Does going to counseling jeopardize your security clearance?

In April 2008, the Department Defense Department officials changed a question on the department’s long-standing security clearance form referencing an applicant’s mental health history because they believe it is needlessly preventing some people from seeking counseling.

The Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, asks the applicant to acknowledge mental health care in the past seven years. It does not ask for treatment details if the care involved only marital, family, or grief counseling, not related to violence by the applicant, unless the treatment was court-ordered.

Officials said surveys have shown that troops feel if they answer “yes” to the question, they could jeopardize their security clearances, required for many occupations in the military.

As of April 18 2008, applicants no longer have to acknowledge care under the same conditions, nor if the care was related to service in a military combat zone. The revised wording has been distributed to the services and will be attached to the cover of the questionnaire. The revised question should not show up printed on the forms unless the department has not depleted its pre-printed stock.