Raising a Concern about a Psychologist

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The Psychologists Board is mandated to protect the health and safety of members of the New Zealand public in their dealings with psychologists. If you have a concern about a psychologist you should first discuss your concerns with the psychologist.

If that is not possible, or if you remain dissatisfied, you may wish to contact the psychologist's employer or contracting agency (e.g., ACC, or the Family Court).

You can contact us at any stage to discuss your concerns informally or to make a formal complaint or notification where there are fitness or competence concerns.

Please note: Formal complaints related to reports written for the Family Court are managed in accordance with the Family Court's published "Practice Note - Specialist Report Writers" (2016 version).

Our standards

When considering concerns about a practitioner, we take account of the following standards and documents:

You can download these documents from our website. Printed copies of Board documents can be provided on request (email us here: contact us).

What can I expect from the Board?

Our processes are designed to be fair to all parties. If you raise a concern with us about a psychologist, you can expect us to treat you fairly and to explain what will happen at each stage of the complaints process. We will keep you up-to-date with the progress of any investigation, but you should be aware that sometimes this can be a lengthy process.

For legal reasons, and in fairness to the practitioner, we will not normally take further action if information is provided anonymously (where the person providing us with the information does not give a name). However, as our main purpose is to protect the public, if information given anonymously relates to serious and credible concerns about a psychologist, we may investigate further. We consider every case individually.

Where concerns raised indicate that there is an on-going risk of harm to the public this may mean that the psychologist’s practising certificate should be suspended, or that there should be conditions placed on the psychologist's scope of practice. A full investigation or a competence review may be required, or there may be reason to have the psychologist’s physical or mental health assessed.

Where concerns raised are less serious the matter may not need to become a formal complaint. We can discuss other possible options with you for resolving the matter.

Where a formal complaint has been made, but is not serious enough to warrant a full investigation, it may be dealt with by issuing an advisory letter to the psychologist. Again, we consider each case carefully.

The Board are not able to:

  • consider a concern about a practitioner who was not registered as a psychologist at the time of the event(s) that gave rise to the concern;
  • consider concerns about organisations (we are authorised only to deal with concerns about individual psychologists);
  • get directly involved in the service being provided to a client by a psychologist;
  • arrange refunds or compensation;
  • give legal advice;
  • force a psychologist to apologise; or
  • effect any changes to reports written for third parties (such as the Family Court, ACC, or the Parole Board).

How do I raise a concern with the Board?

If you want to discuss a concern with us informally, you can do so by phone, email, letter, or by completing our“Raising a concern” form. After hearing your concern we can explain the options available to you and to the Board to address them.

If you prefer to raise the matter formally (as a formal complaint or as a formal notification regarding fitness or competence concerns) you must provide your information in writing. (You can still use the “Raising a concern” form, by simply checking the appropriate box). Formal notifications and complaints must be processed in accordance with the appropriate sections of the HPCA Act and must:

  • be in writing;
  • identify the psychologist involved; and
  • set out the nature of your concerns in enough detail so that the psychologist can respond to them.

Any formal complaint that alleges that the practice or conduct of a psychologist has affected a health consumer must and will be promptly forwarded by the Board to the Health and Disability Commissioner. [Refer section 64 of the Act.]

You can read more about the Board's complaints processes here.

Keeping your information confidential

When we are considering a formal complaint or notification, the psychologist has to be informed. This will normally include letting him or her know the name of the person who has raised the concern. We will make sure, however, that we remove your private contact details from any documents we send to the psychologist.