Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology

Have you ever heard of a subfield of psychology that comes of huge utility to lawyers, police officers and the judicial system in general? If you cannot imagine this intersection, prepare yourself to get a tiny shock when this article delves deep into the one, that is turning out to be one of the most popular choices of study among psychology graduates.

What is Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychology is a popular subfield in the discipline of psychology that pertains to the legal systems. It involves the application of psychological knowledge to the field of law to seek solutions for issues concerning criminal and civil proceedings. It focuses on comprehending the criminal activities committed by people by attempting to analyze factors that cause them to move in a deviated path than the others. Forensic psychology involves an in-depth understanding of the developmental, cognitive, and behavioural nuances of people with criminal offence records.

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What do Forensic Psychologists do?

Forensic psychologists, although, they belong to a very new-aged discipline, have a wide plethora of functions to perform in the arena of criminal and civil law. These professionals are required to conduct psychological assessments of individuals for legal purposes. These assessments would provide critical information about the involved individual in various arenas, for example, it could drive their criminal sentencing, parole procedures he or she may be directed for, for probable child custody and issues involving a divorce or family dynamics-related cases etc.

They focus on understanding the intrinsic roots of the offences committed by these individuals which could probably be rooted in their childhood or even teenage circumstantial baggage. Forensic psychologists also undertake psychotherapies for these individuals booked in both civil and criminal cases. While in criminal these therapies majorly attempt to reduce the probability of repeating the offence, people in civil cases mostly undergo therapies that help them to tackle the underlying trauma and anxiety that may follow various civil cases they are involved in.

These psychologists may provide convicts with mental healthcare services such as screening, psychological assessment, individual treatment, group therapy, anger management, crisis management, court-ordered examinations, or daily inpatient rounds. They may also consult with prison officials, inmate attorneys, advocates, and court systems on a number of mental health-related subjects or suggestions gleaned from psychological evaluations. Expert evidence concerning psychological issues is another area in which forensic psychologists play an active role. Unlike fact witnesses, who are confined to testifying about what they know or have witnessed, expert witnesses can convey additional understanding about a situation or issue since, as the term implies, they are assumed to be “experts” in that area and have specialized information about it.

For forensic psychologists to be deemed expert witnesses, they must have clinical psychology expertise as well as an understanding of the statutes that govern the court in which they will testify. Forensic psychologists also take up the role of researchers and attempt to create scientific findings pertinent to psychology and the law, and they occasionally testify as expert witnesses. These individuals often hold a doctoral degree in psychology. These professionals may work in a variety of contexts, including colleges and universities, research institutions, government or commercial and mental health organizations. Researchers experimentally examine theories about challenges in psychology and law, such as jury research and studies on mental health law and policy review.


A student interested in pursuing forensic psychology must have completed an undergraduate degree in psychology or any other related field. A bachelor’s degree in these fields would take at least 3 or 4 years to complete. Furthermore, the student must have to complete a master’s degree in forensic psychology to ensure that they are equipped with a comprehensive understanding of criminal justice and psychology.

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To be an experienced forensic psychologist, one should also attempt to gain hands-on experience through internships and assistantships in rehabilitation centres, judicial systems, juvenile homes etc. A doctorate in forensic psychology would also enhance the work base that one can intervene in and would also help in providing them with a greater amount of knowledge about the intricacies of the field.

What are the skills necessary for a forensic psychologist?

There are multiple specific skills that a forensic psychologist must be equipped with to ensure the utmost delivery of his or her duties. These skills include:

Great communication skills

Forensic psychologists when working as corrections counsellors, victim advocates, and jury advisors all contact with individuals on a regular basis. Furthermore, the job may need one to remain in constant communication with convicts, crime victims, attorneys, and judges. As a result, excellent listening and speaking abilities are required.

It’s also critical to be equipped enough to alter one’s communication style based on the scenario. Conducting an anger management program in a correctional facility takes a different strategy than interviewing a sexual assault victim. Sometimes these professionals may be called to testify in court or discuss research findings in an academic context.

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Ability to remain objective

Because forensic psychology works with crime and the law, a career in this subject can be demanding and emotionally draining. To properly carry out their profession, forensic psychologists must be able to distance themselves from uncomfortable situations with their clients. Whether they are assisting criminals, victims, attorneys, or another party. These are professional interactions that require psychologists to honour their client’s requirements without developing emotional attachments or personal emotions.

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Ability to maintain keen attention

Perceptive observations and analysis are essential in many forensic psychology occupations. It is critical to pay attention to body language and be sensitive to a variety of communication methods. Corrections officers’ tasks frequently involve crisis management and inmate counselling. Reading body language and employing conflict resolution techniques are the first steps in resolving conflict. Meanwhile, if you deal with jurors and witnesses, studying body language and group dynamics will help you to consult on jury selection strategy recommendations.

In India, the job market for forensic psychologists is young but ever-growing and is of wonderful potential. Forensic psychologists, in India can partner and work under the Criminal Bureau of Investigation, Narcotics Bureau etc. The job pressure upon these professionals would certainly be nothing small. However, they play a pivotal role in bringing or even initiating reforms in our society and this could turn out to be a major incentive for people to drive the course of their career in this direction.

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