Forensic Psychology is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. A forensic psychologist is a person who offers an expert psychological opinion in a court of law.
It is often believed that a forensic psychologist’s main focus is on criminal matters. However, this is not always the case. A forensic psychologist can assist in many different civil matters. Civil matters can be law suits. Claims in the suits that forensic psychologists handle can range from emotional suffering to the determination of competency of an aged or ill person to make decisions. They can also offer input into whether a death was an accident or a “disguised suicide,” as well as a wide variety of other matters. A psychologist working in a forensic setting could also be used to talk to children who are either in suspected child abuse cases or who are in child custody cases. A forensic psychologist is often used for helping to find a correct or just decision.
In order to become a forensic scientist, one must have a doctorate in psychology. They often receive degrees in clinical or counseling psychology, but this may not always be the case. Another option in regards to education is attending a college or university that trains people specifically to become a forensic psychologist. This allows for simultaneous training in forensic psychology and clinical psychology. If someone is already a psychologist and wants to become a forensic psychologist, they often need to complete additional informal study. This requirement can be met by attending seminars, consulting with senior colleagues, or returning to university to take additional course work.
If a forensic psychologist also needs to become certified, The American Board of Forensic Psychology is the most credible source of accreditation for forensic psychologists.