Forensic psychology is an ideal career path for student who would like to use their knowledge to assists investigators to solve crimes and perpetrators of crimes accorded fair trials. Forensic psychology is a hybrid course that involves the combination of intensive knowledge of psychology and treatment of patient through complete understanding of legal process and laws. It is important to understand that forensic psychology comes with a lot of responsibilities, therefore, students intending to pursue or pursuing this course should be ready to expand their understanding and defend their expertise at all times(Bartol, & Bartol, 2008).
Unlike the traditional psychologists who helps the patients to live productive life and enjoy to the fullest, forensic psychology serves to determining the truth. It is often applied in court of law, when the mental state of the patient standing trial is required to be determined and tell whether the patient was in right state of mind when committing the alleged crime. Normally the information provided by the forensic psychologists helps the jury to deliberate about the issues, lawyers to develop their argument and judges to arrive at sentencing decisions.
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Requirements for Becoming a forensic psychologists
For students who are considering to pursue a career as a forensic psychology, it is important to note that this course is fairly demanding in terms of educational expectations. Simply because they are required to have a deep knowledge of psychology in addition to forensic science. There are a few selected programs leading to Bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology. Nonetheless, there are some Bachelor’s degree program that allow student to specialize in forensic psychology(Bartol, & Bartol, 2004). These programs allow students to earn their undergraduate degree program while taking courses in forensic psychology. These Bachelor’s program is a four year course which include Psychology of Personality, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Organizational Psychology.
At the end of the fours year, students would be able to enroll in graduate program in forensic psychology leading to a Master’s of Science in Forensic Psychology. These course are very important when preparing students to work effectively with criminals, victims and witnesses, while helping them to understand ins and outs of the American legal system. Key classes that students will study include Ethical Concerns in Forensic Psychology, Violence Risk Assessment, Settings and Tools of Psychological Assessment and Behavioral Intervention in Forensic Setting(Bartol, & Bartol, 2008). Also, there is an option of choosing a specialization field such as forensic psychology for mental health workers and forensic psychology in the legal system.
In order for an individual to start practicing as forensic psychologist, he/she must obtain state psychology license. Key requirements is that an individual must have attained Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or PhD. PsyD focuses more on the care of the patients, while PhD opens up more opportunities for students to pursue wider academic endeavors such as lecturing at university. In addition, PsyD requires students to engage in a lot of supervised work and clinical work, while PhD require a well-researched dissertation specifically on the field of forensic psychology which may take several years(Bartol, & Bartol, 2004). Some of the course that a student will be able to learn in the forensic psychology path include integrity, diligence, impartiality and fairness, avoiding conflict of interest, gaining and maintaining competence, knowledge of the legal system and the legal rights of individuals, knowledge of scientific foundation for opinions and testimony, knowledge of the scientific foundation for teaching and research and therapeutic-forensic role conflicts.