Due to the multi-dimensional nature of today’s world, everything has become intertwined, even professions. From that aspect, even the legal profession relies on multiple branches to deliver on concrete decisions.

One of these critical branches is forensic psychology. As the field of forensic psychology has developed over time, everything from forensic psychology information to forensic psychology schools have silhouetted themselves out from the trend. Let’s explore the field of forensic psychology.

Forensic Psychology Definition

The word “forensic” comes from the Latin word “forensis,” meaning “of the forum,” where the law courts of ancient Rome were held. According to the American Board of Forensic Psychology, “forensic psycjobhology is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.”

History of Forensic Psychology

Basis for Forensic Research in the Legal Profession

J. McKeen Cattell conducted some of the earliest research on the psychology of testimony in 1895 at Columbia University. He posed a series of questions to students, asking them to provide a response and rate their degree of confidence in their answer. Cattell’s results indicated a surprising degree of inaccuracy, which generated interest among other psychologists who went on to conduct experiments on eyewitness testimony.

Evolution of the Profession

Inspired by Cattell’s work, Alfred Binet replicated Cattell’s research and studied the results of other psychology experiments that applied to law and criminal justice. His work in intelligence testing was also important to the development of forensic psychology, as many future assessment tools were based on his work.

What do Forensic Psychologists do?

Forensic psychology professionals conduct a wide range of tasks, depending on the type of courts they are assigned to. The following are some

Family Court

  • Child Custody Evaluations
  • Visitation Risk Assessments
  • Grandparent Visitation Evaluations
  • Mediation of Parental Conflicts about Children
  • Child Abuse Evaluations
  • Adoption Readiness Evaluations
  • Development of Family Reunification Plans
  • Evaluations to Assess Termination of Parental Rights

Psychotherapy Roles

  • Parent-child family counseling
  • Therapeutic supervised visitation
  • Parenting skills training
  • Anger management
  • Divorce adjustment counseling for children and adults
  • Parental communication skills training

Civil Court

  • Personal Injury Evaluations
  • IME Second Opinion Evaluations
  • Assessment of Emotional Factors in Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
  • Worker’s Compensation Evaluations
  • Civil Competency Evaluations
  • Psychological Autopsies

In civil court cases, forensic psychologists also provide psychotherapy and counseling to individuals for the following problems:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Phobias Related to Traumatic Events
  • Psychological Factors in Chronic Pain
  • Adjustment Counseling following trauma
  • Couple Counseling regarding the impact of the trauma on the relationship
  • Desensitization

Criminal Court

  • Evaluations of Juveniles accused of criminal acts
  • Juvenile Pre-sentencing Evaluations
  • Juvenile Probation Evaluations
  • Juvenile Waiver Evaluations
  • Evaluating the Credibility of Child Witnesses
  • Assessment of Juvenile and Adult Sexual Offenders
  • Competency and Diminished Capacity Evaluations
  • Adult Pre-sentencing Evaluations

Forensic psychologists also provide counseling and psychotherapy services to individuals involved with the criminal court, in cases such as

  • Counseling of individuals who violate restraining orders
  • Counseling juveniles on probation
  • Supportive counseling for the victims of crimes
  • Counseling of individuals awaiting trial
  • Counseling adults on probation
  • Anger management skills training for violent offenders
  • Counseling and psychotherapy for sexual offenders

Careers in Forensic Psychology

The following are some job descriptions in forensic psychology, that are commonly found across the profession. They provide critical insight into the type of work that lies ahead after a forensic psychology degree

Forensic Psychiatrists in Corporations

  • Determine the mental fitness of an individual to participate in the program for new applicants
  • Provide psychiatric consultation regarding employees mental fitness to senior staff
  • Provide program consultation for high-risk individuals and situations, including risk management planning with senior staff
  • Support training exercises and policy development for Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and next-of-kin notification in case of line-of-duty deaths

Victim Advocates

  • Provide crisis intervention services for non-offending parents of alleged child victims of sexual/physical abuse prior to forensic interviews
  • Conduct brief needs assessment by interviewing non-offending parents of all child victims and providing referrals to necessary services
  • Provide education regarding legal process, answer questions and provide advocacy for parents
  • Manage the Case Review process by consulting regularly with parents and multidisciplinary team of child protection, law enforcement, family court and prosecuting attorney’s offices professionals to ensure follow-up on cases

Forensic Psychology Salaries

Salaries within forensic psychology can range greatly depending on the sector of employment, although most entry-level positions for those with a doctorate degree start out between $35,000 and $40,000 annually. Those in private practice who offer consulting services typically earn more.