The Ellesmere Centre for Psychotherapy & Training

Introduction and General Principles

ECPT aims to provide a service of the highest standard to all of our users but we realise that sometimes things go wrong and people may want to make a complaint. The purpose of this complaints policy and procedure is to provide a framework to assist any individual who is not satisfied with the services of the ECPT and wishes to make a complaint.  Our aim in this policy and procedure is to provide an open and transparent process which is easy to understand, fair and respects difference. We include timeframes and aim to respect confidentiality as far as possible.  We will act with integrity, honesty and will listen and learn. 

Anonymous or malicious complaints will not normally be investigated.

All practitioners and trainee practitioners are expected to adhere to the professional standards laid out in the ECPT Ethical Principles and Code of Professional Conduct Policy which can be found on our website.  Complaints made against qualified practitioners should be made to the organisation they are a member or accredited to eg UKCP, UKATA, BACP etc.  Please see relevant websites for organisation complaints procedure.

Trainee practitioners currently in training with the ECPT will fall under this policy and procedure.

About this policy

If you are a member of the public who wishes to register a concern or complaint about an ECPT Qualified Practitioner please see section A.

If you are a member of the public who wishes to register a concern or a complaint about an ECPT Trainee Practitioner please see section B.

For all other concerns or complaints see sections C and D.

If you are unsure how to proceed you may contact our administration office at admin@ellesmerecentre.co.uk or call 01482 702571 for further guidance.

Section A: Complaints against Qualified Practitioners

The ECPT Ethics Committee is responsible for dealing with concerns or complaints relating to our qualified practitioners in the first instance.

ECPT can deal with complaints against qualified practitioners on an informal basis only.  Anyone who is clear they wish to make a formal complaint should approach the appropriate regulatory body the practitioner is registered or accredited with eg UKATA, UKCP, BACP etc and follow their complaints procedure.

If the ECPT Ethics Committee receives a complaint with allegations of gross negligence or professional misconduct, they may wish to take action and will assist in helping the process move forward through the appropriate channels.

  1. Initiating a Complaint

1.1  We recognise that many difficulties arise through miscommunication, and

       and conflict can quickly escalate.  The first stage, wherever possible, is

       for an individual experiencing a difficulty to speak directly to the person

       concerned.

1.2  If the matter is not resolved through direct communication, or where this

       is too difficult or challenging for the complainant the next step is to

       contact the ECPT Ethics Committee. Please contact the ECPT

       administration office either via the website, telephone or email

       admin@ellesmerecentre.co.uk who will forward to the Ethics Committee.

1.3  The complainant will receive a response from the Ethics Committee

        within two weeks and will be offered the opportunity to explain the details

        of their complaint in a confidential setting via telephone.

1.4   Following this if the complainant decides to make an informal complaint

        he/she will be provided with copies of the ECPT Ethical Principles and 

        Code of Conduct Policy.  He/she may request further assistance to

        describe the complaint once it is clear that a breach of the code has

        occurred.

1.5   A record will be made of when the issue arose and how the matter was

        addressed. This record and all correspondence and written material

        regarding this process will be dealt with confidentially.  The complainant

        should be reminded that they are able to take the issue directly to the

        appropriate regulatory body at any point in this process.

  • Next Steps

2.1   At this point, if the complainant agrees, the practitioner who is being

        complained against may be advised of the complaint and be sent a copy

        of all documentation as well as a copy of this policy and procedure.

2.2   The practitioner is invited to respond to the Ethics Committee in writing

         within two weeks.  Should the practitioner decline to give their account

         the procedure will move on regardless.

2.3    The complainant then has an opportunity to consider the response of

         the practitioner and to discuss this with a member of the Ethics

         Committee. This may be sufficient to allow for direct communication to

         take place between the complainant and practitioner to decide together

         how to achieve completion.

2.4    If resolution has not been possible, both parties, with the Ethics

         Committee member may suggest alternative solutions.

  • Mediation

3.1   If mediation is an acceptable way forward for both parties, a meeting is

       arranged at a mutually agreed time and location.This is an opportunity for

       dialogue, response and restoration of relationship.

3.2  The intention of mediation is to repair the harm done to the relationship

        and to move forward.

3.3   The mediator will only be appointed with the agreement of both parties

        and will be a member of the Ethics Committee. The member’s

        impartiality will be regarded as paramount.

3.4   If the mediation procedure does not lead to a mutually agreed outcome,

        both parties will be offered options on how to move forward.  One option

        is to consider if another meeting might bring about satisfactory

        resolution.  Another option is for a complaint to become formal through

        the mechanisms of the regulatory bodies referred to above.

  • Appeals

4.1   In the case of complaints undertaken through formal processes of the

        regulatory bodies UKATA, UKCP, BACP etc, any appeal against the

        outcome or process will be dealt with through those same bodies

        accordingly.

4.2   The Ethics Committee of ECPT is entrusted with the process of dealing

         with informal complaints as stated above; if a complainant is not

         satisfied with the way a complaint has been handled they may write to

         the Directors of ECPT.

4.3   After the complaints procedure has been completed, the parties involved

        will be invited to give feedback on the process.

Section B:  Complaints against any trainee practitioners 

The ECPT Directors are responsible for dealing with all concerns and complaints from members of the public about any ECPT trainee practitioner.  The Directors may be contacted via the admin office by telephone or emailing admin@ellesmerecentre.co.uk who will forward the complaint on.

The Process

1.   Following discussion, a written account will be taken and the trainee will

      be contacted.  The Director will discuss the complaint with the trainee and

      ask them for a written response.

