A growing number of states are requiring psychologists
to undergo criminal background checks.
By Rebecca A. Clay
Neuropsychologist Paul L. Craig, PhD, has treated patients in his private practice in Anchorage for 34 years without any complaints. Now, he says, Alaska’s psychology licensing board wants to treat him like a potential
Earlier this year, the state legislature considered a bill that would require
all psychologists and master’s-level psychological associates applying for their
first licenses to be fingerprinted. The bill could open the door to requiring even
psychologists renewing existing licenses to undergo criminal history checks.
Although the legislation — which was pushed by Alaska’s Board of Psychologist
and Psychological Associate Examiners — was tabled this time, Craig and others
expect it to return in the next legislative session.
“I have nothing to hide,” says Craig. “I just don’t feel like fingerprinting
An emerging trend
psychologists is necessary or appropriate.”
Alaska is among a growing number of states that are requiring such background
checks when psychologists apply for their first licenses, and some are requiring
fingerprinting even for psychologists seeking license renewals. The issue is dividing
psychologists. While some see fingerprinting as an inconvenience, an invasion of
privacy and even a violation of equal protection rights, others view it as a natural
next step in enhancing patient protection.
Technological advances have made it easier than ever for the Federal Bureau of
Investigation to check fingerprints against a database that can identify criminal
convictions anywhere in the country, even if someone has changed names or