What is Forensic Psychology?

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Forensic psychology is a newer branch of psychology that is often times misconceived due to its portrayal in the media. A forensic psychologist’s role has many distinctions from other branches of psychology and is much more demanding than most may believe. The American Psychological Association depicts forensic psychology as the application of clinical specialties to the legal arena (Ward).

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The profession requires that forensic psychologists become familiar with all psychological concepts, the criminal justice system, and the laws applicable to that particular state. A simplified description of forensic psychology is the merger of law and psychology (Forensic Psychology Careers).

Before pursuing a career as a forensic psychologist, one must consider many factors about the field. There are several topics that will be covered in the document, beginning with the education requirements that individuals must meet before they can become licensed. Then, dependent upon one’s interest, there is a selection of settings that one can choose to work in. Concepts such as salary and job outlook will also be discussed as well as the misconceptions of the role of a forensic psychologist. All of these components are important to consider when deciding whether or not this is an acceptable profession.

While conducting research on this topic, an interview was conducted withDr. Louis Cerbo is a forensic psychologist working as the Clinical Director for the State of Rhode Island Department of Corrections. He is also an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University in the Psychology Department. His personal experience and expertise will be mentioned throughout this document. Dr. Cerbo, he explained that he decided to go into a career in forensic psychology because he had degrees in psychology and also had an interest in law, so he believed this would be a good career for him because it brought his two passions together.

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Education Requirements

There are many careers that individuals can pursue with a forensic psychology degree, but they can be limited depending on the level of the degree. The figure below, shows the possible careers for a forensic psychology degree at that particular level.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • Victim Advocate
  • Court Liaison
  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Probation Officer

Master’s Degree

  • Jury Consultant
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
  • Juvenile Offenders Counselor
  • Research Assistant

Doctorate Degrees

  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Expert Witness
  • Psychology Professor/Instructor
  • Psychology Researcher

Figure 1: Careers with a Forensic Psychology Degree

Data from: What Can I Do

This document will focus specifically on a career as a forensic psychologist; however, there are a multitude of careers that someone can have with a degree in forensic psychology.

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