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Question about Licensing With Past convictions

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by shelzmike, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. shelzmike

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    To start with, I am sure the answer to this question varies from state to state, but here goes (I am in VA by the way).

    Okay, this may seem to be a strange path, but I am currently a student at Liberty University. I am a senior in the BS of Management Information Systems program. I love computers and technology and IT, but have realized recently that this is more of a hobby or a second choice, if you will. Ever since high school my true interest has been psychology. Why not a psychology undergrad degree you might ask? Well, a couple of reasons, but not very good ones.

    I have recently been looking into getting a Masters in Professional Counseling (with the goal being an LPC license) once I am finished with my bachelors. I should have no problem getting into a master program as I have a 3.9 GPA and meet most of the other requirements as well. After that, I plan on getting a Doctorate in Professional counseling).

    Now, about the convictions part. About 10 years ago I made a huge mistake due to a momentary lapse of judgment and was convicted of a felony (forgery and uttering a check - long story, but the bottom line is that it is there). I had not before, nor since gotten into any other trouble, not even a speeding ticket.

    By the time I would even be eligible for a license, I will have my civil rights restored and have hopefully gotten a simple pardon.

    I do not want to give up on my dreams, especially since this conviction does not exemplify who I really am. However, I am also realistic and know that this plan involves a lot of time and money, which I am willing to commit to. That being said, I do not obviously want to waste my time and money to just get turned down at the gate, if you will.

    That being said, does anyone have any insight into how licensing boards (specifically in VA, but I am also interested in any information as well) approach this situation? Is there a blanket regulation or is this type of thing taken on a case by case basis? If it is the latter, even with no guarantees I would still pursue it.

    Thanks in advance for any help on the subject.


    Mike
     
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  3. rmenoch

    Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Hey Mike,

    So according to the Virginia Board of Psychology's Regulations Governing the Practice of Psychology, "The board may take disciplinary action or deny a license for any of the following causes: 1. Conviction of a felony, or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude..." This prohibition seems a little fuzzy, given the ‘moral turpitude' part.

    The Virginia Board of Psychology does ask for disclosure of prior misdemeanors and felonies on the application for licensure; however, they give the applicant the opportunity to provide an explanation and provide supporting documentation. So it would appear that they take mitigating factors into account when making decisions regarding licensure. Your best bet would be to directly contact the Virginia Board of Psychology, since they can better explain the ambiguity of these 'rules'. Good luck in acheiving all of your goals!
     
  4. WannaBeDrMe

    2+ Year Member

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    You are right... it does vary state to state. Just be honest with your program upon application b/c there's a very real possibility that it will limit your internship options.

    That being sad, it's not impossible. In my social work program (pretty good school, pretty competitive), we had a guy with serious felony convictions who had even served some time on an official sentence. There were special negotiations I knew nothing about with his case... he actually didn't graduate, so I can't speak to his licensure process, but the dept didn't seem to think he'd have an issue or they wouldn't have allowed him to do a clinical internship.

    We had another guy with some drug-type convictions (though I don't know that they were felony) and he not only graduated and is fully licensed... but he won a National merit-based/performance award during our 2nd year of courses.

    Hope that helps a little with at least a few examples of people being able to get through the process (or @ least steps of it) with convictions.

    Be well.
     
  5. pingouin

    pingouin just chillin'
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I was thinking that in addition to licensure, you'd also run across questions like rmemnoch mentioned on other applications, such as for managed care panels and malpractice insurance. Again, as with each state, it would be up to each company as to whether they would be willing to work with you.

    However, before you embark on any of this, I would agree with rmemnoch that talking to the state is your best route to take at this point before you move any further on your applications.
     
  6. shelzmike

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    Hey all -

    Thanks so much for your honest reponses. As far as contacting the state board directly. I have done so already - it is just taking them a long time to get back to me and it was on my mind and I wanted to get a discussion going. I saw the reference to convictions resulting from "moral turpitude" and you are correct in saying that they are ambiguous at best. To me, that is somewhat of a redundant statement. At its most basic level it would seem that any crime is one of moral turpitude; otherwise, it wouldn't be a crime right? I suppose that I have a pretty good shot - it is just a big jump to take without knowing at least 75%. I am guessing that phrasing is somewhat of a legal flex - allowing for the board to be exempt from discrimination liability for denying anyone. It is open for interpretation as it may seem.

    I actually went to see my old probation officer yesterday to get paperwork I had been meaning to go by and get for some time now and we talked for about a half an hour. Not that this matters (but might in the explanation phase when I get to that point in re: references and whatnot), but she has always said that I am the most unique case she has ever had. She has always felt bad for me (which I am not sure how to take really) because she knows this was one case of bad judgement and she was not sure that I had the best lawyer who might have been able to work something better out. At the time I was 19 years old and could not afford a lawyer. I had a court appointed one, which means that she is probably correct. Although I was convicted, the judge did say that she recognized that I made a huge mistake and that it was not in my nature to normally do so. That being said I got no jail time and only had fines, restitution, and probation. I paid all my fines and restituion and abided by my probation terms and was what could be called the "model probationee" I suppose.

    Most days I have accepted the fact that this happened and I have to live with the consequences. In addition to that, I resolved a long time ago that I will do everything I can to not have any of that hold me back from what I want to do in life. However, there are some days that I still get angry (mostly at myself) that this is still hanging over my head and will be for the rest of my life even though I paid my dues and accepted my punishment. It just goes to show that one simple momentary lapse of judgement can change your life forever.

    I have always racked my brain and could never really come up with an idea of WHY I actually did it - it was not at all like me to do something like that. I was an honor student, 4th in my class, volunteered for the rescue sqad for 5 years (4 while in high school, 1 after), volunteered for the LOA and meals on wheels, was heavily involved in my church and youth mission trips among other things.

    It was so stupid. Although, I have a theory that I did not think of until years later. About 3 months before the incident I was rushed to the hospital with what later turned out to be a massive panic attack and I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks. I had it bad for a while (as an aside, I am nearly 100% healed from this - all done without medicine) and the doctors had put me on a regimen of Effexor XR, Tofranil, and Atavan(later Xanax). After a while the Effexor started "working" I suppose. I was not anxious anymore - actually I was pretty much emotionless. I was not really happy, sad, anxious, nervous, etc. - I was just "there". Where as before I cared about too much too often, on the Effexor I was the opposite - it made me really not care. In a way I think that this had something to do with my actions that fateful day. I always wonder if I would have made the same decision if it were not for the Effexor. Hard to say and too late to say now. Needless to say I was not convinced that the pills were the way to go. I hated the way they made me feel and they were really only masking my underlying issues. About 5 months after the incident, I stopped taking all my meds and decided to tackle the anxiety itself. I am happy to say it was 100% successful. In fact, it is this area of psychology that I am most interested in (there are other areas as well though too).

    Anyhow that was a huge tangent, but I felt like getting that out! Thanks again for the comments! Have a great New Year!

    Mike
     

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