UKATA Procedures for Handling Ethics Complaints-2022

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 One of the functions of the joint Ethics and Professional Practice Committee (herein after EPPC) is to provide a mechanism whereby UKATA (UK Association for Transactional Analysis) members and members of the public may be protected, while flexibility and creativity in support of personal and professional development is facilitated.

1.2 The EPPC enables UKATA members and clients to obtain prior clarification as to whether a proposed course of action would constitute an ethical violation. Where there is a possibility that procedures or behaviours may operate on the borderline of such violations, the EPPC will be available to help UKATA members and clients to work in an approved way within a framework of checks and balances, perhaps monitored by a third party.

1.3 It is recognised that a request to invoke an ethics charge is indicative of the highest level of professional intent.

1.4 The EPPC provides a structure for confrontation which ensures that members of the UKATA represent and conduct themselves professionally in ways consistent with the type of membership and credentials they have within UKATA.

2. ETHICAL COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

2.1 Preamble

2.1.1 Confidentiality must be observed at all times from the outset by all parties. Both complainant and respondent should be advised of this. All other parties involved are required to maintain confidentiality as to both the content and the process of an ethics complaint.

2.1.2 Any individual having a concern that a member’s professional behaviour is not consistent with their UKATA membership is required to confront the member involved directly and invite the desired change in behaviour. Failure to do so is, in itself, a breach of the Ethics Code. It is recommended that the complainant contacts and invites the confidential help of the Chair of EPPC in this process. The Chair of EPPC may appoint a third party to act as facilitator in assisting the complainant and respondent to reach a resolution acceptable to all parties.

2.1.3 In the event that such a confrontation or facilitation fails to produce the desired result, or is  deemed impractical for any reason, the concerned person may file a formal complaint with the EPPC by making such a complaint in writing and supplying any substantiating evidence. Individuals submitting complaints should be aware that in so doing they are acting to resolve difficulties, that they may be confronted, and that they may seek no reward.

2.2 Limitation of Time

Complaints will not be considered where the alleged violation took place more than three years prior to the first written notification of the complaint to the Chair of EPPC.

3. MAKING A FORMAL COMPLAINT

3.1 Initiating a Complaint

3.1.1 The complaint should be made in writing, detailing the nature of the alleged violation and indicating the section/s of the Ethics Code which are believed to have been breached. The complaint should be accompanied by any substantiating evidence. The complaint should be sent, marked ‘Complaint’ to UKATA Administrator.

3.2 Assessing the Allegation

3.2.1 The Administrator will forward the complaint to the Chair of EPPC, who together with another member of the EPPC will make an initial Assessment. In the event of the unavailability of the Chair or Co-Chair the administrator will appoint a substitute from the EPPC.

3.2.2 In considering the complaint the Chair of EPPC will advise the committee of any legal or procedural implications of the complaint. In doing this s/he will take any appropriate legal or other professional advice where deemed necessary.

3.2.3 The Assessors will form an opinion as to whether or not the allegation is appropriate to the EPPC. In forming their opinion the Assessors will consider only the written complaint and any accompanying evidence. Any evidence offered must follow normal rules of evidence; see notes on guidance for Hearing Panels. Assessors will record their opinion. This process will normally be completed within 14 days; the Assessors will conclude that either:

3.2.3.1 There is reason to believe that there may be a breach of the Ethics Code and the complaint should be investigated, or

3.2.3.2 There is no evidence of a breach of the Ethics Code and the charge should not be investigated.

3.2.4 The Assessors will give their reasons for their conclusions and, if in their opinion, the clause(s) differ from those alleged by the complainant; they will indicate this together with their reasoning.

3.2.5 In the event that the Assessors conclude that there may be a breach of the Ethics Code, the Assessment Committee will recommend to the EPPC that an investigation should take place.

3.2.6 In the event that the Assessors’ opinion is that there is no breach of the Code of Ethics, the Chair of EPPC will normally inform the complainant within 7 days of this opinion. The Chair of EPPC will also inform the complainant of the reasons for this decision and return any documentation.

3.3 Informing both parties:

3.3.1 Where the Assessors have concluded that investigation of the alleged breach of the code is imperative, within seven days the Chair of EPPC will:

3.3.2 Inform the respondent that a complaint has been received which may indicate a breach of the Ethics Code.

3.3.3 Give notice to both complainant and respondent that the alleged breach of the Ethics Code is subject to an investigation which might lead to an ethics hearing and that a Hearing Panel at such a hearing has the power to recommend sanctions, including suspension of membership or expulsion from UKATA.

3.3.4 Include a copy of the complaint submissions to the respondent, together with a letter requiring the respondent to make a written response to the allegations within twenty-eight days of receiving notification of the alleged breach. This reply can be sent by electronic transmission (email attachment) as well as other conventional means.

3.3.5 Inform the respondent that failure to make such a response, without sufficient reason, is in itself a breach of the Code of Ethics and may be assumed by UKATA to indicate that the allegations are valid. In this case a Hearing Panel may be convened without further reference to the member.

3.3.6 Inform the complainant that the assessing panel have decided to proceed with the complaint and that the respondent has been informed. Ask the complainant to submit any additional evidence to the Case Manager within twenty eight days.

3.3.7 Inform the complainant and the respondent that mediation may be made available by the Case Manager and may be offered prior to the Case Manager further investigating the complaint and that the Case Manager will contact them to notify that they are now managing the complaint on behalf of the EPPC.

3.3.8 Appoint a Case Manager from within the EPPC who will be responsible for contacting both parties to notify them of his/her involvement.

3.4 Investigating the Complaint

3.4.1 Should the Assessors deem the alleged breach essential for an investigation the Chair of EPPC will be responsible for expediting the following:

3.4.1.2 The Chair of EPPC will bring the case to the next meeting of the EPPC or convene an extraordinary meeting if this is in excess of twenty-eight (28) days following the receipt of the respondent’s reply.

3.4.1.3 At that meeting the Chair together with the EPPC will appoint an impartial Case Manager from among the members of the Ethics Committee (but not one of the Assessors). Where the respondent is a psychotherapy member or psychotherapy trainee, and there are no impartial members of the committee to act as Case Manager, the Chair may co-opt a qualified member from the membership of UKATA. Both complainant and respondent shall have the right to advise the Chair of EPPC if they have concerns regarding the capacity of the Case Manager to be impartial. Where finding an impartial member of UKATA proves impractical or impossible then the Case Manager shall be co-opted from another member organisation of the HIPS section of the UKCP. (Note: this would usually be where the respondent is so well known in the community that impartiality could not be assured.) The task of the Case Manager includes making a preliminary investigation of the complaint. Where the respondent is a non-psychotherapy professional, the EPPC shall have discretion regarding resourcing an impartial Case Manager. In this event due attention shall be given to ensuring that the Case Manager is suitably qualified.

3.4.2 The Case Manager shall be responsible for:

3.4.2.2 Investigating the complaint and the response, calling on all such additional information as may be required either from the parties to the complaint or from any witnesses or other parties. At the completion of the investigation the Case Manager shall either;

3.4.2.3 Recommend to the EPPC via the Chair, that there is no case to answer and that the allegation should not be proceeded with: in this case the Chair of the EPPC shall convey this information to both parties; or

3.4.2.4 Offer a mediator to facilitate an outcome acceptable to both parties where this seems to the Case Manager to be practicable and both parties agree. If both parties accept this option the Case Manager will be responsible for appointing a mediator in liaison with the Chair of the EPPC. Both parties will be informed that the outcome of mediation will be reviewed by the EPPC for ratification. Where such an agreement is reached, the agreement, together with any action or procedure agreed by the respondent shall be ratified by the EPPC. Should the EPPC not ratify the agreement, the EPPC may refer the complaint back to the Case Manager; or

3.4.2.5 Upon finding that there has been a minor breach of the Code, notify the Chair of EPPC and make recommendations for appropriate sanctions. The Chair of EPPC shall take this outcome to the EPPC for ratification and shall then notify both parties of the outcome; or

3.4.2.6 Recommend that the Chair of EPPC appoint a Hearing Panel to determine the complaint.

3.4.7 The Case Manager, in gathering information, shall always be open to facilitating a resolution of the issues through suggesting any appropriate line of action which is agreed upon by all parties including the EPPC. When such a recommendation is ratified by the EPPC, the EPPC is responsible for official recording and enactment.

