Alaska Moves to Mandate Background Checks for Psychologists

By Michael Klazema on 2/21/2015

There may soon be a new law on the books in Alaska, requiring all professional psychologists working in the state to undergo a background check. According to a report from the Associated Press, the Alaska legislature is considering a bill that would make background checks a mandatory component of the licensing process.

It might surprise some people to hear that not all practicing psychologists do have go through background checks to obtain a license. After all, most states require doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to go through criminal screening processes prior to being allowed to practice. These policies are in place to protect the safety and well being of patients, as well as to ensure a doctor-patient relationship that can be based on trust.

But while a relationship between a psychologist and a patient is absolutely one where trust is key, Alaska laws don't currently require practicing psychologists to face background checks. That's contrary to the desires of the state Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associate Examiners, though. Indeed, one board member interviewed by the Associated Press said that the board has been working for "several years" to make criminal background checks a standard part of the licensing process. So far, they've come up empty. That's because the Alaska Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associate Examiners isn't completely in charge of how psychologists get licensed in the state. In order to conduct background checks on applicants, the board needs state approval. In other words, the board needs the state legislature to pass a law expressly calling for background checks to be added to the licensing process.

From the looks of it, though, the board's wishes could finally be coming to fruition. A new bill currently working its way through the legislature would finally make psychologist background checks a reality in Alaska. The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee recently reviewed the bill and approved it for consideration by the full Senate. If passed, this new law would bring a much-needed overhaul to a system that has far too much potential for failure. The current system for licensing psychologists to practice in Alaska relies primarily on an honor system, asking applicants to disclose their criminal history. Alaska also checks a psychologist's license in other states, to make sure the practitioner is in good standing


Industry News

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 22 Countrywide, states and local municipalities have committed to ban the box legislation, seeking to equalize opportunities in the job market for those with criminal histories.
  • March 22

    Thinking about becoming a firefighter? Here are some of the background check requirements you might face.

  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants.