All About Forensic Psychology

Written by Alicia Mathew

When most people think about Psychology, they often forget forensic Psychology, no matter how complex and interesting it is under the surface. Forensic Psychology is a field of Psychology that combines law with psychological analyses. 

Lately, forensic Psychology has become extremely popular, mainly because of certain television series that highlight aspects of forensic Psychology, such as, “Criminal Minds”. However, this show fails to truly present the intricacies of this field.

Forensic Psychology is defined as the application of psychological specialties to legal issues. It is performed through the application of the aforementioned specialties in legal affairs. Forensic, from the Latin word, forensic, meaning “of the market place or form, public” (Merriam-Webster), most nearly means the application of different scientific methods and ideas from various fields to criminal matters. The median salary for this profession is $79,010.

Psychology, the study of the mind and behavior, is crucial to law and the criminal court. Forensic Psychology, the combination and application of these two topics, is used for everything from conducting psychological evaluations to preventing crimes. Similar to other fields of psychology, forensic Psychology also contains subspecialties. Some of these include correctional psychology, military psychology, and juvenile psychology. All of these specialties are under the term, “Forensic Psychology”, since they all revolve around using psychological methods as they apply to the justice system. 

During their working hours, forensic psychologists perform various duties. Even though some of these duties might not resemble those of the fast-paced and exciting crime dramas that are based on this field, the profession is exciting and fun nonetheless. These psychologists often work with individuals such as attorneys, judges, and other professionals in the legal area. They attempt to understand and explain certain psychological aspects that have an impact on a criminal case, and many of these psychologists are asked to testify as an expert witness during the case. Other responsibilities include evaluating criminals for mental status and competency, teaching in programs for forensic Psychology, evaluating witnesses and jurors, and evaluating individuals during child custody cases.

To become a forensic psychologist, one must complete a reasonable amount of coursework after high school. However, a doctoral degree is necessary to evaluate patients. Certain programs may waive the requirement for a bachelor’s degree in psychology in exchange for a certain amount of psychology and science classes. After schooling, one must go through the licensing process, which, in the majority of cases, includes a required standardized test. 

Regarding the work environment for professionals in this area, forensic psychologists are normally allotted flexible working hours. They also have the option to start what is known as a “private practice”, or a business that is created to allow medical professionals to self-employ and practice their profession. To perform their job correctly and to become an asset to their work environment, forensic psychologists need to have certain character traits, such as good communication skills, objectivity, compassion, and critical thinking skills. 

All in all, forensic psychology is a relatively new psychological specialty, but a specialty that is becoming more and more prevalent in the media. Forensic psychology is fascinating and rewarding for those who have an interest in both law, and psychology and is a wonderful career path for those who are seriously considering it. 

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