Complaints

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.  

1.      Please note that complaints can be made anonymously addressed either to the administrator or the Chair at arkordiaorg@gmail.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 considered anonymously.  

2.      If you wish to complain to Arkordia as a named service user, then this would be dealt with first by 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 charitycharity.  

a)      If at this stage you would like to engage a third party, who is not involved in the management of Arkordia, we can arrange for someone who is mutually agreed by both you and the management of Arkordia. This person is called an external Consultant.

b)     If an external consultant is engaged, it will be for the duration of the complaint process unless otherwise agreed by both parties  

3.      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 very seriously. It will be recorded and investigated immediately it is received and will be treated in confidence.

4.      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.

5.      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.

a)      If you make a complaint to us more than 18 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.

6.      Arkordia’s aim will be 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:

7.      Arkordia Complaints, South Side Centre, 86 Causewayside, Edinburgh, EH9 1PY Telephone. 07496 155038    arkordiaorg@gmail.com  

8.      If the complaint is against a former worker of ARKORDIA:  

a)      any investigation is 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.    

9.      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.

a)      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.

10.   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 (the external Consultant).

a)      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.

b)     If this is still unsatisfactory, the external consultant(if they are engaged in the process see section 2,b)  will arrange for you and the person you complained against to meet with him/her individually, to discuss the case.

c)      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.

11.   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).  

a)      You have the right throughout this process to bring along to any meeting a friend or mentor. This person may not to partake in the enquiry.

b)     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.  

12.  Confidentiality  

13.   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)      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.

b)     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.

c)      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.

d)     Each stage of the process of enquiry including setting up and having meetings should take a maximum of 3 months.  

14.   Can the process be adjourned?  

a)      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.

b)     The process will be re-started at the point at which it was stopped, within a reasonable time.  

15.   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)     or the complainant formally withdraws the complaint

c)      and both parties will be informed.  

16.   The time limit for initiating a complaint is 18 months from the alleged breach of COSCA’s Statement of Ethics and Code of Practice by the complained against worker.  

17.   The maximum time allowed by Arkordia’s policy, from the moment a complaint is received to an assessment and resolution is 1year.  

18.   Arkordia management will seek the advice from the external complaints person and if need be from COSCA. The process will be guided by the external complaints person or the management of ARKORDIA. The outcome of the sanctions 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. This can be entertained only if new evidence has come to light that was not considered in the original process.  

19.   In any appeal process no person who has previously been involved in investigation of the complaint will be further involved i.e. the complaint manager can manage the complaint until completion, but no person can hear a complaint if they have already been involved.  

20.  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.  

21.  If the complaint is upheld  

22.   Arkordia management will seek the advice from the external complaints person and if need be from COSCA. The process will be guided by the external complaints person or the management of ARKORDIA.  

a)      The outcome of the sanctions 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. 

b)     In any appeal process no person who has previously been involved in investigation of the complaint will be further involved i.e. the complaint manager can manage the complaint until completion, but no person can hear a complaint if they have already been involved.  

23.  The decision   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.  

24.  How will you communicate with both parties?   The complainant and defendant 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.  

25.  Appeal:   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)      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.  

b)     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:   British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy: www.bacp.co.uk/crs/complaints.php The UK Council for Psychotherapy: Email: complaints@ukcp.org.uk Health and Care Professions Council: Email: ftp@hcpc-uk.org BAAT British Association for Art Therapists Health and Care Email: ftp@hcpc-uk.org  

26.   In the event of this happening, we are obliged to let the relevant organisation know the outcome of our hearing into the matter.