What You Should Know About Forensic Psychologists
What is a Forensic Psychologist?
Forensic psychologists are involved in a professional space where mental health meets criminal and civil law. They provide services to social service organizations, public safety teams, the courts, and the military. Forensic psychologists are experts when it comes to understanding the psychology of criminals related to motives, mental illness, and profiling. They work alongside other legal specialists and authorities as they select juries, counsel suspected criminals with mental illness, meet with lawyers, help determine if witnesses are credible, and assess whether accused criminals are competent enough to be put on trial.
Forensic Psychologist Jobs and Work Settings
There are many diverse career opportunities available to forensic psychologists. It is a constantly changing and evolving field, especially as mental health begins to play a larger role in understanding criminal activity, intent, and competency.
Most forensic psychologists work for universities, consulting firms, police departments, and government agencies. Some also choose to work privately as consultants. Forensic science consultants are typically hired to conduct accused criminal, witness, and jury assessments. They also meet with police officials to discuss ways to reduce crime, improve police interrogations, and other important matters.
Forensic psychologists can also excel in the research and academic side of forensic psychology. An example of this research is to observe and test different ways to improve mental health assessments and interrogation techniques.
Most psychologists enter this field to work for benefit of the public. While this is rewarding, it can also be mentally and emotionally challenging as these specialists are often in close contact with mentally ill and possibly violent criminals.
Networking opportunities do exist for forensic psychologists through The American Psychological Association (APA). See here for more details.
Forensic Psychology Degrees and Training
State licensing boards typically only offer professional licenses to forensic psychologists with a PhD. Forensic psychologists with master’s degrees can find jobs at research firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
There are few forensic psychology graduate programs offered in the United States. People interested in this field should major in a related subject and take courses in forensic science, criminology, statistics, criminal law, and psychology.
Forensic Psychology Associations and Groups
For additional information about forensic psychologist careers and to read the top news and research stories in the forensic psychology field, visit the following associations and groups: