If something goes wrong in your therapy work, we encourage you to talk things over with your therapist. If you are still not satisfied ask your therapist to let you see Arkordia’s complaints procedure. This document explains the process you will be engaging in and includes details of other professional associations our members subscribe to.
If you are unhappy with any aspect of the services provided by Arkordia and would like to make a complaint, please follow the procedure outlined below.
This was updated on 16 June 2021
Our complaints procedure operates this way:
• Informal complaint: we ask you first to try to explore the issue with your counsellor; if this
is difficult then the administrator or the chair can take up the complain in an informal way,
working towards a mutually agreed solution, then
• Formal Complaint: we set in train our complaints procedure which is more formal and has
more explicit rules; the aim is still to arrive at a mutually agreed solution that fully addresses all
your concerns, then
• Appeal: we will appoint an external consultant whose appointment is agreed by both you and
Arkordia; they will hear the complaint from an impartial perspective. If their decision is not
satisfactory the decision process will be passed for review by our organisational, professional
If you are unhappy with any aspect of the services provided by Arkordia and would like to make a
complaint, please follow the procedure outlined below.
- Please note that complaints can be made anonymously addressed either to the administrator or
the Chair at email@example.com. Because we are a small charity there will be little scope of
more than a letter of apology and a commitment to addressing the alleged breach. Bear in mind
that all members of our charity may be present at our meetings; so, only general issues will be
- If you wish to complain to Arkordia, then this would be dealt with first by you and the therapist
concerned and then by the administrator, who will process the complaint and pass this to the
chair. In the third instance, when necessitated by boundary issues, for example, the issue may
be taken up by the secretary of the charity. If these options present further conflicts of interest,
then a person agreed by both parties may be appointed as the external consultant.
- At any time in the process, you may bring in a supportive person who might be a friend, relative
or advocate. After this point (after the informal parts of this process have been exhausted or
completed) the complainant and the complained against will no longer meet in the same
- You may wish to make use of an advocate or advocacy service, there are various services
available; one such service is AdvoCard, https://www.advocard.org.uk/
- If you make a complaint to Arkordia, we will acknowledge this as soon as we receive your
complaint. Your complaint will be acknowledged within 14 days of receipt. A complaint made by
a client is always taken seriously. It will be recorded and investigated immediately it is received
and will be treated in confidence.
- At any time, if there is a conflict of interest, either for you, the complainer, or by the complained
against or the charity, Arkordia, anyone can declare this at any point during the process. The
process will then be re-evaluated with every effort made to avoid further conflicts of interest.
The conflict of interest should be declared to the chair of Arkordia.
- We aim to deal with complaints quickly; we ask you to act as quickly as possible too, from the
time you understood that something had happened with which you were unhappy. The
maximum time allowed by Arkordia’s policy, from the moment a complaint is received to an
assessment and resolution is 12 months.
a) If you make a complaint to us more than 12 months after the time when the event is
considered to take place, we will not be able to pursue it.
b) To help you pursue your interest we will also, where possible, provide a translator or
translations of this document if you need it.
- Arkordia’s aim to resolve any complaint within the therapeutic relationship. This means that,
with any complaint, your counsellor or therapist or whoever it is you are complaining about will
offer you the opportunity to talk through your concerns with a view to understanding,
appreciating, and resolving the difficulty. He or she will arrange a meeting within a week of
receiving your communication whether this is by email, letter or phone or video.
a) If you do not wish to take up this offer, or you take up this offer and its outcome is
not satisfactory, and you wish to make a formal complaint, please write to, by post
or by email, yourself or through a friend or representative stating your complaint
and send to:
- Arkordia Complaints, South Side Centre, 86 Causewayside, Edinburgh, EH9 1PY
Telephone. 07496 155038 firstname.lastname@example.org
- If the complaint is against a former member/worker of ARKORDIA:
a) any investigation will be conducted for the learning of the organisation e.g., to
identify any systematic failures
b) wherever possible the complained against is offered the opportunity to represent
their own interest
c) the outcome report to COSCA is still sent under Standard 28 of COSCA’s standards
for complaints procedures, but the normal sanction report will not be published.
d) if the former worker is still a member of COSCA, they may investigate under the
system for dealing with information about members.
- If you require assistance with understanding the process laid out below, we can arrange a
meeting to help you, with our chair or administrator; information about arrangements for
meeting and progress of the enquiry will be through one of them. If you are unable to write, let
us know and we can receive your complaint in other formats or arrange a meeting with the chair
or administrator to discuss the issue.
- Within 14 days of receiving your written complaint, our chair or administrator will, if both
parties agree, consult with an independent person of good standing within the counselling
community in Scotland and/or the UK (external Consultant).
