Forensic Psychologist

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Introduction to Forensic Psychologist

Criminal activities and criminals are a common and major problem of the society. Though the law and enforcement department takes proper steps and measures to prevent them and punish them, there is no guarantee that they would not revert back to their criminal activities and victimize innocent civilians. Research studies have proven that in most cases, what leads these criminals to indulge in harmful and criminal activities is a mental disorder or mental health issues.

Hence, the only way to stop them from doing criminal acts is by bringing them back to a normal course of life. Forensic Counseling is a discipline of Psychology, where the Forensic Psychologists counsel the criminals by staying within the limits of law and enforcement. Not just the criminals, but also those individuals, who have been suffering from extreme mental health issues that could lead them to possible criminal actions, are counseled by these professional Forensic Psychologists.

The duties of a Forensic Psychologist are

  • Assessing the mental health of the individual
  • Analyzing the behavior of the individual
  • Assess the ability of the guilty to stand for trial or to plea.

Steps to Become a Forensic Psychologist

Unlike most other usual fields and disciplines of Psychology studies and counseling jobs, the Forensic Psychology is quite different and requires special educational qualification.

  1. A Bachelor’s Degree:

Whereas, in most other fields of Psychology study, an individual with any other field of education could pursue further higher studies of Psychology, in case of Forensic Psychology, an individual must complete an undergraduate degree in Psychology or Counseling or in criminal justice system. The coursework must include dealing with mental health issues and disorders.

  1. A Master’s Degree:

Forensic Psychology is a very intense and highly impactful field of education. Hence, simply knowing the counseling techniques or knowing about the justice system would not be enough. The NAFC or ¬† National Association of Forensic Counselors states that a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology is a must. This higher educational degree ensures that the person learns the techniques to deal with the criminals and work in criminal settings.

  1. Licensing:

After completing a Master’s Degree in this field, the psychologist requires a counseling license to practice in this field. For that the individual has to take a national test and also follow the other rules and regulations.

Find Your State’s Licensing Requirements

Every state in the USA has its own licensing specifications. The American Counseling Association clearly states about the licensing requirements of the different state boards. The usual requirements for the licensing process include training under a professional or fieldwork along with the test, in order to understand the nature of the work in practical life and field. It will help the individual to understand the system and how to deal with criminals.

Skills You’ll Need

The role of a Forensic Psychologist is an intense one. Often, the sentences and trials of the criminal are largely dependent on the testimony of the psychologist. If he or she assesses that the criminal act that the suspect has conducted, was a result of a mental health issue, the sentences and trails are different.

The Forensic Psychologists have to work with criminals, criminal-minded individuals, harmful and unpredictable individuals. This is not a job of any and every individual person. It requires a number of skills.

  • Analyzing skills: The criminal mind needs to be analyzed, so that whether it is a planned act of crime or a result of a mental health issues, is determined.
  • Strong reasoning power: The Forensic Psychologists need to have strong reasoning power, understanding of the crime scene analysis and the techniques to determine the mental health of the suspect. He or she might have to deal with the loved ones of the suspect to understand the whole scenario.
  • Compassionate and patient: This process is a lengthy one and hence, the Forensic Psychologist needs to be patient. He or she might have to deal with the patient for long and treat him or her properly, so that the mental health problem is solved. Regardless of the nature of the criminal, the Forensic Psychologist has to be compassionate, to bring the criminal back to the normal course of life.
  • Educational skills: The Forensic Psychologists need to stay updated about the constantly updating and changing rules and regulations of forensic science and counseling systems and techniques as well as the judicial system, so that he or she might perform by staying within the system regulations.

Job Prospects

Forensic Counseling may take place at any step of the justice system. The task of the Forensic Psychologist is to make sure that the individual does not indulge in any of the criminal activities as a consequence of his or her mental health issues. Hence, in most cases the counselors have to work in prison or hospitals and in other such communities.

The Forensic Psychologists have to work in the correctional centers or institutions, where the criminals are housed and correctional facilities are provided. These correctional centers could be jails and penitentiaries.

An individual Forensic Psychologist may also choose to work with young criminals. In that case, the employment would be in halfway houses. In some cases, these psychologists may also choose to work with those patients, who have been suffering from serious mental health issues and are ate a higher risk of breaking law.

The Forensic Psychologists may also be asked to testify for the criminals and their mental condition, in order to clarify a situation. In that case, the individuals have to face the lawyers and judges.

Find Your State Licensing Requirements

Whether you need to complete an internship or a doctoral degree, licensing requirements may vary from state to state. Click name of state below to find licensing requirement for that particular state.

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