WHAT DOES A FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST DO?

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The day to day tasks of a forensic psychologist will depend on which specialty within the field they are working in. In general, a psychologist in this field is going to combine the field of psychology and the field of law. Many forensic psychologists will work in a criminal justice setting, …a psychologist in this field is going to combine the field of psychology and the field of law”private practice, therapy or research setting. Some psychologists will work directly to help find criminals, while others will work directly with criminals in the justice system.

Research

Individuals working in forensic psychology and the academic fields are often in the process of conducting research. This research often concentrates on criminals, their behavior and treatment patterns. Some forensic psychologists choose to teach in their field and combine that teaching with research in their area of interest. Forensic psychologists in the academic or research areas do not spend much time face to face with individuals in the criminal system. Instead, their time is concentrated on the theories and research behind why someone behaves a certain way and how to predict those patterns.

Corrections

Forensic psychologists who work in the corrections field can usually be found at a jail or prison. Their psychology skills are used to provide therapy and education to the inmates on a regular basis. Some forensic psychologists in this area will also consult on outside criminal cases or do their own research in the field of forensic psychology. The day to day job of a psychologist within the corrections field is to ensure prisoners are getting their basic mental health needs met, understanding more about prisoners, and eventually helping to transfer a prisoner from the enclosed prison to their new life of freedom.

Courts

Providing various forms of psychological assessments is often the job of a forensic psychologist that is working in the court system. Judge ordered assessments are often the key to a defense or prosecution case and it is completed by a forensic psychologist. Through their knowledge of both psychology and the law, forensic psychologists in this field spend much of their time with individuals, doing testing and testifying in court cases. Psychologists in this area are sometimes contracted by a specific defense or prosecution team for the sole purpose of helping to prove a criminal case.

Profiling

This type of forensic psychologist is the first one to come to mind when you think of this specialty. Individuals with many years of law enforcement, combined with a forensic psychology background, have the necessary knowledge to read criminal cases and help find the individuals. Psychologists might work directly with a police department or other government agency to develop a profile of the criminal they are looking for. It is more difficult to get into this area of specialty than any other area of the forensic psychology field.

Understanding what a forensic psychologist does includes being aware of the various fields of work available to them. Academic research or teaching, corrections, the courts and criminal profiling are just a few of the areas someone with a forensic psychology degree might work in. The field of forensic psychology is a broad field which includes many different sub-types and specialties.

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