When a West Coast psychologist wanted to move to New York to be closer to his family, the state's licensing board required a letter from his internship supervisor. Unfortunately, the supervisor had died long before. As a result, the psychologist wasn't eligible for licensure.
When Ali Mattu, Chair-Elect of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students, heard the psychologist's tale, he immediately added credentials banking to his to-do list. "That story really scared me," says Mattu, who is doing an externship at the Columbia University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. "I don't want that to happen to me."
Credentials banking — submitting documentation about your internship, doctoral degree, postdoc and other credentials to a central repository for verification and storage — can offer peace of mind as well as convenience.
The credentials banking movement grew out of the frustration of senior psychologists trying to get licensed in new jurisdictions, says Judy E. Hall, PhD, executive officer of the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. "A supervisor may be dead," says Hall. "An internship may no longer exist. Or you may have had a job for which there's no documentation."
Now the push is to get graduate students and early career psychologists to bank their credentials as they earn them.
"What we're saying to young people is to get that supervisor to sign a form while they're right there in front of you, not 10 or 20 years later," says Stephen T. DeMers, EdD, executive officer of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).