A forensic, or criminal, psychologist is tasked with providing profiles and other information that break down why people do what they do. This is a critical aspect of understanding why people break laws or perform actions that hurt our communities. Forensic psychology is used by every branch of law enforcement for identifying behavior patterns to finding the best ways to help rehabilitate.
Besides law enforcement, forensic psychologists are used by defense attorneys to provide expert testimony for clients or by judges to determine a defendant’s competency. They are even hired to prepare witness testimony. Others are available for counseling, helping victims and their families process and come to grips with the traumatic repercussions of a crime. They may work directly with criminals, helping them realize self-destructive patterns and how to correct them. They might also be in family court, helping an estranged parent get custody of a child.
There are plenty of opportunities for these professionals in academia. The experienced psychologist could find themselves teaching at a college or university, or acting as mentors. It’s also not unusual to find them at public schools, community outreach centers or other organizations providing general education that helps communities. And while most do work directly with the general public, many are researchers and analysts, finding patterns and trends in crime that help everyone from police officers to school teachers perform better.
Primarily, the forensic psychologist is an agent of the courts. All branches of law enforcement utilize these specialists. Many professionals in the field actually come from an investigative background. That experience gives them an in-depth comprehension of how criminals think and operate. This can provide invaluable insight to, say, understanding why a serial killer is committing their crimes or even who future victims might be. The compiled information can help detectives approach an interrogation or anticipate criminal activity.
This makes the forensic psychologist a critical component of the legal system. Their work has to be careful and meticulous, as the results will have a significant impact on a case and people’s lives. Ultimately, these professionals shed a light on the criminal state of mind and often help us comprehend the whys of criminality.
There is no denying the important role of forensic psychology. But it’s not for every personality. Regardless of the field of expertise, it will require passion and patience. It will require a dedicated, detailed person that, above all else, wants to discover a truth that helps everyone. Their evaluations are critical to victims, families, law enforcement, decision makers and more.