Forensic psychology is one of the many areas of specialization of Forensic Science. It deals with assessment, evaluation and detection of mental illnesses and human behavioural patterns. It also concerns with the collection, examination and presentation of evidence for legal purposes. This psychological information helps facilitate a legal decision.
What forensic psychologists do
Forensic psychologist typically assesses the behavioural pattern of an individual by in-depth study and research. Forensic psychology jobs could include several factors.
• may help a jury decide which parent should have the custody of a child in custody cases.
• may evaluate the injury of a victim to assess any psychological damage in compensation cases
• may evaluate a defendant's capability to stand a trial and counsel the inmates /probationers and victims of crimes.
• may chalk out a program to control anger and curb criminal tendencies of an accused.
• may testify as an expert witness in legal proceedings.
• may help victims cope with emotional stress and resume normal activities.
Forensic psychology as a career
Forensic psychologists are employed in various domains by govt, state and local authorities. Some also have a private practice. Forensic psychology jobs can include many roles as follows
Family therapist: One who identifies family patterns to evaluate mental illnesses within the family and helps overcome behavioural disorders through group/individual therapy.
Criminal Psychologist: One who studies, analyses and evaluates the mindset of a criminal while committing a crime and the reactions there-after. Often helps a jury understand the psyche of a criminal by being an expert witness in a case.
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Qualified Medical Evaluator: One who examines an employee for workers compensation injury claims and submits evaluations of a disability/injury based on which the compensation claims of the employee may be decided.
Lawyer: One who gives expert legal advice to clients and helps them represent their case in a court.
Counselling Psychologist: One, who assesses, evaluates the personal and interpersonal functioning of an individual through the life span by studying various emotional, social and vocational aspects and helps increase his potential to lead a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
Developmental Psychologist: One who studies the human development through one's lifespan and analyses the social, emotional, intellectual growth of an individual and its effect on the development of personality. They work in various specialised areas like schools dealing with development of children, govt agencies to help evaluate and treat individuals suffering from various disabilities, old age home to help elderly lead an independent life, rehabilitation clinics to name a few.
With regard to forensic psychology jobs, an individual with a doctoral program can work in many of the institutions that include the courts and correctional organisations, psychology departments of colleges/universities, hospital/clinics, churches/ religious groups, nursing homes. While positions for a master's degree are available in personnel departments, prisons, research firms, forensic units of mental health institutions and law enforcement agencies.
For forensic psychology jobs, you should possess the ability to observe and analyse details, present evaluated data, write technical documents based on research and a strong interpersonal communication skills. You must also have the ability to mediate and contribute policy guidelines apart from strong knowledge of the legal system.