The Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP) is the governing body for Psychologists (Registered and Candidates) in Nova Scotia. It is the responsibility of NSBEP to investigate and address complaints against Psychologists.

Psychologists may be disciplined for engaging in practice that falls below acceptable minimum standards for the profession, or for engaging in malpractice, incompetent practice or other unethical conduct.

Before lodging a formal complaint with NSBEP, the Complainant may first wish to discuss his or her concerns with the Psychologist. In some circumstances, a psychologist may be unaware of concerns until a complaint has been lodged.  In most cases the psychologist would want to know that you are dissatisfied with the services and would work with you in resolving those issues.  If you are unable to talk with the psychologist due to nature of the complaint feel free to contact the NSBEP to obtain the complaint forms.

You are encouraged to contact the NSBEP and confirm the individual you are making the complaint against is in fact a Registered Psychologist or Psychologist (Candidate Register). You may do so online by checking our Directory of Psychologists.

You could check the Standards of Practice to read the requirements that govern psychologists registered in Nova Scotia. Although the investigation committee will decide whether a complaint is valid and whether the acts or conduct that you allege violate professional standards, many people find reviewing the Standards of Practice helpful in deciding whether they should file a complaint with the NSBEP and what kind of information to provide to the Board to support the allegations.

Complainants may also wish to call the NSBEP and speak with the Registrar before lodging a complaint. The Registrar may be able to facilitate an informal resolution to the problem.

Correspondence regarding Investigations must be conducted by regular mail.

If you would like to talk to someone about the complaints process, please contact the Registrar.

Telephone: (902) 423-2238

Mail:
The Registrar (PLEASE MARK YOUR ENVELOPE: Complaint Issue)
Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology
Suite 455, 5991 Spring Garden Road
Halifax, NS B3H 1Y6

Complaints involving Custody/Access or Parenting Capacity Reports

NSBEP Investigation Committees only conduct disciplinary investigations. When the results of a custody assessment are in dispute, NSBEP does not attempt to resolve the disputed issues. If the Psychologist has followed standard practice in arriving at his/her conclusions, there is no basis for a complaint regardless of the nature of the differences of opinion unless there is clear evidence of unethical or incompetent actions on the psychologist’s part. Investigation Committees normally do not begin to examine complaints involving custody/access or parenting capacity reports until the Court action is concluded.

Complaints Process

Once a decision has been made to file a formal complaint the usual procedure is as follows:

  1. Complete the formal complaint form. In order to contact the Psychologist about your complaint, we need your permission so please review the release of information forms included in the complaints package and sign those pertinent to your situation. Document your concerns in point form. Attach any other documentation you think clarifies or supports your complaint. Send this completed package to the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology.
  2. The Registrar sends your complaint to the psychologist. The psychologist has 30 days from the receipt of the complaint to respond.
  3. The complaint information and the psychologist’s response information are forwarded to an investigation committee.
  4. You will receive a letter containing the names of the committee members. This letter may also contain the psychologist’s response to your complaint. If the Investigation Committee requires more information from you, it may also be requested at this time.
  5. Once the Investigation Committee has reached a decision, you will be notified of the results by the Chair of the committee.

Time Lines

Investigation Committees are volunteer committees. The process for reviewing complaints is very thorough. The complexity of the issues under investigation and the response times involved in gathering all the relevant information has a bearing on the length of time. Typically, time to closure is between 6 and 18 months. Complaints that result in reprimands may move to a formal hearing. A formal hearing is a legal proceeding. Once this occurs resolution of the matter may involve time frames of over 18 months.

Possible Outcomes

If the Investigation Committee does not find evidence of practice that may have fallen below acceptable minimum standards or of malpractice or incompetent practice or other unethical conduct, the complaint will be Dismissed.

If the Investigation Committee believes that the Psychologist’s services may have fallen below minimum standards, the Committee may issue a Counsel to the Psychologist, in writing. A Counsel will put the Psychologist on notice about what the Committee expects the Psychologist to do in the future to ensure that his/her services meet expected professional standards. The Counsel may be considered by the Committee, in the event of a similar complaint against the Psychologist in the future.

If the Committee is certain that the Psychologist’s services have fallen below minimum standards, but does not constitute professional misconduct, the Committee will issue a Caution to the Psychologist, in writing. A Caution will put the Psychologist on notice about what the Committee expects the Psychologist to do in the future to ensure that his/her services meet expected professional standards. The Caution may be considered by the Committee, in the event of a similar complaint against the psychologist in the future.

If the Committee is certain that the conduct of a Psychologist amounts to professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming the Committee may issue a Reprimand. The Psychologist may be asked to consent to the Reprimand. If he/she does so, the issue does not go forward to a formal hearing. If the Psychologist does not consent to the Reprimand, the matter is then referred to a formal hearing. If the Investigation Committee believes that protection of the public is an issue, it is within the jurisdiction of the Committee to impose Terms, Limitations or Conditions on a Psychologist’s Certificate of Registration or to conclude that the Psychologist’s Certificate of Registration should be suspended or revoked. This will generally involve referral to a Formal Hearing.