What Does A Forensic Psychologist Do?

Forensic Psychology – Beyond Silence Of The Lambs

If you have the usual question, what is forensic psychology or have your own version of the answer, you will be glad to know that even psychologists in the field are divided as to what the answer is! Welcome to the world of forensic psychology, one of the fastest growing fields of psychology, world-wide. One of the first visuals that come to mind when you talk of forensic psychology is perhaps Silence of the Lambs. But, the science goes much beyond that and the scope is ever increasing for forensic psychologists. So who is a forensic psychologist and where will you find them? In short, you may find a forensic psychologist in:

  • Prison/correctional services
  • As clinical psychologists in special hospitals & the psychiatric services
  • As Educational psychologists in correctional institutions
  • As Occupational psychologists & Academics

It is important to remember that forensic psychology because the nature and scope of work that it covers, is typically connected with the law. In short, from a layperson’s point of view, forensic psychology would be this: Any court of law requires a formal collection, testing and subsequent presentation of crucial evidence by which the legal proceedings can take a direction. Thus it is critically important that if you intend to study forensic psychology in the U.S.A, make sure you are equally well-versed about the American justice system.
What Is A Forensic Psychologist
You could also say that this particular branch of psychology applies various psychology theories and principles to solve legal disputes, which could include disputes over child custody, ill-treatment of children, assessing whether a person is sane enough to manage his own affairs, whether a man is able enough to stand in a court of trial, and giving advice to judges whether a particular person can pose any future to risk to society at large.

Forensic psychologists play a variety of roles in and outside the court of law:

  1. If a person is not competent enough to stand trial, a forensic psychologists examine the individual and sends his or her recommendations.
  2. Forensic psychologists also examine criminals who claim insanity as a mode of defending themselves in trial.
  3. Forensic psychologists assess an individual’s chances of committing repeated offenses or if there is any risk factor if he is set free. They also send their recommendations for sentences, granting probation, and stipulate conditions for parole.
  4. Forensic psychologists analyze criminal intentions, motivations for committing a crime and the personal attitudes of the subject.
  5. When it comes to juvenile matters, forensic psychologists determine whether the youth or child should be sent for rehabilitation. They also help prosecuting attorneys, defending lawyers, and other law enforcement authorities in assessing various abnormal and behaviors which are criminal in nature. They also ‘profile’ criminals applying psychological principles.
  6. If a person is considered to be incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty on grounds of having lost his/her sanity, forensic psychologists work in conjunction with other facilitators to offer rehabilitation to the person accused.

To become a forensic psychologist, you must be a doctoral or be equipped with a Psy.D in clinical psychology. In America, a forensic psychologist must be licensed. She/He also needs to hold a Diploma in Forensic Psychology awarded by the American Board of Forensic Psychology. Minimum 4 years of postdoctoral working experience as a forensic psychologist, along with 100 hours of special training is necessary to qualify. Prospective students researching how to become a psychologist are often drawn to the forensic aspect of psychology.

Best Forensic Psychology Schools

Forensic psychologists practice where psychology meets the law. Opportunities exist to practice at court clinics, prisons, mental health clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and of course your own private practice. Given below are some of the best places in America from where you could earn a forensic psychology degree. While a psychology degree from a worthy school can open up vast career opportunities, these schools are particularly well-known for their curriculum of forensic psychology:

1. Alliant International University, San Diego, California

Ph.D and Psy.D in Clinical Psychology with special focus on Family, Health, Family/Child Psychology; Forensic Psychology; Multicultural & International Psycho-dynamics. Programs of this university integrate research education with clinical training. Their psychology courses lay special emphasis on several problems and diagnostic procedures encountered at clinics, thus giving the students a practical know-how of the subject. Alliant University is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Visit Their Site

2. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York

You could earn a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from this premier institute, where the program is designed to enable practitioners render psychological back up services to the criminal and civil judiciaries. Psychopathological developments, assessment of different personalities and psychotherapeutic procedures and research modules are all part of the curriculum. Visit Their Site

3. Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The school is a unique one of its kind institution in the Midwest. The master’s degree in Forensic Psychology focuses on the application of psychological techniques and principles to the legal system. Job opportunities for graduates of this school span across many fields including probationary services, court services units, criminal risk assessment, law enforcement, and child advocacy centers. You need to be an undergraduate with a GPA score of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school is mandatory to get admission to this school. Visit Their Site

4. Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Boston

This premier psychology school offers a pre- doctoral program Forensic Psychology. Applications are made in the Fall of second year and start the course at the beginning of their third year. This value-added program consists of core coursework along with necessary courses to be completed by the end of the second year, two internships, each lasting for two years and a doctoral project which is relevant in the area of forensic psychology. Visit Their Site

5. University of Denver

You could earn the Master’s degree in forensic psychology from this university. The degree is an add-on to the basic clinical psychology training. Course work includes practical study in the area of psychology and law. Excellent for those who wish to become mental health practitioners. Visit Their Site

Forensic Psychology Degree Online

Forensic psychology is one of the branches of psychology which is growing at a very rapid rate. This is borne by the popularity of practicing clinical psychology within the American legal system as well as the growing interest of undergraduate and graduate students in the subject. For obvious reasons, this particular aspect of psychology is a matter of great interest to movie makers as well as the media. Behind any sensational criminal story, there is a role of a forensic psychologist. The science has also taken giant steps in terms of research and development. Though regularly sensationalized by the media, the practice of forensic psychology need not be as dramatic in real life.

Graduates of forensic psychology typically assist practicing forensic psychologists. They are their right and left hands. They could be engaged in analyzing behavior characteristics and portrays the mind of those charged with a criminal offence. They also play a role during court battles with regard to legal custody of children. A post graduate degree in this subject prepares students to render service in criminal courts, work in mental health centers, etc. They also assess criminal minds, and work closely with law enforcement authorities.

To suit every kind of student need, and matching the convenience of any online psychology degree, a forensic psychology degree online is also widely available. Since online education benefits a working individual best, you could take your pick from any of the renowned institutes, which suit your individual career goals best. Here are some of the schools, from where you could earn an online degree in forensic psychology:

  1. Tiffin University – This University is located in Ohio. A master’s degree from this University is considered ideal for working managers and clinicians who are currently working both in the field of criminology or juvenile judicial systems.
  2. Eisner Institute for Professional Studies in California offers online Masters(M.A.) and Doctoral(Psy.D.) programs.
  3. University of North Dakota offers post graduation degree which equips you to apply psychology theories in legal practice.
  4. Prescott College located in Prescott, Arizona, offers online master’s program on Counseling and Psychology.
  5. Charles Sturt University offers a four-year program to earn a post-graduate degree. It is clinical psychology-based with a forensic psychology focus.
  6. Canyon College in Caldwell, ID offers master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology – an online degree program. The college also offers an online M.A degree in Forensic Psychology.
  7. Adelphi University (Garden City, NY) offers master’s degrees both in Forensic Science as well as Forensic Psychology. After completing these courses, students are expected to be able to examine and interpret data using the forensic psychology principles.
  8. Alliant University Fresno and Los Angeles offers Forensic Psychology Doctoral Program. Alliant International University offers both PsyD or PhD degrees.

Analyze the courses offered by each institution and be sure to choose those that match your psychology career goals.

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