Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy in California (B&P § 4982)

lawLaws are enacted to govern the activities of professions and to ensure the safety of the public.  However, the effectiveness of the laws only extend as far as the public’s knowledge of them.  With the intent of educating consumers of the limitations of the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy, below is the California Business and Professions Code section 4982 that governs the denial, suspension and revocation of the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy as revised and effective January 1, 2010.  (Note, however, that there are other statutes that affect the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy, e.g., Business & Professions Code section 651, etc.  Those statutes may be referred to from time-to-time in other articles.)

§4982. UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

The board may deny a license or registration or may suspend or revoke the license or registration of a licensee or registrant if he or she has been guilty of unprofessional conduct. Unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(a)    The conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter. The record of conviction shall be conclusive evidence only of the fact that the conviction occurred. The board may inquire into the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime in order to fix the degree of discipline or to determine if the conviction is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter. A plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere made to a charge substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter shall be deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this section. The board may order any license or registration suspended or revoked, or may decline to issue a license or registration when the time for appeal has elapsed, or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, or, when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code allowing the person to withdraw a plea of guilty and enter a plea of not guilty, or setting aside the verdict of guilty, or dismissing the accusation, information, or indictment.

(b)    Securing a license or registration by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation on any application for licensure or registration submitted to the board, whether engaged in by an applicant for a license or registration, or by a licensee in support of any application for licensure or registration.

(c)    Administering to himself or herself any controlled substance or using of any of the dangerous drugs specified in Section 4022, or of any alcoholic beverage to the extent, or in a manner, as to be dangerous or injurious to the person applying for a registration or license or holding a registration or license under this chapter, or to any other person, or to the public, or, to the extent that the use impairs the ability of the person applying for or holding a registration or license to conduct with safety to the public the practice authorized by the registration or license. The board shall deny an application for a registration or license or revoke the license or registration of
any person, other than one who is licensed as a physician and surgeon, who uses or offers to use drugs in the course of performing marriage and family therapy services.

(d)    Gross negligence or incompetence in the performance of marriage and family therapy.

(e)    Violating, attempting to violate, or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of this chapter or any regulation adopted by the board.

(f)    Misrepresentation as to the type or status of a license or registration held by the person, or otherwise misrepresenting or permitting misrepresentation of his or her education, professional qualifications, or professional affiliations to any person or entity.

(g)    Impersonation of another by any licensee, registrant, or applicant for a license or registration, or, in the case of a licensee, allowing any other person to use his or her license or registration.

(h)    Aiding or abetting, or employing, directly or indirectly, any unlicensed or unregistered person to engage in conduct for which a license or registration is required under this chapter.

(i)    Intentionally or recklessly causing physical or emotional harm to any client.

(j)    The commission of any dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent act substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant.

(k)    Engaging in sexual relations with a client, or a former client within two years following termination of therapy, soliciting sexual relations with a client, or committing an act of sexual abuse, or sexual misconduct with a client, or committing an act punishable as a sexually related crime, if that act or solicitation is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a marriage and family therapist.

(l)    Performing, or holding oneself out as being able to perform, or offering to perform, or permitting any trainee or registered intern under supervision to perform, any professional services beyond the scope of the license authorized by this chapter.

(m)    Failure to maintain confidentiality, except as otherwise required or permitted by law, of all information that has been received from a client in confidence during the course of treatment and all information about the client that is obtained from tests or other means.

(n)    Prior to the commencement of treatment, failing to disclose to the client or prospective client the fee to be charged for the professional services, or the basis upon which that fee will be computed.

(o)    Paying, accepting, or soliciting any consideration, compensation, or remuneration, whether monetary or otherwise, for the referral of professional clients. All consideration, compensation, or remuneration shall be in relation to professional counseling services actually provided by the licensee. Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent collaboration among two or more licensees in a case or cases. However, no fee shall be charged for that collaboration, except when disclosure of the fee has been made in compliance with subdivision (n).

(p)    Advertising in a manner that is false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive, as defined in Section 651.
(q)    Reproduction or description in public, or in any publication subject to general public distribution, of any psychological test or other assessment device, the value of which depends in whole or in part on the naiveté of the subject, in ways that might invalidate the test or device.

(r)    Any conduct in the supervision of any registered intern, associate clinical social worker, or trainee by any licensee that violates this chapter or any rules or regulations adopted by the board.

(s)    Performing or holding oneself out as being able to perform professional services beyond the scope of one’s competence, as established by one’s education, training, or experience. This subdivision shall not be construed to expand the scope of the license authorized by this chapter.

(t)    Permitting a trainee or registered intern under one’s supervision or control to perform, or permitting the trainee or registered intern to hold himself or herself out as competent to perform, professional services beyond the trainee’s or registered intern’s level of education, training, or experience.

(u)    The violation of any statute or regulation governing the gaining and supervision of experience required by this chapter.

(v)    Failure to keep records consistent with sound clinical judgment, the standards of the profession, and the nature of the services being rendered.

(w)    Failure to comply with the child abuse reporting requirements of Section 11166 of the Penal Code.

(x)    Failure to comply with the elder and dependent adult abuse reporting requirements of Section 15630 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

(y)    Willful violation of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 123100) of Part 1 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code.

(z)    Failure to comply with Section 2290.5.

(aa)    (1)    Engaging in an act described in Section 261, 286, 288a, or 289 of the Penal Code with a minor or an act described in Section 288 or 288.5 of the Penal Code regardless of whether the act occurred prior to or after the time the registration or license was issued by the board. An act described in this subdivision occurring prior to the effective date of this subdivision shall constitute unprofessional conduct and shall subject the licensee to refusal, suspension, or revocation of a license under this section.

(2)    The Legislature hereby finds and declares that protection of the public, and in particular minors, from sexual misconduct by a licensee is a compelling governmental interest, and that the ability to suspend or revoke a license for sexual conduct with a minor occurring prior to the effective date of this section is equally important to protecting the public as is the ability to refuse a license for sexual conduct with a minor occurring prior to the effective date of this section.

(ab) Engaging in any conduct that subverts or attempts to subvert any licensing examination or the administration of an examination as described in Section 123.

Franco E. Santos, MA

Franco E. Santos is an adjunct professor of psychology and undergraduate advisor at Mount Saint Mary’s University in West Los Angeles.

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