2.   The Director will contact the trainee’s supervisor to ask for their input.

3.   The Director will consider next steps.  This may involve conditions on the

      trainees practice such as extra supervision.

4.   The Director will inform the complainant of the outcome of this initial

      investigation within 4 weeks.

5.   The Director may consult with ECPT Ethics Committee for advice or

      additional perspective.

6.   The Director may hand the complaint over to the Ethics Committee if:

  1.  The trainee requests an independent investigation
  2.  The complainant requests a more formal investigation

       If the matter is considered to be a serious breach of ethics the trainee

       may be asked to leave training.

Section C: Complaints about training issues

From time to time a trainee may be dissatisfied with some aspect of their training at ECPT and wishes to lodge a complaint.  Trainees who wish to appeal against assessment outcomes should email the admin office providing details of their appeal who will forward to the original marker/s for consideration.

All other complaints about training should follow the procedure outlined in the course handbooks – first raising their concern with the main trainer.

COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE (From Course Handbooks)

The aim of the complaints procedure is to provide a means of examining a complaint about an alleged breach of the Centre’s code of ethics and or professional practices.

Initiating a Complaint

  1. The complaint should be made as near as possible to the time of origin. 

Complaints concerning events that occurred more than three years prior to the first contact with the Director of Training will not normally be heard.

  • The complainant will be advised to meet with the complained against trainer with a third party present if so desired by the complainant and/or the centre member concerned.
  • If an informal resolution cannot be found then the complainant will be advised to make the complaint in writing detailing the nature of the alleged problem and send it to the Director of Training of the Ellesmere Centre.
  • Should the complaint be made against the Director of Training of the Ellesmere Centre, the complaint can be raised in confidence to Student Support in the first instance. Initial steps of the complaints procedure will be followed with another member of the Ethics Committee (not connected to the Ellesmere Centre) fulfilling the role of Director of training in the process if necessary. 
  • When the complaint is received it will examined against the code of ethics laid down by the Ellesmere Centre.  (ECPT Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct and ITA codes of ethics).
  • The complaint will be assessed by the Director of Training and where deemed necessary, the External Moderator prior to consideration for proceeding further, that is to the Ethics Committee.
  • The Ethics Committee of the Centre will consider the written complaint in order to give an opinion as to whether there has been a breach of ethics.
  • As a training provider we take complaints seriously and, as such, we have an Independent Training Collaborative to assess complaints should there be a dissatisfaction with the handling or outcome of a complaint.

The member complained about must have been a contracted and practicing therapist/supervisor/trainer at the Centre at the time of the alleged breach of the Code of Ethics.

The Ellesmere Centre may seek legal advice concerning a complaint.

The Ellesmere Centre will not be responsible for any expenses incurred by either party involved in a complaint.

Acceptance of a Formal Written Complaint

  1. Complaints should be in writing and addressed to the Chair of the Ethics Committee, marked ‘Private and Confidential’ to the Ellesmere Centre for Psychotherapy and Training.  Written acknowledgement will be sent out within two weeks of receipt.
  • The complaint should include references to specific sections and give details of the alleged incidence.
  • The therapist/supervisor/trainer complained about will provide a written response within 6 weeks.
  • The Ethics Committee will meet to consider the matter.  This will normally be within 4 weeks of receipt of the above response.
  • The Ethics Committee may decide that
  • there may be a case to answer
    • there is no case to answer
    • that the matter is not within the remit of the Ethics Committee 

and the Committee will indicate this either by writing or in a meeting with the parties concerned.

  • A member of the Independent Training Collaborative who is independent to the Ellesmere Centre will be the designated as the Independent Complaints Reviewer for students requesting an independent review should there be a dissatisfaction with the handling or outcome of a complaint.

If the complaint is upheld

One of the following courses of action may be taken should a complaint be upheld

  1. An apology is given to the complainant by the therapist/supervisor/trainer concerned.
  • The therapist/supervisor/trainer is required to give an undertaking that they cease to practice in a particular manner and/or cease to work with particular clients, students or other types of persons.
  • The therapist/supervisor/trainer may be required to undertake therapy and/or supervision and/or further training at their own cost.  A method of verifying successful completion of the requirements will be agreed between the Ethics Committee and the therapist such as a written piece demonstrating improvements.
  • An informal warning may be given.
  • A formal warning indicating that further breaches of the Code of Ethics may lead to removal from the Ellesmere Centre register.
  • Removal of ability to practice from the Ellesmere Centre.

Appeals

  1. If either party wishes to make an application to appeal, this must be made in writing to the Chair of the Ethics Committee within 4 weeks of notification of findings.
  • Leave to appeal will only be granted if the party making the application to appeal will be able to demonstrate new evidence in terms of new information, which would support the appeal.  The Chair of the Ethics Committee will decide along with 2 other members of the committee that there are adequate grounds for granting leave to appeal.
  • Should it be decided there are adequate grounds for granting leave to appeal the matter will be passed to the Independent Reviewer for consideration.

Professional Misconduct

Therapists should be aware that professional practice which falls short of the standards expected of a practitioner, violations of ethical conduct or conduct that brings the professions of psychotherapy and/or counselling into disrepute constitutes professional misconduct.

Behaviour which may result in a termination of the ability to practice at the Ellesmere Centre includes

  1. Exploitation of a client, supervisee or trainee
  • Repeated breaches in the Code of Ethics or expected standards, despite warnings.

Section D:  All other complaints

If there is a concern about the fitness to practice of a colleague, a member

may write to the Chair of the Ethics Committee with their concerns.

Staff of ECPT wishing to complain about any aspect of their employment

should contact the ECPT Directors via the admin office.

Last reviewed: December 2019