- Within 30 days of our chair or administrator being engaged in your complaint, the chair or
administrator will contact you to try to resolve the complaint in person with you.
- If this is still unsatisfactory, the external consultant (if they are engaged in the process see
section 2) will arrange for you and the person you complained against to meet with him/her
individually, to discuss the case.
- Depending on who has heard the complaint, either the chair or administrator or the external
consultant, having heard and read the evidence, will then make an impartial and confidential
assessment and judgment of the merits of both sides, and inform you. and the complainant in
writing of the outcome within 14 days.
- If the complaint is discovered to be malicious or vexatious, for instance when, the complaint is
referred to a member of the management of Arkordia who, if finding the complaint to be
vexatious, will respond to the complainant saying that they find the complaint to be vexatious
and no further contact will be entered into (for example, if the complaint has been addressed
and similar or further complaints are made and found to be baseless when all avenues of
enquiry have reasonably been exhausted).
If the external consultant is engaged in the complaints procedure all parties concerned will
declare any conflict of interest before the hearing begins. The purpose throughout the process is
determine a resolution to your complaint and that all parties are properly heard.
- The process will be held in a confidential manner, where details of what is complained about are
held with sensitivity to the issues, however COSCA will publish upheld complaints and their
sanctions, and, for you to make a complaint You must give permission for confidential
information to be disclosed to those handling the complaint.
a) At any time in the process Arkordia will reserve the right to seek specialist advice,
for example asking for COSCA’s assistance or seeking legal advice.
- Can the process be adjourned?At the discretion of the chair or administrator (whoever is leading the procedure) with due
regard to time restraints and confidentiality, the process may be adjourned or put in recess.
The process will be re-started at the point at which it was stopped, within a reasonable time.
If at any stage in the process the external consultant has good reason he/she may call a halt to
the process. For example if the investigation revealed matters of criminal abuse or in some other
way learns that legal proceedings have been begun by another party. Calling a halt to the
complaint process may be temporary or halt it completely depending on circumstances.
- When can a complaint be discontinued?
A complaint can be discontinued if:
a) the complainant fails or refuses to participate at any stage of the complaint
procedure without good reason.
b) the complainant formally withdraws the complaint
- The time limit for initiating a complaint is 12 months from the alleged breach of COSCA’s
Statement of Ethics and Code of Practice by the complained against worker.
Both parties will be informed of the result in writing and email. The reasons for the decision
will be included. Third parties will be notified where a breach of confidentiality can be
avoided; representatives and anonymous complainants and their roles will be stated.
An outcome report will be sent to COSCA within one month of the decision being made,
COSCA will then publish the result of the complaint, whether it is upheld or rejected.
- How will you communicate with both parties?
The complainant and complained against will be informed in writing and email on
completion of the investigation. Either party may enquire as to the progress of the
investigation and may also receive updates at significant junctures in the process.
You may appeal at the decision, If the management at Arkordia have reached their decision
you will be able to appeal to the external consultant or a new external consultant, if they
have been involved in the original complaint process:
a) If you are not satisfied with the decision of the external consultant, then Arkordia’s
complaints procedure will have run its course. You will then be entitled to take your
complaint to one of the governing bodies listed, including COSCA (Arkordia is an
Organisational Member of COSCA) Other bodies that may be relevant are:
b) Only once Arkordia’s complaint’s procedure is exhausted, will COSCA investigate.The complainant will be informed that COSCA will, on receipt of the complaint,
verify that the member’s complaints procedure has been followed and the outcome
was lawful, reasonable and properly explained. This complaint must be submitted to
COSCA within one month of the decision.
- Any appeal must be lodged within 14 days of the decision. Appeals are generally only accepted if
new evidence has come to light during the process.
- The appeal process should take no more than one month to complete
- If an appeal is undertaken this will be passed to the next level of complaint. This can be
entertained only if new evidence has come to light that was not considered in the original
- What happens if the complaint is upheld?
a) Arkordia management will seek the advice from the external consultant person and if
need be from COSCA. The process will be guided by the external consultant or the
management of ARKORDIA.
b) In the event of your complaint being upheld the external consultant can recommend
sanctions against the member of Arkordia. These can vary from an apology, extra
supervision, further training, suspension from practice with Arkordia.
c) it is the Chair of ARKORDIA (or the person leading the investigation as decided by the
chair) who will impose, monitor and communicate completed sanctions.
- The outcome and the sanctions applied will be communicated to both complainant and
complained against. If an appeal is undertaken this will be passed to the next level of complaint
or to COSCA as ultimate arbiter.