What's Your Position On....
I'm livid!! For the 3rd time in as many weeks I've just gotten off a consult call with a supervisor who's dealing with an associate who has started a practice while still an associate. She did it without the supervisor's knowledge and these associates seem to think there's nothing wrong with this.
The Rules Haven't Changed!
This is a rules-change issue being talked about now at the Board/BHEC level but I'm telling you that the problem is already happening and it's bigger than anyone thinks it is. Under current LPC Board Rules an associate is not allowed to do that. Period.
Protect Your Practice From the Entitled
Nevertheless, here are seven guidelines I suggest you follow to protect yourself from the entitled minority that doesn't think the rules apply to them:
1. Maintain a dedicated Supervisory Services page on your website like the one I'm linking to here. Include a statement about how any associate planning to start up a practice whilst under supervision need not apply with you! Borrow my phrasing if you like.
2. Always have a written services agreement between you and each associate you supervise. Include verbiage about your unwillingness to be contracted with anyone who intends to open a practice while under your supervision. Have an attorney draw this up for you.
3. If your current Supervisory Services Agreement does not contain the verbiage suggested in #1, stop what you're doing right now, send your current agreement to your attorney, and have him/her add the appropriate clause.
4. Then, go back to each of your current associates and have them sign an updated version of your contract. (If they won't sign it then that might be a good indicator that something is in the planning stages. Sever your relationship immediately.)
5. If, at any future point, you suspect that one of your currently contracted associates is setting up shop on the side, confront them about it immediately.
6. If your suspicions are confirmed,
- terminate your agreement immediately,
- recover any keys or site security admission cards before they leave,
- inform your clients of the staffing change,
- remove the associate from your website before the end of the day, and
- it might be a good idea to post a dated statement on your website publicly declaring that you and (terminated associate) are no longer associated in any manner, and include an effective date. Nice thing to have if you should need additional "proof" later on.
7. Finally, we have a fiduciary responsibility to file a complaint against another counselor if we become aware that they are knowingly and/or intentionally practicing in a manner that runs afoul of current Board Rules and/or State Law.
I believe the professional thing to do is to inform them of their potential infraction and give them the opportunity to self-correct. I'd document everything and don't forget dates, times, and locations.
Given a rational period of time to make necessary adjustments, if the change has not been made then you/we are required by our Board to police our own and report the offender. Do this via the Board's online complaint process. It's ugly but we have to protect our profession from any rogue elements within that would ruin it for all of us.
The gloves are off and the problem is real. Joe Citizen is not served by impatient associates, and the supervisor's increased liability just isn't worth it. Toe the line supervisors or we'll get run over by those who don't think they have to play by the rules.
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
This post is my opinion based on almost 30 year practice as a mental health provider. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.