3.4.8 Once an UKATA member is aware that, as a result of the allegation, their current or potential course of action may not conform to UKATA Code of Ethics or UKATA Professional Practice Guidelines, she or he shall cease immediately from those actions until UKATA Complaints Procedures has been followed and a resolution obtained. Failure to observe this course of action may be taken as evidence of a conscious desire to breach or to continue to breach the relevant Section(s) of the Code(s).

4 ADJUDICATION PROCEDURES

4.1 The adjudication procedure by a Hearing Panel exists to examine complaints in a formal manner and to determine the validity of such complaints and, if the complaint is found to be valid, to recommend sanctions as appropriate. Where there is more than one complaint against a member they shall be determined at the same hearing. Should there be more than one complaint against a member from different complainants they may be heard separately or together at the discretion of the Ethics and Professional Practice Committee.

4.2 If, in the judgement of the Case Manager, a hearing is warranted it shall, on the instructions of the EPPC, be conducted by a Hearing Panel.

4.3 The EPPC will appoint a Hearing Panel of three people none of whom shall be either the original Assessor(s) or Case Manager. The Panel may comprise members outside of UKATA (and in the case where a psychotherapy member is complained against, they shall belong to the HIPS section of the UKCP) and must include at least one certified member from UKATA with at least two years psychotherapy experience post certification. The Chair of the Hearing Panel must be an UKATA member. Members appointed to the Hearing Panel have a duty to declare any interest which may threaten their impartiality. The Case Manager shall send a copy of the Instructions re a Hearing Panel to the complainant, respondent and members of the hearing panel at least ten days before the hearing.

4.4 At this stage of the procedure, the names of the members of the Panel shall be notified to both parties. Both parties have the right to ask one member of the Panel to stand down. In the event that any member of the Hearing Panel is excluded, an alternative member shall be appointed by the Ethics Committee as a replacement. NOTE: The Panel shall always include one member of UKATA who shall act as Chair.

4.5 A date for a formal Hearing Panel will be scheduled:

4.5.1 To take place within sixty (60) days of the appointment of the Hearing Panel members. The date of the Hearing will, whenever possible, be agreed by all parties by telephone before being confirmed in writing. In the event that the parties to the complaint are unable to agree a date, then the Hearing Panel shall have the final decision in setting the date and place of a hearing. In exceptional circumstances and at the Panel’s absolute discretion, the date may be set outside the sixty day limit but, in any event, will usually be held within ninety (90) days of the Panel’s appointment. The decision of the Panel on the date and place of the hearing is binding on all parties.

4.5.2 Both parties will attend the hearing, usually at the same time. In certain circumstances it may be considered desirable that the complainant and the respondent have no direct communication. This is at the discretion of the Chair of the Hearing Panel. Each party may be accompanied by a supporter who may represent them. Both parties must notify the Case Manager ten days prior to the meeting of the Panel if it is their intention to bring a legal representative, and/or where they want their representative to speak on their behalf.

4.6 All written evidence and submissions must be submitted to the Chair of EPPC not less than twenty-one days (21 days) before the hearing date. Such papers are circulated to the Hearing Panel members, the complainant and the respondent not less than ten days before the hearing date.

4.7 New evidence may only be admitted on the day of the Hearing at the discretion of the Panel and will be in the form of short oral or short written submissions. Either side may be granted a brief adjournment in order to consider their response to any such new evidence.

4.8 The Hearing Panel may invite witnesses or advisors to attend the Hearing to answer questions about their written submissions.

4.9 Hearing protocols require that both parties and their supporters be present while:

4.9.1 A summary of the complainant’s case is given by the complainant and any witnesses. The respondent or their representative may put questions to the complainant regarding their case. Questions will at all times be directed through the Chair of the Panel.

4.9.2 A summary of the case of the respondent is presented by either themselves or their representative.

4.9.3 The complainant or their representative puts questions, through the Chair, to the respondent and/or witnesses.

4.9.4 When the Chair is satisfied that the Hearing Panel has gained all the clarification required or possible, all parties but the Panel are asked to withdraw.

4.10 The Hearing Panel then determines whether or not a breach of the designated Code(s) has occurred. A majority vote is required for dismissal of the complaint, or for a finding that the Code has been breached.

4.10.1 Both parties are recalled to the hearing and the finding is pronounced. The Panel then asks the complainant to leave and, if there has been a finding of a breach of the Code, may move to discuss issues with the respondent. These include a collegial discussion of the breach, and of the respondent’s understanding and practice. There is opportunity for the respondent to offer mitigation. The panel will then ask the respondent to leave, notifying them that they will receive a decision regarding sanctions, through the Chair of the EPPC. A majority is required for sanctions to be recommended and a unanimous decision in the case of suspension or termination of right to practice. Within fourteen (14) days of the Hearing, the Hearing Panel advises the Chair of EPPC of its conclusion in writing, together with its recommendations as to sanctions that might be applied. The Chair of EPPC will then discuss the outcome with the EPPC and then inform the complainantand respondent of the outcome, including sanctions where applicable. The timing of the notifications will be within seven (7) days of the EPPC meeting following receipt of the Panel’s findings. Notification will include notice of the right to appeal and the time limit for either party to notify their intent to appeal. In the event that the sanction is either suspension or removal from the register, the Chair of the EPPC will notify the Chair of UKATA for Council ratification of the sanction.

4.11 The application of sanctions will take into account the best outcome for the respondent. Sanctions may include but are not limited to the following:

4.11.1 A warning or requirement to change or to effect improvement in a specific way, or to take suitable actions such as further training or additional and/or specific supervision, any of these to be completed within a specified minimum time frame.

4.11.2 Monitoring for a specific period by a supervisor approved by the Ethics Committee and paid for by the member, in relation to the specific practice of the member. The EPPC may require that the supervisor to provide a periodic or final report and if the reports are unsatisfactory the EPPC may extend the period of sanctions.

4.11.3 Suspension of accreditation, authority to supervise or train, recognised status or membership for a set period or until certain conditions are met, as recommended by the Ethics and Professional Practice Committee and confirmed by the Council of UKATA. 4.11.4 Termination of accreditation/membership, authority to supervise or train, recognised status or membership.

4.12 In the event that the member is unwilling to join in and assist in the process of reaching a resolution of a complaint or to accept or co-operate in meeting the conditions of a sanction as defined in 4.11.1 – 4.11.4, then the Hearing Panel may recommend termination of recognised status or membership in place of any alternative outcome.

4.13 The EPPC automatically reviews, for implementation, the recommendations of the Hearing Panel. If the recommendation is for suspension or termination they will inform the Officers of UKATA within ten (10) days after the EPPC’s review of the finding of the Hearing Panel. Suspension or termination will be enacted by the Council of UKATA on the request of the officers.

5 APPEALS PROCEDURE

5.1 The complainant or respondent may appeal against the recommendation of the Hearing Panel. Any appeal shall be limited to a review of the procedures, evidence and findings; new evidence will not be accepted in the consideration of an appeal. To initiate an appeal, the intent should be notified in writing to the Chair of EPPC within thirty days (30) of receiving the findings of the Hearing Panel.

5.2 The appellant shall be directed by the Chair of EPPC to an External Moderator of UKATA who will review the case. The Chair of EPPC will forward to the Moderator all papers relating to the complaint, the Investigation and the Hearing, within fourteen (14) days of being notified that the appellant has formally appealed.

5.3 The result of the appeal will be communicated by the Moderator of UKATA to the Chair of EPPC, giving reasons for the decision. The Chair of EPPC will then notify the EPPC, the complainant and the respondent of these findings. The EPPC will be responsible for implementing any actions or procedures resulting from the outcome of the appeal.

5.4 After completion of UKATA appeals procedures, UKCP registered psychotherapists have the right of appeal on grounds of improper procedure, to the Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy Section (HIPS) of the UKCP. Appeals not resolved by HIPS may be referred to the governing body of the UKCP.

