Due Process Procedures and Grievance Procedures Policy
Due Process Procedures are implemented in situations in which a supervisor or other faculty member raises a concern about the functioning of a Psychology Intern. These procedures are a protection of both the Intern and Solutions’ Psychology Internship program, and also carries responsibilities for both. The internship’s Due Process procedure occurs in a step-wise fashion, involving greater levels of intervention as a problem increases in persistence, complexity, or level of disruption to the training program. These procedures are implemented in order to afford the Intern with every reasonable opportunity to remediate a problem and to receive support and assistance. These procedures are rooted in the transparency of expectations and not intended to be punitive.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Interns have the right to a clear statement of general rights and responsibilities upon entry into the training program, including the goals and parameters for the training experience and Solutions’ policies and procedures. Interns have a right to be training by professionals in accordance with APA ethical guidelines. They have the right to be treated with respect and in keeping with the Intern’s advanced level of training and experience. Interns have a right to receive ongoing evaluation that is specific, respectful, and pertinent. They have the right to engage in ongoing evaluation of the training experience. Interns have the right to participate in the Due Process procedures by having their viewpoints heard at each step in the process. They have the right to appeal decisions with which they disagree, within the limits of this policy. Interns have the responsibility to engage with the training program and Solutions in a manner that is respectful, professional, and ethical, making every reasonable attempt to remediate behavioral and competency concerns, and striving to meet the aims and objectives of the program.
Solutions’ Psychology Internship has the right to implement these Due Process procedures when they are called for, as described below. The internship and its faculty/staff have the right to be treated in a manner that is respectful, professional, and ethical. The program has a right to make decisions related to remediation for an Intern, including probation, suspension and termination, within the limits of this policy. The responsibilities of the program include engaging with the Intern in a manner that is respectful, professional, and ethical, making every reasonable attempt to support Interns in remediating behavioral and competency concerns, and supporting Interns to the extent possible in successfully completing the training program.
DEFINITION OF A PROBLEM
For purposes of this document, a problem is defined broadly as an interference in professional functioning which is reflected in one or more of the following ways: 1) an inability and/or unwillingness to acquire and integrate professional standards into one's repertoire of professional behavior; 2) an inability to acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptable level of competency; and/or 3) an inability to control personal stress, psychological dysfunctions, and/or excessive emotional reactions which interfere with professional functioning.
It is a professional judgment as to when an issue becomes problematic rather than of concern. Intern trainees may exhibit behaviors, attitudes or characteristics that, while of concern and requiring attention, are not unexpected or excessive for professionals in training. Issues typically are identified as problems that require remediation when they include one or more of the following characteristics:
- the intern does not acknowledge, understand, or address the problem when it is identified;
- the problem is not merely a reflection of a skill deficit which can be rectified by the scheduled sequence of clinical or didactic training;
- the quality of services delivered by the intern is sufficiently negatively affected;
- the problem is not restricted to one area of professional functioning;
- a disproportionate amount of attention by training personnel is required;
- the trainee's behavior does not change as a function of feedback, and/or time;
- the problematic behavior has potential for ethical or legal ramifications if not addressed;
- the intern's behavior negatively impacts the public view of the agency;
- the problematic behavior negatively impacts the intern cohort;
- the problematic behavior potentially or actually causes harm to a patient; and/or,
- the problematic behavior violates appropriate interpersonal communication with agency staff.
When a supervisor or other faculty/staff member believes that an intern’s behavior is becoming problematic, or that an Intern is having difficulty consistently demonstrating an expected level of competence, the first step in addressing the issue should be to raise the issue with the Intern directly and as soon as feasible in an attempt to informally resolve the problem. This may include increased supervision, didactic training, and/or structured readings. The supervisor or faculty/staff member who raises the concern should monitor the outcome. This process should be documented in writing in supervision notes and discussed with the Training Director and Training Faculty, but will not become part of the intern’s professional file.
If an intern’s problem behavior persists following an attempt to resolve the issue informally, if an intern receives a rating of a “2” or below on any competency on the 6-month supervisory evaluation, or if a problem with the acquisition of skills arises at any point, the following process is initiated:
- Notice of Formal Review: The Intern will be notified in writing that the issue has been raised to a formal level of review, and that a Hearing will be held.
- Hearing: The supervisor or faculty/staff member will hold a Hearing with the Training Director and Intern within 10 working days of issuing a Notice of Formal Review to discuss the problem and determine what action needs to be taken to address the issue. If the Training Director is the supervisor who is raising the issue, an additional faculty member who works directly with the Intern will be included at the Hearing. The Intern will have the opportunity to present their perspective at the Hearing and/or to provide a written statement in response to the identification of the problem.
- Outcome and Next Steps: The result of the Hearing will be any of the following options, to be determined by the Training Director and other faculty/staff member who was present at the Hearing. This outcome will be communicated to the Intern in writing within 5 working days of the Hearing:
1) Issue an "Acknowledgement Notice" which formally acknowledges:
- that the faculty is aware of and concerned with the problem;
- that the problem has been brought to the attention of the Intern;
- that the faculty will work with the intern to specify the steps necessary to rectify the problem or skill deficits addressed by the inadequate evaluation rating; and,
- that the problem is not significant enough to warrant further remedial action at this time.
2) Place the intern on a “Remediation Plan" which defines a relationship such that the faculty, through the supervisors and Training Director, actively and systematically monitor, for a specific length of time, the degree to which the intern addresses, changes and/or otherwise improves the problematic behavior or skill deficit. The implementation of a Remediation Plan will represent a probationary status for the Intern. The length of the probation period will depend upon the nature of the problem and will be determined by the Intern’s supervisor and the Training Director. The written Remediation Plan is shared with the Intern and the Director of Clinical Training at the Intern’s graduate program and includes:
- the actual behaviors or skills associated with the problem;
- the specific recommendations for rectifying the problem;
- the time frame during which the problem is expected to be ameliorated; and,
- the procedures designed to ascertain whether the problem has been appropriately remediated.
