Ngā māharahara mō tētahi kaihaumanu hinengaro 

Concerns about a psychotherapist

The Board’s role is to ensure that psychotherapists are qualified, competent and fit to practise.

The Board carries out this role by considering the health, competence (performance) or conduct of a psychotherapist and deciding whether the psychotherapist needs support to be put place in order for the psychotherapist to practise.

Hauora | Health concerns

It is important that you notify the Board if you have reason to believe that a psychotherapist is unable to practise safely due to a health condition.

A health condition can be a mental or physical impairment and may include a condition or impairment caused by alcohol or substance use disorders.

After receiving a notification about a psychotherapist, the Board may require the psychotherapist to have a health assessment. 

If you are a psychotherapist with a health condition and believe that this may affect your ability to practise, you must inform the Board. You do not have to declare health conditions that are temporary or do not affect your ability to practise.

Every year, psychotherapists are asked to declare whether they have a health condition when applying for an APC.

Tohungatanga | Competence concerns

Psychotherapists are required to meet all competencies for their scope of practice.

If you are a health practitioner and you believe that a psychotherapist may pose a risk of harm to the public by practising below the required standard of competence, you may be required to notify the Board of your concerns. A notification must be in writing to the Registrar and include the reasons why you believe that the psychotherapist poses a risk of harm to the public. 

The Board may decide to refer a psychotherapist to a Competence Review Committee (CRC) for a competence review. The CRC will consider the competence of a psychotherapist who holds a current practising certificate and whether the psychotherapist’s practice of the profession meets the required standard of competence.

Further information about competence reviews

Under section 36(4) of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act), the Board may at any time review the competence of a psychotherapist who holds a current practising certificate, whether or not there is reason to believe that the psychotherapist’s competence may be deficient or the Board receives a notification.

In conducting a competence review, the Board must consider whether, in the Board’s opinion, the psychotherapist’s practice of the profession meets the required standard of competence.

The Board will consider this in conjunction with the Board’s set standards of clinical and cultural competence.

The form of a competence review is at the Board’s discretion under the HPCA Act, but in every case, the Board must give the psychotherapist:

  • a notice containing sufficient particulars to inform the psychotherapist clearly of the substance of the grounds (if any) on which the Board has decided to conduct the review

  • information relevant to their competence that is in the possession of the Board

  • a reasonable opportunity to make written submissions and be heard on the matter, either personally or by their representative. 

After conducting a review, if the Board considers that the psychotherapist fails to meet the required standard of competence, the Board must make one or more of the following orders under section 38(1) of the HPCA Act:

  • that the psychotherapist undertake a competence programme.

  • that one or more conditions be included in the psychotherapist’s scope of practice.

  • that the psychotherapist sits an examination or undertakes an assessment specified in the order.

  • that the psychotherapist be counselled or assisted by one or more nominated persons.

Whanonga | Conduct concerns

If there is a conduct concern the Board may decide to refer a  psychotherapist to a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).

PCCs are appointed by the Board to investigate information that raises questions about the appropriateness of a psychotherapist’s conduct or the safety of their practice should the need arise.

A PCC is a statutory committee that regulates its own procedure. Every PCC consists of one layperson and two registered psychotherapists.

The PCC’s role is to investigate the circumstances that led to the complaint or conviction and then to make recommendations or determinations under section 80 of the HPCA Act.

PCCs can make various determinations and recommendations. 

Some of the determinations and recommendations are:

  • that the Board counsel the practitioner

  • that the Board review the competence of the health practitioner

  • that the Board review the practitioner’s scope of practice

  • that a charge be brought against the health practitioner in the Health Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal

  • that no further steps be taken.

If a PCC (or the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Director of Proceedings) lays a charge against a health practitioner, the charge will be heard by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Flowchart of concerns

A flowchart to show how concerns can be managed.