Reform Complaint Procedure for Mental Health Professionals in CT
There are many issues with the current complaint process including but not limited to the following:
1. DPH will routinely dismiss a complaint made by a non-custodial parent saying that the CGS does not give non-cusotdial parents access to mental health records. However, that is not the case. It is within the DPH's purview to subpoena those records if a legitimate concern has been raised.
2. Once the DPH has accepted a complaint for further investigation, it will languish waiting for an outside consultant to perform the necessary standard of care review. Many complaints will languish for years.
3. Also, when an outside consultant is obtained to perform the investigation, these outside consultants are, in many instances, colleagues of the professional who is being investigated. It is reasonable to question whether the consultant can perform an objective investigation under those circumstances.
4. Persons entrenched in the industry and make their livelihood from family court are involved in the complaint process and similarly calls into question the objectivity of reviews. This past year many persons testified about issues in the Family Court system of CT. The focus was mainly on the role of GAL's. However, these GAL's needed the assistance of mental health professionals in many instances. These mental health professionals routinely did not follow industry standards in the performance of their duties.
Misconduct in the mental health profession with respect to family court cases has been brought to the attention of the legislature in numerous testimonies given at public hearings. This has prompted some affected persons to pursue criminal investigations, and Federal and Malpractice Lawsuits in others.
This misconduct is not exclusive to Connecticut. Divorce Corp, the movie clearly illustrated how pervasive this problem is nationwide. At least one website has sprouted to help educate the public of the abuses occuring. Please visit the following link ...
The inherent difficulties of making accurate assessments and analysis of situations is not being minimized. This is compounded by the uncertainties associated with assessing the emotional well-being of an individual under adverse conditions associated with contentious divorces and custody battles.
However, there are clear cut industry standards of care for the mental health assessment of adults and children, especially in divorce situations. These professionals routinely take advantage of the public's ignorance of the process and industry standard of care of such evaluations and assessments to engage in negligent conduct. In one case, the trained mental health professional involved testified under oath that he can perform an assessment in under 3 minutes. There are no 3 minute diagnosis standards.
These standards may include but not limited to the following :
2. American Psychological Association Standards such as:
a. Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings;
b. Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters;
c. Guidelines for Assessment of and and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities;
d. Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice;
3. and others ...
Many times, these so-called assessments do not reference the standards with which they are suposed to use to make a true and accurate assessment.
Several advocates for Family Court reform have brought to the attention of the legislature in past testimony the need to include in the current Practice Book that will put into place safeguards against the abuse of mental health professionals in Family Courts.
However, an impartial and honest process for processing complaints against these professionals must exist to ensure quality care is provided.
We therefore ask the respondent parties to reform the complaint process within the DPH to allow for a timely, accurate and impartial assessment of violations of industry standard of care in all disciplinary procedures. It is crucial that a message be sent to mental health professionals, that although their charge is a difficult one, slip shod or negligent conduct is not acceptable.
Although there are many instances of misconduct by certain mental health professionals, much like recent GAL reform, it is important to note that this petition isn't an indictment of every professional but those who chose to engage in unethical behavior. Many choose to avoid cases involving the court system to avoid being placed in a position in which their impartiality may be compromised."
To sign the petition, please click on the link below: