East Texas counselors learn dos and don'ts of ethical practice at SFA meeting

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Professional and future counselors had a unique opportunity to see firsthand the responsibilities of their job. When a complaint is filed it ends up before a state board. This week, the "complaints committee" is at Stephen F. Austin State University.

When a complaint is filed against a professional counselor, whether it be against a school, mental, or spiritual advisor, the dispute usually ends up here, before the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors.

The governor appointed board may hear disputes over a termination or a counselor-client grievance. An investigator seeks the facts of the case. Each side presents their argument and then they're allowed to verbally address the board for a limited amount of time.

"There's over 20,000 licensed professional counselors," Dr. Le'Ann Solmonson, a professional licensed counselor and an SFA professor. "And I think the board will tell you that they hear about, they get about 200 complaints a year. Now of those 200 complaints, that doesn't mean that they are all valid."

Some rulings may result in only a reprimand.

The professions code of ethics can be found online and the rules are quite lengthy. A violation of the more serious ones can result in the loss of a license.

Attorneys often provide the objective guidance.

"People have been named a respondent in a complaint generally will have more of an emotional involvement and the attorney can provide guidance," Joanna Miller, an attorney with the Houston-based law firm of Miller, Scamardi, & Carrabba, said.

These real life scenarios are beneficial to professionals and students.

"That it can be us before this board at anytime we have to dot our i's, and cross our t's and make sure we are always engaging in ethical practice," Solmonson said.

The ethic lesson is considered important. Individuals attending the board meetings received credit for continuing education requirements.

The complaints committee met today at SFA. Tomorrow the full board of examiners of professional counselors is scheduled to meet at eleven at the SFA Theatre in the Patillo Student Center.

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