present evidence at the contested hearing, the ALJ will issue a proposal for decision (PFD) to BHEC, which accepts, rejects, or modifies the PFD. The PFD may result in sanctions to the licensee if the ALJ and BHEC determine that the evidence supports a rule or law violation. 

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Count on Bertolino LLP, to Defend Your Marriage and Family Counselor License from Disciplinary Action

When a complaint threatens your ability to earn a living, you need a seasoned social work license defense attorney. We will defend you against these attacks on the credentials you have worked so hard to earn. Contact the lawyers of Bertolino LLP today by calling (512) 515-9518 or visiting us online.

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