Psychology is known as the science of mind and behaviour. Essentially, a psychologist’s job is to study the conscious and unconscious mind to delve into feelings and thoughts, looking for how they manifest in expressions. It is a very stringent academic discipline, and people who work in psychological fields are highly-trained professionals with many years of education and practice under the belts. The roots of psychology date back to ancient civilizations like Egypt, China, Greece and India, but it really picked up popularity and relevance in the 1830s, when experimental psychology started in Leipzig. Over the years, many different types of psychology have branched out, including forensic psychology, also known as forensic psych.
A forensic psychologist still deals primarily with what a regular psychologist would, though their focus area is a lot different. This field is defined as psychology that focuses on behaviours in the criminal justice system, such as in the courtroom—suspected criminals and those who are guilty display unique psychological characteristics compared to the general population. A professional forensic psych practitioner works in this world to bridge the gap, so to speak, between criminal behaviour and criminal justice.
What Forensic Psych Is
Forensic psychology is essentially the scientific method applied inside of the justice system. A psychologist in this realm can help to ensure that the proper punishment is handed out for the crime, though can also ensure that people who do not deserve punishment find justice some other way. They will also work with police officers, judges, attorneys, mental health practitioners, the military, and even a lot of private-sector positions.
A forensic psych practitioner is brought in often as a “criminal profiler,” which means they are working with law enforcement agencies to apprehend a suspect. Following that same line, if said suspect is apprehended, the psychologist will then perform an analysis based on information gathered and relay this information to the parties in charge. This information is then used to formulate charges, to deal with sentencing guidelines, and more. The forensic psych practitioner is always working very closely inside of the justice system and has a range of different duties, depending on what the justice system requires.
Job Opportunities in the Field
When it comes to the job opportunities afforded a forensic psychologist, there are a lot more than you may realize. In the private sector alone, many thousands of corporations implement the use of forensic psych when they seek to hire people or when they need additional security measures against theft and espionage. It sounds like something straight from the movies, but these billion-dollar corps spare no expense when it comes to ensuring that their operations function properly.
School boards and other public institutions outside of the criminal justice system also often find a need for a practitioner of forensic psych. Since 2011, it is estimated that the job opportunities in this field have grown by 14%, and that these jobs pay very well. This is also attracting a whole lot of people to follow a forensic track in college to become a practicing psychologist once they graduate.
So, how does one follow this path and up a forensic psych practitioner? It usually takes three separate degrees and some field practice, which will take you about a dozen years or so. The first step here is a bachelor’s degree in some sort of criminal justice discipline or at least something that’s very closely adjacent to that discipline. This is laying the groundwork upon which you will build with a subsequent master’s degree and a doctorate. Since all psychology disciplines are scientific, you will be obtaining science degrees, which are more rigorous than arts degrees.
You will then need to enroll in a master’s course in some sort of psychology field before pursuing candidacy as a Ph.D. student in the precise forensic field. This will take an additional minimum of six years to complete fully. After receiving your doctorate, you are officially a doctor of psychology now. No one can take that away. However, you still need to find work in the field. There are no automatic jobs. Most will begin a training program en route to working with the state or Crown in some small capacity. Others may want to branch out and open their own practices or work with existing businesses. It depends on what you want from your career.
The field of forensic psych is highly involved and detailed. If you are in need of a psychologist or just more information, make sure you go with a trusted source.
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