Forensic psychology applies psychological principles to the criminal justice system. It explores how psychological knowledge might be used to investigate and evaluate legal issues and matters relating to crime and procedure.
Forensic psychologists work in many different settings, such as:
- Police departments
- Probation and parole offices
- Private practices
- Child protective services
The goal of forensic psychology is to come to conclusions that help inform legal arguments without interrupting the process. As a result, there is a great focus on resolving the conflicts between psychological ethics and legal requirements.
This work can involve making observations and conducting interviews with people involved in a case. Forensic psychologists may be responsible for summarizing and reporting a psychological profile to the judge and jury.
That isn’t to say that forensic psychologists do not occupy any health psychology or clinical psychology roles. Their familiarity with criminal cases puts them in a unique position to provide counsel to victims of violent crimes.
For work in the field of forensic psychology, students must complete an accredited doctoral program and pass a state licensing exam.