ALERT: Effective January 1, 2018, the titles for Marriage and Family Therapist Interns, and Professional Clinical Counselor Interns will change. More Information

Filing Complaints

As an entity of the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Board of Behavioral Sciences (Board) is responsible for consumer protection in California, through licensing and regulation of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) and Licensed Educational Psychologists (LEP). The Board registers and regulates MFT Interns (IMF), Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASW), Professional Clinical Counselor Interns (PCCI) and Continuing Education Providers (through June 30, 2017).

A complaint should be filed by anyone who believes that a licensee, registrant or applicant has engaged in unprofessional conduct, related to his or her professional responsibilities. The Board will review each complaint regardless of the source.

Complaints must be submitted in writing. The most effective complaints are those containing firsthand, verifiable information. While anonymous complaints will be reviewed, they may be impossible to pursue unless they contain documented evidence of the allegations made. Third party complaints filed by someone other than the client may be impossible for the Board to pursue because each therapy client has the legal right to confidentiality of their treatment records. Unless all persons are willing to be contacted and provide authorizations for release of information, the Board may be unable to investigate and prosecute a complaint.

Individuals who file complaints are notified in writing of the status of their complaint or any actions taken as a result of the complaint.

When filing a complaint, please provide a statement, that clearly explains the nature of your complaint. Include as much detail as possible as well as copies of any documentary evidence you might have, e.g., bills, statements, canceled checks, insurance reimbursement statements, correspondence, court documents, etc. Whenever possible, include the name, address and phone number of any witness or other person who can corroborate the issues or events described in your complaint. Include dates, times and locations of therapy when possible. It is not necessary to refer to specific sections of law which may have been violated. The emphasis should be on providing details of the complaint rather than drawing conclusions.

Attached to the Consumer Complaint Form is a Release of Information for Complaints form. This form authorizes the licensee to respond to the Board's inquiries regarding the complaint, and to share confidential information about the complainant/client as needed. Failure to provide a signed release form precludes the Board from contacting the licensee for information. A release form must be completed for each therapist, including any subsequent treating therapists, as well as entities such as hospitals and insurance companies.

  • You may download the complaint form from our website, fill it out and mail it along with any supporting documents you may have to our office. The complaint forms and authorization release can also obtained by contacting the Board office at (916) 574-7830,
  • Or you can file the complaint online using our "Breeze" system.

File a Complaint

Are Psychotherapists Required to Report Unprofessional Conduct by Colleagues?

This question is most frequently raised by licensees/registrants who have been told by a patient that the patient has had a sexual relationship with one or more previous psychotherapists. While no law requires a licensee/registrant to report sexual misconduct by a colleague, he or she may do so on behalf of a client, but only if the client gives written authorization. If you are in this situation, you may find it more comfortable to call the Board and learn more about the complaint process before you file your written complaint.

Licensees/registrants who are told by a patient of sexual involvement with another therapist are required to give the patient the Department of Consumer Affairs brochure Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex.

The brochure explains patient rights and complaint procedures. The brochure is available for downloading or may be obtained free of charge by contacting the Board office at (916) 574-7830.