This statement will be issued within 5 working days of the hearing and will be shared with the Director of Clinical Training at the intern’s graduate program. The length of the Remediation Plan may be extended if indicated and agreed to by all parties. At the end of the remediation period as specified in “c” above, the Training Director will provide a written statement indicating whether the problem has been remediated. This statement will become part of the intern’s permanent file and also will be shared with the intern and sent to the Director of Clinical Training at the intern’s graduate program.
3) Place the Intern on suspension, which would include removing the Intern from all clinical service provision for a specified period of time, during which the program may support the Intern in obtaining additional didactic training, close mentorship, or engage in some other method of remediation. The length of the suspension period will depend upon the nature of the problem and will be determined by the Intern’s supervisor and the Training Director. A written Suspension Plan will be shared with the Intern and the Intern’s Director of Clinical Training at the Intern’s graduate program and will include:
- the actual behaviors or skills associated with the problem;
- the specific actions to be taken for rectifying the problem;
- the time frame during which the problem is expected to be ameliorated; and
- the procedures designed to ascertain whether the problem has been appropriately remediated.
At the end of this remediation period as specified in ‘c’ above, the Training Director will provide to the Intern and the Intern’s graduate program a written statement indicating whether the problem has been remediated to a level that indicates that the suspension of clinical activities can be lifted. The statement may include a recommendation to place the Intern on a probationary status with a Remediation Plan. In this case the process in #2 above would be followed. This statement will become part of the Intern’s permanent file.
Termination. If the problem is not rectified through the above processes, or if the problem represents gross misconduct or ethical violations that have caused or have the potential to cause harm, the Intern’s placement within Solutions’ Psychology Internship may be terminated. The decision to terminate an intern’s placement will be made by the Training Faculty and a representative of Human Resources and would represent a discontinuation of participation by the Intern within every aspect of the training program. The Training Faculty would make this determination during a meeting convened within 10 working days of the previous step completed in this process, or during the regularly-scheduled monthly Training Faculty meeting, whichever occurs first. The Training Director may decide to suspend an Intern’s clinical activities during this period prior to a final decision being made, if warranted. The Psychology Internship will notify the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and the Intern’s Director of Training at the Intern’s graduate program of the decision.
If the Intern wishes to challenge a decision made at any step in the Due Process procedures, the Intern may request an Appeals Hearing before the Training Faculty. This request must be made in writing to the Training Director within 5 working days of notification regarding the decision with which the Intern is dissatisfied. If requested, the Appeals Hearing will be conducted by a review panel convened by the Training Director and consisting of the Training Director (or another supervisor, if appropriate) and at least two other members of the Training Faculty who work directly with the Intern. The Intern may request one specific member of the Training Faculty to serve on the review panel. The Appeals Hearing will be held within 10 working days of the Intern’s request. The review panel will review all written materials and have an opportunity to interview the parties involved or other individuals with relevant information. The review panel may uphold the decisions made previously or may modify them. Decisions made by the review panel will be shared with the Intern and the Intern’s graduate program.
Grievance Procedures are utilized in situations in which a Psychology Intern raises a concern about a supervisor or other faculty member, trainee, or any aspect of the Psychology Internship. Interns who pursue grievances in good faith will not experience any adverse professional consequences. For situations in which an Intern raises a grievance about a supervisor, staff member, trainee, or the Psychology Internship, the following steps will be taken:
As a first step, the Intern should raise the issue as soon as feasible with the involved supervisor, staff member, other trainee, or the Training Director in an effort to resolve the problem informally. This is in keeping with the APA ethical code.
If the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved using informal means, the Intern may submit a formal grievance in writing, with relevant documentation, to the Training Director. If the Training Director is the object of the grievance, the grievance should be submitted to another member of the Training Faculty. The individual being grieved will be asked to submit a response in writing. The Training Director (or alternative Training Faculty member, if appropriate) will meet with the Intern and the individual being grieved within 10 working days. In some cases the Training Director or appropriate alternative Training Faculty member may wish to meet with the Intern and the individual being grieved separately first. In cases where the Intern is submitting a grievance related to some aspect of the Psychology Internship rather than an individual (e.g., issues with policies, curriculum, etc.) the Training Director and a member of the Training Faculty will meet with the Intern jointly. The goal of the joint meeting is to develop a plan of action to resolve the matter. The plan of action will include:
- the behavior/issue associated with the grievance;
- the specific steps to rectify the problem; and,
- procedures designed to ascertain whether the problem has been appropriately rectified.
The Training Director or alternative Training Faculty, if appropriate, will document the process and outcome of the meeting. The Intern and the individual being grieved will be asked to report back to the Training Director or alternative Training Faculty member in writing within 10 working days regarding whether the issue has been adequately resolved.
If the plan of action fails, the Training Director or alternative Training Faculty member will convene a review panel consisting of the Training Director or alternative Training Faculty and at least two other members of the training faculty within 10 working days. The Intern may request a specific member of the Training Faculty to serve on the review panel. The review panel will review all written materials and have an opportunity to interview the parties involved or any other individuals with relevant information. The review panel has final discretion regarding outcome.
If the review panel determines that a grievance against a staff member cannot be resolved internally or is not appropriate to be resolved internally, then the issue will be turned over to the Human Resources in order to initiate the agency’s due process procedures.