Due Process is the procedure that is followed when a trainee’s performance or behavior is problematic. This procedure is to ensure fair decisions are made regarding the trainee’s performance and suitability for continued training and clinical practice in our Counseling Center.
The Center’s training program continually assesses each trainee’s performance and conduct. This includes formal performance reviews during the academic year, but also includes frequent appraisal via observation from the individual and group supervisors, the training program staff, senior staff, as well as other forms of feedback. The Center’s Training Staff (Coordinator of the Pre-Doctoral Internship and Director of Training) provide guidelines during orientation regarding expectations of clinical progress and professional behavior. The trainee should address questions or concerns about these expectations when this information is reviewed. If questions arise during the year trainees are expected and encouraged to ask for clarification.
Problematic performance or conduct is said to occur when a trainee’s behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics are interfering in the quality of his or her clinical work, disrupting relationships with peers, supervisors, or other staff, or leading to an inability to comply with appropriate standards of professional behavior. Problem behaviors may include: problems with professional behavior, or meeting professional standards; problems acquiring professional levels of competency; or inability to control personal issues that lead to inappropriate emotional reactions, or otherwise interfere with professional functioning. Classification of problematic behavior is generally a matter of professional judgment based on the Supervisor’s, the Training Coordinator, and/or the Director of Training’s years of experience in working with graduate trainees.
Some examples of what may be considered problematic performance or conduct may include:
- The trainee’s inability to acknowledge, understand or address the problem when it is identified.
- The problem is beyond that of reasonable academic or didactic training in a clinical setting..
- The quality of clinical or professional work offered by the trainee is significantly affected.
- The problem involves more than one area of professional functioning.
- A disproportionate amount of attention from training personnel is required.
- The trainee’s behavior does not change as a result of feedback, remediation, or time.
These guidelines are to ensure that decisions about trainee’s performance are not arbitrary or based on personal biases. The trainee should be given an opportunity to appeal decisions made by the program, and given a reasonable amount of time to respond to concerns.
Procedures for Responding to Problematic Behaviors:
If a staff member’s evaluation of trainee’s behavior indicates problems or inadequate performance, this should be brought to the attention of the Training Coordinator of the Pre-Doctoral Internship. The Training Coordinator may consult with relevant members of the Training Team. The Training Team may include individual supervisors, group supervisors, and senior staff observing the trainee’s behavior, the Assistant Director of Training, and the Director of the Center. This consultation should result in determination of what action needs to be taken to address the problems. A trainee would be informed of the problems and suggested actions for remediation would be discussed with the trainee. If this does not resolve the problematic behavior, or if the concerns are serious the following steps may occur. Any time one of the following more formalized procedures occur a copy of the notice, or summary of the hearing will be sent to the trainee’s academic training coordinator (at home institution). Any time one of the following procedures occur a copy of the notice will be sent to the trainee’s home institution’s doctoral training coordinator.
1). Written Notice – A trainee will be notified that his or her performance or behavior is a concern. This will include a written notice of the concern(s), and will include suggested recommendations for addressing the problem. This notice will be given at a meeting with the individual’s site supervisor. This meeting might include other relevant personnel (i.e., Training Coordinator, academic program supervisor, Assistant Director for Training, or others). The written notice should indicate a reasonable time for the trainee to respond to concerns and recommendations. If a trainee does not feel the Written Notice is fair, the trainee should discuss this with the supervisor, and submit a written response to the supervisor to be placed in the trainee’s file. This response to the Written Notice should occur within one week of the discussion/presentation of the Written Notice.
2). Probation Notice – This signifies a significant concern regarding the trainee’s behavior, and may be given either in lieu of, or following a Written Notice. The Probation Notice will: describe the problem behavior(s) or conduct; would specify recommendations for rectifying the problems; and discuss how to assess the resolution of the problem behavior(s). This document would also specify the length of time the trainee will be given to resolve the problematic behavior.
Possible recommendations offered in a Probation Notice may include:
- Increased supervision, with the current supervisor, or with others
- Changes in the format or focus of supervision
- Recommendation that the trainee pursue personal therapy off-campus to resolve personal issues impacting professional performance
- Recommendation of a leave of absence from the training program
- Recommendation that an alternative Practicum or Internship be sought that may be more appropriate for the trainee’s current situation or skill set.
The trainee has one week to appeal the Probation Notice if the trainee feels it is unfair or unreasonable. See Appeal section for more information.
3). Hearing – A hearing may be held with relevant members of the Training Team to provide a formal process for the trainee to hear and respond to concerns. The academic training coordinator from the home institution may attend this hearing. Results of the hearing might include:
- Allowing continuation in the program with a formal remediation contract.
- Suspension from the Counseling Center’s Training Program – A recommendation for a suspension may be made to the trainee, allowing for future reconsideration for return to the Center’s training program after a designated time and demonstration that problematic behaviors have been resolved. This does not mean a guaranteed return to the program, rather that the trainee would be reconsidered for return to the Counseling Center program.
- Dismissal/Termination from the Counseling Center’s Training Program – A trainee may be dismissed from the Center’s training program (a) if problem behavior is not resolved satisfactorily or within the designated time frame designated in the probation notice or remediation contract (b) if the behavior is extreme enough to be considered “unacceptable” to the Training Team, to the degree that the recommendation is that the trainee should not be retained for remediation. The recommendation for Dismissal may be based on issues such as: inappropriate unethical behaviors; behaviors which make the trainee an exceptionally high risk for the Center to supervise; if the trainee has violated a core conduct standard for our Center (see trainee Contract for specifics), the problem is beyond that of reasonable training for the setting; or the trainee’s presence causes a severe disruption to professional functioning of other trainees or staff. All dismissals will be reported to the trainee’s home institution, and any relevant accrediting agencies.
- Appeal – This is the opportunity for the trainee to appeal actions taken by the Counseling Center regarding the problematic performance or behavior. The appeal may be requested following the Probation Notice, following the recommendations made during a Hearing, or following the decision to Suspend or Dismiss the trainee. This appeal would be presented to the Counseling Center Director, or if unavailable, the Assistant Director and would involve relevant personnel designated by the Director. All appeals submitted by the trainee should be made in writing within one week of the date that the decision/notification is given to the trainee. An appeal document should explain the reasons for the appeal and include any documentation or evidence that would warrant reconsideration for the decision. Responses to the Appeal may take additional time as they may involve consultation with officials at the university. While an Appeal is being reviewed a written document will be provided to the trainee explaining their options for involvement in the training program they will have, if any, until a decision is reached.
In the event that a trainee is dismissed/terminated from the NC State University Counseling Center training program the trainee will be given an end date or may be directed to leave the campus immediately. In most cases the trainee is expected to complete their notes and paperwork within a time frame designated by the Training Coordinator, Assistant Director for Training and/or the Center’s Director. The trainee will be paid for time worked, with their stipend ending the day after their designated date of termination. Health benefits will be effective through the last day of the following month. Keys and all university property must be returned by the last date of employment. All of the trainee’s personal belongings must be removed from campus by the termination date. Campus police may be involved in the removal process if necessary. Failure to comply with the terms of termination could result in legal action and reporting to the home institution and any relevant licensing boards, APA, and/or APPIC.