WHAT IS FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY?

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Forensic psychology has grown in popularity with the increase in television program and mainstream knowledge of the field. Forensic psychology is the melding of psychology and law. Individuals working in this field often find jobs at prisons, jails, police departments and government agencies. It is not uncommon for someone to work directly with attorneys, defendants, offenders or victims. Other psychologists specializing in forensic psychology may choose to work in colleges, universities or research settings.

Criminal Profiler

The first picture of a forensic psychologist that many of us get is the idea of someone who is able to look at a legal case and figure out what type of person would commit a crime. While it is certainly part of the field of forensic psychology, it is not the only way a psychologist in this field will spend their time. Understanding how psychology and the law intertwine is the forensic psychologist. They understand the psychology behind a criminal, crimes and rehabilitations; but the forensic aspect of their knowledge helps them understand the investigation, legal issues and individuals’ motives.

Understanding Psychopathology

The field of forensic psychology requires more than an in-depth knowledge or psychology and therapeutic techniques. To be a forensic psychologist you need to understand psychopathology, which is the study of maladaptive behavior and mental illness. A solid understanding of the motives individuals have for their criminal behaviors and the clinical assessment of individuals is also a needed part to this field of psychology.

Applied Field

Psychologists who practice forensic psychology in an applied setting are generally working with patients, attorneys or law enforcement personnel. These psychologists might work in a correctional facility providing treatment to inmates, group therapy, crisis management and evaluations. Some forensic psychologists might work with attorneys in a private practice situation where they are providing assessments in various forms and competency evaluations. There are a variety of different jobs a psychologist in the field of forensics could work in and each one has their own specific training and working descriptions.

Academic Field

Forensic psychologists that concentrate on academic settings might spend their time researching criminals and their mental processes. Other areas of specialty could include criminal profiling, mental health treatment effectiveness with offenders and jury selection techniques, just to name a few. The academic field is limitless. The impact of forensic psychologists in the academic field often rolls over to the day to day functioning of forensic psychologists in the applied field.

Forensic psychology is a complex field that involves the combining of psychological knowledge and a variety of law fields. Individuals who work in this field can find jobs with police departments and other correctional facilities, as well as therapeutic environments. Academic psychologists who want to specialize in forensic issues often turn to teaching or research in their field. Forensic psychology is more than just profiling of criminals; it is an in-depth psychology field with a variety of specialties all combining psychology and some form of legal field.

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