What do therapists have to report

Official complaint channels in the event of abuse in therapy

Frequently asked Questions:

I am not sure whether my psychotherapist's approach is legal. How can I find out?
You can get personal advice, e.g. from the psychotherapy complaint counseling service of the Gesundheitsladen köln e.v. Or you can view the professional code of conduct that is binding for all chamber members on the website of the responsible chamber.

What do I have to do if I want to officially complain about my psychotherapist?
You can contact the supervisory body. This is the Chamber of Psychotherapists for psychologists and the Chamber of Physicians for doctors. The chamber of the federal state in which your therapist has her practice is responsible. The addresses of the state chambers of psychotherapists can be found at http://www.bptk.de/, the addresses of the state medical associations at http://www.bundesaerztekammer.de/.

Can I complain anonymously?
No, an official complaint must be made in writing, stating your name. You can help us with the anonymous documentation of cases of abuse by filling out our documentation sheet.

Will my therapist find out about the complaint?
Your therapist will usually be informed of your complaint and asked to comment on the allegations.

Do I have to expect disadvantages, e.g. with regard to subsequent therapy, if I complain?
First of all, your complaint has no disadvantages for you. The chamber is also subject to confidentiality. You must first release your therapist from her duty of confidentiality so that the Chamber can receive information about the recordings. It does happen, however, that therapists turn on lawyers in order to prevent further action by the patients against them. Your health insurance company does not receive any information about the complaint procedure. However, you should contact your health insurer before changing therapist and explain your intention.

Do official complaints make any sense at all?
The answer to this question depends on the purpose of your complaint. Do you want to draw attention to the misconduct or are you perhaps trying to withdraw your treatment permit? In order to clarify your motive and the prospect of success of your complaint, you should seek advice.

How long will it take for my complaint to be successful?
That depends on what is a success for you and what the accusation is. You have to assume at least a few weeks. Professional court proceedings can take a year. As a rule, you will not receive any information about the course and outcome of the proceedings.

I am receiving psychotherapeutic treatment from an alternative practitioner. Who has the professional supervision?
There are no chambers for alternative practitioners. The responsible supervisory authorities are the local health authorities. If your alternative practitioner is a member of a professional association, you can also submit your complaint there. However, this can only result in exclusion from the association.

Detailed information on the boards' appeal procedures
The chambers of psychotherapists are professional associations of all psychotherapeutically trained qualified psychologists and educators who have a treatment permit. Doctors working in psychotherapy are members of the medical associations. In addition to other tasks, the chambers also perform professional supervision and have established ethical guidelines for psychotherapeutic treatment. At the same time, the Chamber takes on the protection of its members and is also intended to protect the therapists from unjustified attacks or accusations on the part of patients or third parties.
Responsibility depends on the basic profession (doctor or psychologist / pedagogue) and the location of the practice. Complaints must be submitted to the Chamber in writing (stating your name, address and signature). If someone contacts the chamber in writing with the information that a psychotherapist has violated the professional code, the chamber is obliged to investigate and clarify the matter. Complaints can be submitted by the patient or by third parties (e.g. relatives). As a rule, the psychotherapist is asked to provide a written statement on the complaint.

First assessment from a technical and legal point of view
The procedure for appeal proceedings is different in the chambers. They are regulated by state laws (Heilberufekammergesetz). In all chambers, complaints and statements are first discussed and assessed from a technical and legal point of view. In the case of complicated matters, if there are several complaints against a member or if witness interviews are necessary and in particular if a criminal offense or a serious violation of professional regulations is suspected, the board of directors initiates a formal investigation procedure. On the basis of the investigator's report, the board decides how to proceed. He can reject the complaint, issue a formal complaint, possibly with a fine, or apply for the initiation of professional judicial proceedings.

Professional judicial procedure
Professional judicial proceedings can be carried out within the chamber with honorary lawyers or before a professional chamber of the administrative court. The court has more sanction options than the Chamber of Psychotherapists. The fine can amount to up to € 50,000, the chamber member can be deprived of the right to vote or stand as a candidate, or it can be determined that the chamber member is unworthy of exercising his or her profession. On the basis of such a determination, a procedure to withdraw the license to practice medicine can be initiated. Professional judicial proceedings can also be initiated by the accused psychotherapist himself, especially if he does not agree to a complaint that has been issued.

In some chambers there is the possibility of arbitration. The respective arbitration rules of the chamber regulate the details. The aim of arbitration is to bring both parties into conversation, to address offenses and to clarify the conflict. The prerequisite for an arbitration is that both parties agree to the procedure.

Duration of complaint procedures
It is difficult to predict the length of a complaint process. It depends on the gravity of the accusation, the willingness of the accused to comment quickly on the accusations, the size of the chamber, etc. In any case, appellants have to be prepared for an examination process lasting several months.