6 PROTOCOLS GOVERNING COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

6.1 The disposition of any complaint investigated by the EPPC or a Hearing Panel and all records of the investigation will be archived for seven years from the date of the formal complaint. The papers will be placed in a coded sealed file to be held by the current Chair of EPPC. Only the Chair of EPPC or another person appointed by Council will be authorised to remove these records. The Chair of EPPC will maintain, separately from this record and in a secure place, a record of the file codes, listed against member’s names. The Chair of Council will be informed of how this list may be accessed in the event of the non-availability of the Chair of EPPC through illness or other impediment. A file will only be retrieved and accessed by the Chair of EPPC in the event of a further complaint against the member. Where a new Chair of EPPC is appointed, all files and codes are to be passed on to the incoming Chair of EPPC.

6.2 Failure of the complainant to attend investigatory meetings and/or the Hearing Panel or to respond to requests for information, without good reason or due notice, means the complaint shall be regarded as withdrawn and the respondent is automatically exonerated with regard to that complaint. The complainant’s right to appeal is also lost.

6.3 Failure of the respondent to attend investigatory meetings and/or the Hearing Panel or to respond to requests for information, without good reason or due notice, may result in the Hearing Panel recommending the termination of membership of that UKATA member. The respondent will also lose their right to appeal.

6.4 Findings of complaints procedures shall be notified to the complainant, the respondent, the HIPC of the UKCP (in the case of UKCP-registered psychotherapists) and to other parties directly involved. In addition, in the event that a respondent has their membership suspended or terminated, such findings shall be reported to the full membership of UKATA by way of a public notice in the association newsletter or by other mailing. UKATA Procedures for Handling Ethics Complaints

6.5 All persons taking part in UKATA Complaints Procedure shall act in a manner which does not breach confidentiality; neither will they attempt to influence the outcome of the investigation. In the event that confidentiality is breached or a party to the complaint attempts to influence the process or outcome, the EPPC will have the power to terminate the proceedings, or to order an immediate hearing or to dispose of the complaint in any other way which is deemed appropriate. Members who breach confidentiality or attempt to influence the outcome may face an ethics charge in respect of their behaviour.

6.6 The resignation of a respondent will not be accepted until UKATA Complaints Procedure has been completed.

6.7 UKATA will not be responsible for travel or any other expenses incurred either by the complainant or the respondent in connection with any stage of the complaint.

6.8 In the event that a potential complainant only attains an ability to complain after the three year statute of limitation has lapsed, s/he may still seek privately some form of resolution to his or her concern. For reasons relating to the availability and quality of evidence this resolution will not include invoking the formal Complaints Procedure.

6.9 A complainant can withdraw their complaint at any time. A withdrawn complaint cannot be resubmitted at a later date. All documentation relating to said complaint will be destroyed.

6.10 Complaints made anonymously will not be considered and all material relating to them will be destroyed.

6.11 All UKATA communications regarding complaints will be made through the EPPC, addressed to the Chair of EPPC. Communications not so channeled will not be recognised by UKATA.

6.12 UKATA is required to report annually to the Registration Board of the UKCP regarding the number of formal complaints received, their nature and their disposition.

6.13 All correspondence regarding the setting of schedules or which contains points of fact germane to the complaint must be sent by Recorded Delivery. Correspondence which is claimed to be lost will be assumed not to have been sent unless evidence of dispatch can be produced. Lost correspondence is not grounds for changing the timetable of the procedure or affecting its progress in any way.

6.14 The complainant and the respondent must act and appear in person. Powers of attorney will not be accepted except under extraordinary circumstances which must have the prior approval of the Ethics and Professional Practice

Committee. Complaints or correspondence concerning Ethics to be sent to:

The Administrator UKATA

Suite 3 Broadway House, 1

49-151 St Neots Road

Hardwick

Cambridge CB23 7QJ

Correspondence to be marked ‘Complaint’ Acknowledgements to ITAA, EATA, AHPP February 1999 Section 3 Amended July 2013