A7 Complaints Procedure

A7   COMPLAINTS  PROCEDURE

The purpose of this document is to describe the process for handling complaints from Training Patients against Candidates seeking accreditation with the Association of Jungian Analysts, where the candidate is already registered with the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

All candidates are expected to comply with the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice (Code) and this Complaints Procedure is to address complaints relating to alleged breaches of the Code.

This Procedure only refers to AJA Training Patients – see below for Definitions. Candidates who already have established practices will have complaints from any other patient handled directly by their registering body, UKCP or BPC and under the auspices of their first qualifying organisation.   

For candidates registered with UKCP or BPC: it should be noted that if a complaint arises from work with a patient prior to them becoming an AJA Training Patient then the patient may make direct complaint to their registering body, in which case the UKCP or BPC (whichever is appropriate) procedure supercedes anything written here. Should a candidate receive notice of such a complaint then the Chair of Ethics and the Chair of Training should be notified immediately.

Definitions:

Candidate – a UKCP/BPC registered therapist undertaking further professional training with AJA, one component of which is supervised clinical work. 


Training Patient – a patient who has been assessed and designated a Training Patient for the purposes of fulfilling the clinical aspects of the Training. The process of assessment and designation is laid out clearly in C3 and C4 of the Training Prospectus.

Timings – by days we mean working days, Mondays to Fridays.  The time-table for each section in this document is detailed, with the exception of holiday periods:

  1. Christmas (ten working days)
  2. Easter (ten working days)
  3. All public holidays in England and Wales
  4. The calendar months of July and August

Advisory person – This term covers any legal representative consulted by the candidate or Training Patient. In addition, this term covers any supportive person nominated by each party eg a Training Patient may choose to have a friend involved in the process who may attend any meetings, in a supportive capacity only. A candidate may choose to nominate someone in AJA for support during the process, but that person should not be their supervisor or analyst due to conflict of interest.   

1. Confidentiality

AJA is a small organisation of less than one hundred people. It is important therefore, both for the integrity of the organisation and for the privacy of the complainant, that any member of AJA or outside body involved in this procedure maintain confidentiality until the outcome is finalised. The candidate should notify their professional insurers and the AJA Chair of Ethics that a complaint has been made as soon as possible.

Should a complaint be upheld then the outcomes and associated impact on confidentiality for the candidate are outlined under Sanctions.

This Procedure should be given to all involved, including any advisory person whom the Training Patient and the candidate may wish to consult – see Definitions above.

The chair of Training will be advised that a complaint has been received against a candidate in training. Depending on the nature of the complaint the candidate may continue with their AJA clinical work and seminars, but the offer of AJA membership will be suspended until the chair of Training receives the outcome of the complaint. In addition, confidentiality must be maintained about the complaint in clinical seminars and within the candidate’s peer group. If the complaint is upheld, the chair of Training will be involved in discussion of sanctions (see 13.iii, 13.iv, 13.v and 13.vi below).  

A breach of confidentiality is a breach of this procedure.

 2. Preparatory Consultations

An informal approach to the chair of the Ethics Committee may be made before making a formal complaint if the person considering making a complaint so wishes. In attempting to reach an informal resolution, where appropriate, an opportunity for discussion may be offered between the complainant and a member of the ethics committee.

3. Submission

i) A formal complaint should be made in writing, not electronically, to protect the confidentiality of all concerned, and addressed to:

Chair of the Ethics Committee, AJA, 7 Eton Avenue, London NW3 3EL, and marked ‘strictly confidential’.

 ii)  The complaint should state:

  • the complainant’s full name and postal address,
  • the substance of the complaint (including dates, places, events),
  • the name of the candidate,
  • the place of work of the candidate,
  • any relevant supporting information,
  • permission to forward the complaint [1] to the candidate, releasing them from their obligation to confidentiality to the patient so that they may respond to the complaint and [2] to those members of AJA who will be dealing with the management and decisions about the complaint within or appointed by AJA.
  • The complaint should be signed.

iii) A complaint will normally not be accepted more than five years after the alleged event. 

iv) A complaint from a third party on behalf of a complainant will not normally be accepted unless the complainant is unable to make the complaint, in which case the complaint should include an explanation of such inability.  

v)  An anonymous complaint will not normally be accepted unless there are serious and credible grounds and / or corroborating information from another source. 

vi) The complaint will normally be acknowledged within 12 days of the day of receipt [see note under definitions].

vii) A copy of the letter of complaint and all supporting documents will be sent to the candidate who will be invited to respond within 24 days [as above].

4. The Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee, on receipt of a formal complaint, will convene a sub-committee to consider it. The sub-committee will be composed of a minimum of three people: all will be senior members of AJA, none of whom is personally involved in the complaint eg analyst[s], supervisors or others intimate with the candidate. One member of the sub-committee will be drawn from the Ethics Committee.

5. Acceptance of a Formal written Complaint

The sub-committee shall meet to consider the written complaint and all associated documents from the parties. The complaint will be assessed against the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice and the sub-committee may arrive at any one of the following decisions:

i) There is no case to answer

If the sub-committee decides the complaint is not well founded, and that there has been no breach of the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice, the complainant and the candidate will be informed in writing within 12 days. The decision is final.

ii) The case requires further consideration

If the sub-committee considers it is in the best interests of all parties concerned to try to reach an agreement, they may recommend the case goes to mediation (see 6 below).

iii)There is a case to answer.

Where mediation is not thought appropriate because of the seriousness of the complaint, the sub-committee will recommend that a Formal Investigation Committee be drawn up (FIC) and the case should proceed straight to Investigation and Adjudication (see 7 below).

6. Mediation

If mediation is offered and if both parties are in agreement that the mediation should take place, the sub-committee will appoint an independent mediator. At this stage the mediator will communicate with all parties to arrange a meeting. If / when there is agreement, a mediation agreement letter will be drawn up and each party would be requested to sign the agreement. This signed agreement will be binding and the complaint will be deemed resolved.

If the parties are not able to reach agreement and the matter remains unresolved, a full hearing will be convened (see 7).

7. Investigation and Adjudication

7.1. If the sub-committee finds that a case has been made for a breach of the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice against a candidate, a Formal Investigation Committee (FIC) will be drawn up: three members from the sub-committee, and one person independent of the Association, and a chair agreed. The first task of the FIC will be to set a date for the formal investigation, taking into consideration the wishes of all parties concerned. If a consensual time cannot be agreed, the chair of the FIC will determine a date for a formal investigation to take place.

7.2. The chair of the FIC will write to the complainant and the candidate informing them of the date and venue of the investigation. At least 22 days notice will be given of the meeting at which the FIC will consider the possible breach of the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice.

7.3. Preparation.

i) All relevant correspondence shall be circulated to all parties along with the protocol for the meeting. The FIC may request a report from the Training Supervisor of the work under consideration and this would be circulated with the correspondence.

ii) A person will be appointed to oversee the recording of the meeting, either by taking verbatim notes and/or by recording the proceedings.

iii) Either party can be accompanied by a friend, an advisor and/or legal adviser, who may not address the committee, but is present to support and advise.

iv)The FIC is to be given adequate prior notice of those wishing to attend and has the right to refuse attendance. Accompanying ‘friends’ are there to support and advise complainant or candidate but will not be speaking to the investigators. Each party may bring up to two ‘friends’ which may or may not include their legal advisor. 

8. The Meeting

The meeting will take place, according to the protocol for Investigations at the AJA offices.

9. Refusal to attend the meeting

i) The candidate

Once the date for the FIC has been mutually agreed (7.1 above), the candidate does not have the right to refuse to attend unless some serious external event prohibits this eg illness, accident or bereavement. In such a case the candidate, or their representative, must immediately inform the chair of the FIC, who will then inform the complainant of the need to postpone. A new date will be set as soon as practically possible, given the nature of the serious event.

ii) The complainant

Once the date for the FIC has been mutually agreed (7.1 above), the complainant has the same right as the candidate to postpone the meeting should some serious external event occur eg illness, accident or bereavement. In which case they would need to immediately inform the chair of the FIC and a new date would be set as soon as practically possible.

Should the complainant refuse to attend the FIC meeting without any reason, then that refusal will be understood to mean that the complainant is dropping the case. The chair of the FIC will write to them informing them of this, giving a notice period of seven days in which to respond, after which time the case will officially be closed and no further action will be taken.

10. Non-attendance at the meeting

i) The candidate

If the chair of the FIC has not received any notification of serious events (as described in 9i above), the FIC will meet with the complainant to consider all documentation. The candidate will be held to be in breach of this procedure and adjudication will take place in their absence.

ii) The complainant

Non-attendance without any reason will be understood to mean that the complainant is dropping the case. The chair of the FIC will write to them informing them of this, giving a notice period of seven days in which to respond, after which time the case will officially be closed and no further action will be taken.

11.Transcript

The FIC will provide a transcript of the proceedings within 14 days, which the chair of the FIC will circulate to the candidate and the complainant. Corrections can be made in matters of fact alone and must be received within 7 days.

12. Decision

The final report will be drawn up after the seven days above have elapsed. This report will include the FIC’s findings in relation to the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice. The FIC will recommend the course of action to be taken and any sanctions to be imposed. The report will be submitted to the chair of the Ethics Committee who will then inform the Chair of the Association of the outcome of the investigation. The Chair of the Association will write to the person complained against and the complainant notifying them of the final decision.

13. Sanctions

If it is found that the candidate has committed a breach of the AJA Code of Ethics and Practice, one or more of the following sanctions may be imposed by the FIC:

i) they are required to give a written apology to the complainant;

ii) they are given a warning and/or a reprimand which will remain on their training file and may delay the process of their qualification;

iii) they are required to attend quarterly meetings for a specified time with the Chair of Training, or their representative, for which a fee will be charged. During these meetings the candidate will be expected to demonstrate how they have developed as a result of the complaint;

iv) they may be required to undertake further assessed clinical work, in consultation with the Chair of Training.

v) they are suspended from the training of the Association, or their training may be terminated, in consultation with the chair of Training.

vi) they comply with any other conditions that the Association sees fit to impose in consultation with the chair of Training.

Failure to comply with AJA’s requirements may lead to a more onerous sanction, suspension or termination of training.

14. Timing

This procedure should normally take not more than nine months from receipt of the written complaint and preferably no more than three. Where the processing of the complaint covers the months of July and August there will, inevitably, be a delay over this summer period (see Definitions: Timings)

15.  Appeals

  1. An appeal by either party must be made in writing to the Chair of the Association within 28 days of the mailing of the notice of action taken. Appellants are asked to show good cause and/or provide new relevant information which supports their appeal.
  2. The Chair of the Association will then follow the Appeals Procedure as laid down in A8.

16.  Removal of Sanctions

Candidates who are suspended under this AJA procedure may apply to the Chair of the Association for restoration to training after the sanction[s] have been successfully completed and supported by reports where appropriate. Both the chair of Ethics and the chair of the Training Committee must be satisfied that the candidate has demonstrated their readiness to resume their training. 

Should a complaint have been made against a candidate to BPC or UKCP then the offer of AJA membership will be suspended until the Chair of Training receives the outcome of the complaint.

 

28/05/19

 

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